The continues the well-done biography of Winston Churchill, his triumphs and tribulations, from about the middle of the war, 1942, to the 1945 meetings of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin at Yalta. As usual, the emphasis is less on world events than on Churchill's shaping of those events and his reaction to them. The film treats the conquest of North Africa as a totally British achievement. In any case the church bells rang out for the first time since the war had begun.
The program, like the other entries, is made up of newsreel footage and comments from those who knew him, all guided by a narrator who links the events we're watching. It's interesting to learn that Churchill wrote his own speeches, dictating them to secretaries, sometimes two secretaries at a time. It was probably a common practice at the time or, at any rate, I don't recall any references to "Churchill's speech writer" or "Roosevelt's speech writer." They served as their own copy editors. But then they were both highly literate men with curiosities that extended beyond their own political careers and their own powers. Churchill seems to have written more books than anyone except Isaac Asimov.
Some of the anecdotes not only illuminate Churchill's character but are funny as well. I'll describe one. Each morning Churchill sat in bed with his gray cat, Smokey, curled by his side. Churchill would dictate, the secretary would hurriedly type out the confidential documents and throw them on the bed, one after another, until Smokey was covered with papers. On one of these mornings, the PM was having an intense discussion with General Allenbrooke on the phone. Smokey crawled out, crouched, switched his tail, and pounced on Churchill's toes, biting them. Reflexively Churchill kicked Smokey to the floor, shouting "Get off, you damned fool." Smokey, not knowing what he'd done wrong, looked chagrined. Churchill glowered at him for a moment then said, "You poor thing, you don't always know what you're doing." Sir Allen hung up the phone on the other end, rang up one of the secretaries and begged to know what he'd done. (Cute.) The story is related by the secretary who was present.
Churchill became ill during a visit to Washington in 1944 and after his recovery appeared to have lost some of his snap. Of course, at the same time, it was becoming clear that Britain with the third partner is the Alliance. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had more resources and were putting them to use. At the meetings at Yalta, which were to decide the fate of post-war Europe, Churchill did what he could to keep communism from establishing itself in East Europe, and perhaps Western. But there was no way he could do it alone, and Roosevelt was weakened by disease and only weeks away from death, and "Uncle Joe" was a wily liar as well as a hero. Britain had declared war on Germany in 1939 to save Poland. Now Churchill watched it being given away.
It's a very nicely executed series.
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