Friday, July 13, 2012


In 1875 London, a boy named Wheeler is a mudlark, someone who spends his days picking through trash along the Thames. One night he comes across a cameo of Queen Victoria and imagines it's the image of his late mother, whom he never knew. When he finds out it's the Queen and she's been in seclusion at Windsor Castle for fifteen years since the death of her husband, he heads out to meet her. At the Castle, Prime Minister Disraeli is trying to convince the Queen to make a public appearance as she might be able to calm the unrest of the people who think the Queen is out of touch and doesn't care about them. Also at the Castle, Lady Emily, a maid of honor, is in love with a guard but the Queen forbids them to marry. All three plotlines come together when Wheeler sneaks into the Castle, makes friends with John Brown, Scottish confidant of the Queen, and generally throws the entire household into an uproar. This low-key comedy-drama is based on a legend about a boy who snuck in to see the Queen. Irene Dunne is completely unrecognizable as Queen Victoria, though she's buried under so much makeup, she gives a rather lifeless, stilted performance. Much better is Alec Guinness as the sly Disraeli, and Finlay Currie as a full-blooded Brown.  11-year-old Anthony Ray (pictured) is fine as the boy. Best line: When the earthy Brown says that the Queen is stubborn as an old mule, Disraeli replies, "What power of expression there is in a limited vocabulary." [FMC]

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