Film review: The Duke (2022)

I recently watched this nice little comedy set in 1961 that stars Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren in which Broadbent plays a working class character who keeps losing his job and getting into trouble because of his efforts to fight for those whom he sees as being unfairly treated, such as old pensioners and disabled veterans of wars, trying to get the government to waive for them the licensing fees that the owners of every television must pay the government and which goes towards funding the BBC.

This film is based on the life of a real person Kempton Bunton and the theft of a painting of the Duke of Wellington that was stolen from the National Gallery, and the trial of Bunton for stealing it. (The link has spoilers for the film.) It is a film that gets its laughs from the behavior of the characters, not from jokes, and Broadbent and Mirren, two excellent actors, have the skills to make the most of their roles.

Here’s the trailer.

One thing I was curious about was how Bunton was able to get a high-powered barrister to represent him at his trial since he clearly would not have been able to afford one. Since this theft really happened, I looked Bunton up and found a link to the lawyer Jeremy Hutchinson who had a privileged background with an elite education that led to an illustrious career and was married at the time to the already-famous actress Peggy Ashcroft.

I do not know the British legal aid system and how this came to be. Maybe because Bunton’s case gained a great deal of notoriety at the time and he became something of a folk hero, a Robin Hood type fighting the establishment, Hutchinson provided his services pro bono.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    Thanks for highlighting this, Mano. Both Broadbent and Mirren are planetary treasures, but I had not heard of The Duke.

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