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The Finest DVD Presentation to Date of The Finest Hours
on 2 March 2017
I first saw this documentary on American television in the 1970s, and it left me spellbound. It is, understandably, more than a bit hagiographical, and obviously skips over Churchill's flaws and errors of (and lapses in) judgment -- but as a celebration of a life that, quite obviously, contributed more to the good of the British people and the world than almost any other of his era, it's a glorious account. The documentary itself was always very controversial in England, as it was derived from a much longer work by the same producer, Jack Le Vien, which had been done in conjunction with the BBC but violated many of that organization's protocols concerning re-created interviews and re-enacted events; but on the American side of the Atlantic it was accepted at face-value, and this just-under-two-hour version is still fascinating to watch, especially the latter-day (circa 1951) speech to his constituents where the man, clearly faltering physically, still possessed a great deal of the fire from his glory days. This edition of the movie is far superior to the American edition (which is poorly transferred and utilizes a badly edited film source), in image and sound -- it's not flawless, and one would love to know if there are better film sources buried in a vault somewhere, but it is handled with reasonable care, and is generously chapter-encoded. And I could listen to that Ron Grainer music for an entire day!