The Second World War was a time of great conflict and chaos, but it was also a time of innovation and creativity in the fight against Nazi Germany. An example of this innovation is depicted in the upcoming film, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. It charts the true story of how Winston Churchill and James Bond writer Ian Fleming set up a clandestine combat organization that used unconventional and “ungentlemanly” techniques to fight the Nazis.
The film is based on Giles Milton’s non-fiction book of the same name, and is being directed by Guy Ritchie, best known for his “Sherlock Holmes” movies and British gangster flicks like “Snatch,” produced by Top Gun: Maverick producer Jerry Bruckheimer alongside Chad Oman, Ritchie’s producing partner Ivan Atkinson, and John Friedberg for Black Bear International. The project, which was originally set up at Paramount, is being pitched as the first in a possible series.
The story of the “ungentlemanly” combat organization is a fascinating one and it is not surprising that it is being adapted into a feature film. During the Second World War, the British were facing an existential threat from Nazi Germany and they needed to find new and innovative ways to fight back. Winston Churchill recognized the need for a new kind of warfare, and he tasked Ian Fleming, who would later go on to write the James Bond series, with setting up a clandestine organization that could operate outside the traditional rules of engagement.
Fleming, along with a team of military experts and operatives, set up the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, which was responsible for carrying out a range of operations, from sabotage and assassination to deception and psychological warfare. The operatives were chosen for their specific skills, and they were trained to use unconventional weapons and techniques, from exploding rats to disguise kits.
Some of the Ministry’s unconventional methods were criticized for their perceived brutality, even within the British military establishment. Yet they were highly successful in carrying out various operations that helped to undermine the Nazi war effort and pave the way for the Allied victory.
This highly anticipated film promises to shed light on one of the most fascinating and innovative operations of the Second World War.
The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare began principal photography in Turkey earlier this week, with Lionsgate eyeing a wide theatrical release for the movie next year.
We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint box. And, for this, Audacity is the only ticket. —Winston Churchill
If you’re in the southern California area you will not want to miss this traveling show of oil paintings by Winston Churchill. Included in the collection are landscapes that Churchill painted at his favorite holiday destinations in France and Morocco, a coastal scene and a still life. These rare paintings are now on view through May 30.
Heather James Fine Art 45188 Portola Avenue Palm Desert, CA 92260 760-346-8926
A master of narrative fiction, Erik Larson is presently working on a new book about Winston Churchill’s first year as prime minister, when Britain faced its gravest threat. The author is using newly available sources, including recently declassified files and personal diaries. Larson calls it “a kind of Downton on Downing.” To learn more about the tentatively titled The Splendid and the Vile, click on the link below to go to the publisher’s website.
It is often these behind-the-scenes accounts of those who work in the shadows, so to speak, that reveal the humanity of historic figures that is hard to find anywhere else. This account by Carole Sovocool, the grand-daughter of the head electrician at Buckingham Palace, is one of those accounts. Click on the link below to read her article.
In 2016 The Crown scored a huge hit for Netflix, with American actor John Lithgow playing Churchill at the end of his active political career. This year Brian Cox and Gary Oldman will both be seen in theatrical releases depicting the wartime prime minister.
Winston and Clementine wrote fondly to one another whenever they were apart. From time to time, they also wrote loving notes to each other while living in the same house. Here are a few highlights from their exchanges while courting, while Winston was in the trenches during World War I and during Winston’s ‘Wilderness Years,’ when he held no government position.
After courting for only four months, Winston proposed marriage on the picturesque grounds of Blenheim Palace. Clementine accepted and the next morning, before she departed, Winston had his footman deliver a handwritten note to Clementine’s room. The note suggested a romantic walk in the rose garden after breakfast.
Clementine did accept Winston’s offer to stroll among the roses after breakfast and she most likely ‘picked a bunch’ to bring home as a reminder of Winston’s love for her. She also returned home with the engagement letter for her mother. They were married one month later on September 12, 1908 in London at Saint Margaret’s Church.
In the Trenches, World War I
Even with a war raging on, Winston Churchill found time to corresponded with his wife. While in the trenches, he had some practical requests, like his hot-water bottle and his trench periscope, which he described as ‘most important.’ But it was obvious from his correspondence that Clementine was the most important person in his life:
The following correspondence was sent from the war front marked: “To be sent to Mrs. Churchill in the event of my death.”
During His Wilderness Years
Mary Somes, Winston and Clementine Churchill’s youngest daughter, compiled their letters in a 700+ page book titled Winston and Clementine: The Personal Letters of the Churchills. This compilation offers a rare look at the ups and downs of their relationship and takes the reader on a journey through political and social events that covered most of the first half of the twentieth century. To say the least, it is a fascinating read.
There has been a bit of a controversy with the casting of John Lithgow, an American, in the role of Winston Churchill in the upcoming Netflix series, The Crown. But no matter what your feelings are in that regard, one must admit John Lithgow plays an outstanding Churchill. (See above video.)
Peter Morgan, the writer, cited “Churchill fatigue” within the British acting community for the decision to go with Lithgow. “There’s a point where every Knight of the Realm does his Winston Churchill,” Morgan said. Morgan credited casting director Nina Gold with the suggestion of Lithgow, who he described as “so startling and imaginative that it was an unanimous yes.”
Netflix will release the entire first series of The Crown this Friday, November 4.