Go see ‘Darkest Hour’ before it’s gone!


We finally got in to see “Darkest Hour” at the Nickelodeon over the weekend — the first time we went it was sold out and we were turned away — and it was everything I’d hoped it would be.

It’s only running there three more days after today, so run see it before it’s gone. (I don’t know how long it will be at the mass-market theaters where it’s showing). And get your tickets online in advance — that’s what we did, and the place was packed for the 2 p.m. Saturday showing. I didn’t see a single empty seat. And the audience was apparently riveted. I was hungry, not having had lunch, but I told myself I wasn’t going to go for popcorn and a beer until I saw someone else do it. Nobody did — except a guy who was on the end of a row, and I was in the middle.

But that’s OK, the movie was great. Gary Oldman, as usual, was fantastic, and the makeup artists even more so. He really, really looked and sounded like Winston.

For someone like me who has always been very rah-rah-for-our-side regarding that conflict, it was very enjoyable because one is encouraged to cheer. I especially like the last line, uttered by Lord Halifax after Churchill has completely routed him and Chamberlain in the House of Commons. Doug probably won’t like that line — or the film itself — as much, since he dismisses Trump’s flaws as “just words.” The director has said, “It’s a movie about words and the power of words to change the world and change the course of history.”

Anyway, run see it and let me know what you think.

63 thoughts on “Go see ‘Darkest Hour’ before it’s gone!

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    This is weird…

    Watching the movie Saturday, I kept studying the screen trying to find some trace of Gary Oldman in the person up there — and I could not. He was completely submerged in the character, to an extent unusual even for him.

    But just now, looking for a photo to go with this post, most of the still images I found looked a bit like Oldman to me. Apparently, motion and sound are necessary to complete the illusion…

    1. Richard

      How many people were on their cell phones texting during the movie? I quit going to “the theater” about 15 years ago after getting tired of the people around me talking on their cell phones.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I didn’t see anyone doing that.

        Here’s one of the nice things about the Nickelodeon: Before each movie, a member of the staff gets up and makes announcements and talks about the house rules. The guy who did it Saturday mentioned that if anybody’s doing anything they shouldn’t be during the movie, to come and get him — he assured us he would be in the lobby through the whole film. Sort of like the olden days when theaters had ushers…

  2. Bryan Caskey

    That looks really good. I’ve seen the lines at the Nick during the day as I pass by, (my office is around the corner) and I keep making plans to go see it.

    Maybe the wife and I will try to go see it for my birthday if I can wrangle a babysitter.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    On things Churchill related, I’ve got to finish his six-volume series The Second World War. I’m still on hold at the beginning of The Grand Alliance. I’m on hold because I started reading Aubrey-Maturin (almost done with that series).

    My New Year’s resolution (one of them) is to finish the Aubrey-Maturin series so I can get back to Churchill’s series, and finish that, so I can start the Marine Corps Reading List.

  4. Doug Ross

    Words without action are just words. Sorta like a blog…

    I would recommend seeing The Greatest Showman. Best movie I’ve seen in quite awhile. Saw it twice over the Christmas break. It’s a fast paced, inspirational musical with a half dozen great songs. It;s hung around in the top 3-4 movie box office due mainly to very strong word of mouth.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I saw a preview of that when I went to see the new Star Wars movie on Boxing Day. It certainly LOOKED like it would be a musical, but for whatever reason I don’t think the trailer featured anybody singing… which seemed weird…

      1. Bill

        you know;that’s the cutoff point for me-nothing great in over 20 years ,and it’s never been AS important/great as books or music…
        people won’t pay for anything else now,and see what you get;too much chaff to separate…

        1. Richard

          Have you ever gone back and watched those great movies from the 1970’s? Actors who have the acting ability of the average high school theater student, cinematography that looks like an 8mm home movie, etc… That superstar Burt Reynolds was one heck of an actor, almost as good as the cast of Billy Jack.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Yeah, there were some bad ones in the 70s, with “Billy Jack” being one of the cheesiest (although we loved it at the time because that kung fu stuff was a novelty then).

            But I think the 50s and 60s were even worse, with notable exceptions. I just can’t believe anyone actually released these films, the acting and direction were so bad.

            Even with big-budget flicks. Take “The Longest Day,” please. I watch it again every couple of years, for the history. But I’ve never seen that many big-name actors doing such a horrible job in one movie.

