Churchill and the Movie Mogul review – how a tight-trousered Nelson smashed the Nazis

Hitler had Leni Riefenstahl. Churchill had Alexander Korda. And the refugee director didn’t just craft masterful propaganda out of British history – he also sheltered undercover agents

“Believe me, gentlemen,” cried Horatio Nelson, one-armed yet tight of trouser as he strutted before the stuffed shirts at the Admiralty, “he wants to be the master of the world.” Nelson was talking about Napoleon, and counselling that there could be no deal with the pint-sized menace. “You cannot make peace with dictators. You have to destroy them.” This scene from Lady Hamilton, with Laurence Olivier as Nelson and Vivien Leigh as his eponymous mistress, was allegorical, since the film was made in 1941 to serve as propaganda as another pint-sized menace stalked Europe. The intriguing suggestion in Churchill and the Movie Mogul (BBC Four) was that this scene was written by the former as Britain once more stood alone against a megalomaniac foe.
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