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The Prime Minister

(1941 b 94')

En: 5 Ed: 6

This biographical drama of Disraeli emphasizes the contributions of his influential wife.

In 1837 London novelist Benjamin Disraeli (John Gielgud) crashes his bicycle and is given a ride to a garden party by Mary Ann Wyndham-Lewis (Diana Wynyard). She read his novels and says he should be in Parliament. Disraeli meets Robert Peel (Nicholas Hannen) and Gladstone (Stephen Murray), who also urges him to go into politics. Gladstone tells Victoria she is now Queen. Disraeli asks Mary Ann to help him. She goes to the Conservative party leaders and gets their support for Disraeli. In the House of Commons Disraeli speaks and is mocked; but Mary Ann and Gladstone encourage him not to give up. A people's charter for worker benefits leads to riots. Mary Ann learns that Disraeli is with Lady Blessington and goes to the ball. Disraeli finds that Mary Ann can't waltz and asks her to marry. They wed. In the House Disraeli tells Lord Melbourne (Frederick Leister) to retire. After the election Disraeli does not get a position but tells Mary Ann he plans to stay in the party.

Gladstone joins the Liberals and in 1868 becomes prime minister. In 1874 Disraeli challenges Gladstone. A doctor tells Mary Ann she has a year or less. In the Commons Disraeli says industrialists control Gladstone. Disraeli opposes repealing the income tax and defeats Gladstone in a vote of confidence. Workers elect Disraeli's Conservative party. Disraeli learns that Lord Derby (Owen Nares) declined the foreign ministry. Mary Ann goes to Derby and says Disraeli will resign unless Derby joins his cabinet. Queen Victoria (Fay Compton) wants to make Disraeli an earl, but he asks her to honor Mary Ann, who fears Disraeli will miss her. Derby opposes buying Cypress for a naval base because of peace; but Disraeli suspects Bismarck and the Czar. Disraeli is called home to Mary Ann, who dies.

Mourning Disraeli tells Victoria he is resigning; but she persuades him to stay because of Russia and Germany. Disraeli tells his cabinet they must mobilize, but they disagree. Disraeli tells Victoria they can secretly mobilize the army in India to help Turkey. The war is opposed in the House; but Disraeli announces that Russia is invading Turkey. Disraeli calls a conference in Berlin and demands that Russia withdraw. Bismarck says that Disraeli is bluffing and invites him to dinner. Bismarck finally gives in to British honor. Victoria gives Disraeli a title, and people sing "God Save the Queen."

This drama fails to even mention that Disraeli was Jewish, but during the war it emphasizes his effort to bulwark the military of Britain's empire. Focusing on his wife adds romance to his success story.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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