            For instance, look at this excruciating scene with Roddy McDowell. I can’t believe ANYBODY who was ever actually paid to direct a movie would have allowed this scene into a feature film…

            1. Mr. Smith

              On the matter of films of the 50s, 60s and 70s:
              Y’all need to get past your presentism: the notion that anything that’s more than, say, 20-30 years old is sub-par. It’s easy to go back and cherry pick this or that film or this or that scene or this or that actor and say it’s typical for the time. But I find many movies nowadays sub-par – they’re tiresomely formulaic or they put superficial action or visuals above plot or character depth. Because of that, I’ve spent a good bit of time in recent years digging up old gems from the 40s, 50s and 60s available on YouTube and elsewhere. There’re lots. Here are just a few just from the 1950s: 12 Angry Men, Rear Window, Paths of Glory, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Stalag 17, A Face in the Crowd, 3:10 to Yuma, Ace in the Hole – as well as some forgotten gems like Compulsion, Ride the High Country or … (a film about life in suburbia that I can’t remember the title of), along with some cool film noir classics like Odds Against Tomorrow or The Hitch-Hiker. And that just scratches the surface of the roughly 20,000 movies made in the 1950s listed on imdb.

              1. bud

                Hitchcock came into his own during the 50s with Rear Window, North by Northwest and Vertigo (arguably the best movie ever made)

              2. Brad Warthen Post author


                Yikes! You know how to hurt a guy, Mr. Smith. I don’t like to think of myself as the whiggish sort.

                Of course, of COURSE wonderful exceptions can be found in every decade. I would certainly include 12 Angry Men, Rear Window, Stalag 17, and A Face in the Crowd among my favorites in the 1950s.

                In the 60s there’s The Graduate, Cool Hand Luke, Dr. Strangelove, 2001… and a sentimental favorite, since I loved it when I was a kid, The Great Escape.

                And today… I think the worst thing about movies today is unrealistic action. Most superhero movies fall prey to this — including ones with clever scripts otherwise. If there’s violence or car chases, I want them to be things that could really happen. Whether it’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or The Avengers, I don’t like seeing people doing things people can’t do.

                Even if your character has superpowers, I want the action to be realistic and human-scale. For instance, I was very put off by the high-tech BS in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Spider-Man is supposed to be the most human of superheroes. It ruins the character for him to have a talking suit designed by Tony Stark. For that matter, he shouldn’t even KNOW any rich guys other than Norman Osborne. He’s a down-to-Earth, working-class loner who has his spider powers and some inventions of his own, such as his web-shooters. That’s it….

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  But… while the razzle-dazzle element in modern movies, particularly action movies, is ridiculous, I do believe there’s an esthetic in which acting and direction is better across the board.

                  That’s not to denigrate the BEST movies of the 40s, 50s or 60s, but I really think the acting (oh, and the production values as well) in the AVERAGE movie today is better than in the average film of those earlier times…

                  People and scenery are more naturalistic than ever, except in the sillier action movies. You feel more like you’re really in someone’s living room or out on the street or in a car or whatever, and not on a sound stage. A lot of this has to do with technology, but I think the lesser-celebrated arts of make-up, lighting and the like have just gradually gotten better…

            1. Claus2

              Yep, “the most under rated movie of all time”… a Burt Reynolds movie. I miss the story line of White Lightning and it’s sequel Gator. Both passed over for Oscars in every category.

              Skip to 2:20.

            2. Mark Stewart

              I still think that’s a good thing!

              I read somewhere that “Appalachia” begins somewhere just past Anderson… seems about right to me.

          2. Bill

            Lancaster gave a brilliant performance in,The Swimmer.Movies peaked in the 80’s;ruined by technology…

  5. bud

    I saw the trailer for this and got it confused with Dunkirk. I kept waiting for Churchill to make an appearance but no.

    I’ll probably go see this eventually but I’m really not all that stoked for yet another World War II film that generally paints a black and white picture of complex events. We all know by now that Hitler was a monster. But Churchill was more complex. He was an inspiration hero in 1940 war but he was more complicated than his “never surrender” speech. For instance he had a brutal, racist side to him in the 1920s. That served as the beginning of our problems in Iraq. I can enjoy a good historical war movie as much as anyone but lets not use the events of World War II to justify jingoistic behavior today.

  6. Scout

    If he gets an Oscar nomination, it’ll probably be around or come back to theaters for awhile. I hope to see it while it is around.

