No list of English films featuring boys and their clothing is complete without this classic. A boy at the English naval school at Osborne is accused of stealing and summarily
expelled with no real investigation of the matter. A respected lawyer agrees to take his case. Wonderfully acted and well costumed. The film underscores how the
law exists to protect even a young boy in a matter of seemingly minor imprtance. The case of Rex vs. Winslow becomes a cause celebre. It ends with the ringing "Let justice be done." This is on my list of important films, primarily because of the subject. I believe that one of the major reasons for the success of America and England is the system of law, imperfect as it is, protecting
individuals and their property. This film is a good illustration of the legal process. A remake was done in 2000.
The film is based on the celebrated play by British dramatist Terence which was first staged in 1946. The director was Anthony Asquith.
Ronnie Winslow the 12-13 year old cadet is played by Neil North.
A boy, Ronnie Winslow, at the English naval school at Osborne is accused of stealing a five shilling postal note and summarily expelled with no real investigation of the matter. Ronnie returns home is disgrace. He contginues to claim that he is innocent. His father speaks to him and asks him if he is telling the truth. "You cannot lie to me," the elder Winslow warns, "for I am your father and I shall know it." "No, Father, I didn't," Ronnie replies. His family is convinced of his innocence. The film is driven by Arthur Winslow, George's father, and his relentless search for justice. He persuades the country's leading lawyer, Sir Robert Morton to take on Ronnie's defense. Sir Robert grills the boy relentlessly and concludes that
he is telling the truth. The options were limited. It was unheard of at the time for a 13-year old boy to challenge the recered Royal Navy. The case challenges long accepted legal notions and the nations most respected institution--The Royal Navy. It causes a furor in the press and Ronnie's case becomes a cause celebre. The story is based on an actual incident at Osborne and the subsequent legal struggle in the English courts.
Osborne is of course the estate built on the Isle of Wright by Prince Albert for his growing family in the 1840s. After his death, Queen Victoria turned into a virtual mausoleum for her beloved husband. On her death, King Edward VII who did not like it, bequeathed it to the nation. It was turned into a national memorial, but part of the estate was turned into a naval training school. Formerly rotting training sdhips had been used. Early cadets included the sons of George V, including the future Edward VIII and George VI--both swho experienced a difficult time there. The princes' dormitory was the converted stables of theor greatgrand parents.
A little historical background is needed here to fully understand this film and the court case. While not directly related to fashion, it touches on several topics HBC does address, the English monarchy, cadets, Osborne, and Edwardwian era so we have decided to provide the historical details. There are a few cases in Anglo-American jurisprudence that should be known by all, Rex vs. Winslow is certainly one of them.
The play is set in 1910 which was about the time Prince Edward (future Edward VIII) and Prince Albert (future George VI) were cadets at Osborne.
The Winslow Boy is set in Edwardian England and features characters, as Rattigan intended who are models of self-restraint, their dialogue beautifully showcases the discourse of educated Anglo civilization of the day.
Ronnie only appears briefly in his double-breasted cadet uniform. On a few occasions wears the wide Eton collar that English boys used to wear--always with long pants.
Wonderfully acted and accurately costumed.
The film underscores how the
law exists to protect even a young boy in a matter of seemingly minor imprtance. It ends with the ringing "Let justice be done." This is on my list of important films,
primarily because of the subject. I believe that one of the major reasons for the success of America and England is the system of law, imperfect as it is, protecting
individuals and their property. This film is a good illystration of the legal process.
The excellent BBC TV production was a realitively low-budget affair, but very well acted. Ronnie's costuming was also more accurate than the big-budget 1999 film. We believe, however, that in 1910 that a boy's Eton collar would probably not have been tucked away under his waistcoat/vest.
A glitzier color version of the play was made in 1999. Written and directed by David ammmet, it is also a good propduction--but adds little to the 1948 film. It does introduce the story to younger movie goers, many of whom would not view an older black and white film.
A British reader writes, "I have been reading the film report about the Wilslow
Boy. About the clothing worn at the trial, I have a News of the World paper which reports this court case. Included in the story are sctetches made in the court room. I do not know if illustrations showing the boy's clothes are shopwn but I will have a look for you. A point you never mentioned was that the boy had attended Stoneyhurst Jesuit Collage in Lancashire. I believe that to this day not boy from this school will be accepted to Osburne as a Navel Cadet.
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main English movie page]
[Return to the Main military school movie page]
[Return to the Main Wa-Wl alphabetic movie page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Theatricals]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossary] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]