  7. Bryan Caskey

    I’ll be seeing it on 1/11. Can’t wait!

    A good Churchill quote until then: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

    1. bud

      How about this one from May 1919:

      “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.”

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Here’s Churchill’s entire quote (emphasis mine):

        “It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”

        Oh, and “lachrymatory” means tear gas. It makes sense when you read the entire minute he issued from the War Department on May 12, 1919.

        1. bud

          Come on Bryan. He’s suggesting the use of poison gas on “uncivilized tribes”. That’s a pretty racist comment. Hey I get it you and Brad have a man crush on Churchill but he’s more complicated that you are willing to admit. He was quite hawkish in his day and ultimately the people of Britain felt compelled to go in another direction after WW II.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            No, they wanted to institute the Welfare State, once the war was won. So they went with Labour. Remember, PMs don’t run for election, except within their parties. The voters rejected the Tories, not Churchill.

            Personally, I took that line about “uncivilized tribes” as referring to the Huns. You know, the Master Race. But maybe I misread it. He was definitely one for Empire — something we should read within the context of the times that produced him, rather than the prevailing ideologies of the 21st century…

            1. Mark Stewart

              The full quote makes sense in terms of a post-war use of protest-detering tear gases and such to control the edges of the British Empire (esp. since by 1919 she didn’t have many extra young men to send out to “protect” the Empire).

              Bud, it would be hard to find an Englishman of the Victorian age who spoke against the ideas of Empire and of British superiority. However, I’m not sure this is Racist in the way we use the word here. They didn’t have a Jim Crow kind of relationship with the Empire; they were just arrogant snobs.

          2. Claus2

            An old military strategy was not to eliminate the fighting soldiers, but to eliminate the source for the next generation of soldiers. You make little headway killing only the male rats you encounter if the females keep breeding replacements.

                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    Oh….it’s google (decimal degree) coordinates! I figured y’all were just fooling around, so I thought I would get in on the joke. I just made up some random numbers.

        2. bud

          And we have this:

          As a long-term advocate of chemical warfare, he was determined to use them against the Russian Bolsheviks. In the summer of 1919, 94 years before the devastating strike in Syria, Churchill planned and executed a sustained chemical attack on northern Russia.


          So it is not entirely accurate to say Churchill only wanted to use some type of benign tear gas. He probably suggested that only because he knew the more lethal M device would never be approved.

  8. bud

    Churchill’s most famous speech was probably plagiarized. Churchill:

    “We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”

    Frenchman Georges Clemenceau in 1918:

    “I shall fight before Paris, I shall fight behind Paris. The Germans may
    take Paris but that will not stop me from carrying on the war. We shall
    fight on the Loire, we shall fight on the Garonne, we shall fight even
    in the Pyrenees. And should we be driven off the Pyrenees, we shall
    continue the war from the sea. But as for asking for peace, never!”

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Reminds me of something I used to moan about in the late ’80s and early 90s — that Prince Charles had MY job, a job to which I was perfectly suited, and he was buggering it up.

            I mean seriously, how hard is it for a rich man to produce some heirs (I had five by that point, to his measly two), make a few ceremonial appearances, shoot some grouse and keep your nose clean? But he couldn’t manage it, the twit…

            1. Bryan Caskey

              You may need to bone up on the grouse shooting. But hey, if you’re the Prince of Wales, you got all sorts of free time for that. I’m sure that you wouldn’t have any trouble lining up some highly competent instructors to assist with the Royal marksmanship.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Exactly. And think about it: If the prince is bad at shooting grouse, does he get fired? No, he does not. Just show up in tweed, take a few shots, then it’s time for a couple of drinks before dinner.

                It’s an awesome job. And it really irritates me how some people fail at it. My wife and I are watching the second season of “The Crown,” and it bugs me to see the actor playing Charles’ father constantly complaining — perhaps I should say “grousing” — about his lot in life. He had it made!

                He does get an occasional good line, though: I really cracked up when he expressed his displeasure at the queen’s new hairstyle by saying, “I thought you were hoping for more children from me…”

                1. Claus2

                  “It’s an awesome job.”

                  A job that needs to be outsourced or better yet, eliminated. The Kardashians also have “jobs”.

            2. Claus2

              I real an article the other day about a woman who was getting evicted from yet another property who had just had her 17th kid. Her complaint is “someone needs to take care of these kids”. She’d laugh at your five.

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