Visitors to Chartwell and Chequers during Winston Churchill’s time were often treated to film screenings hosted by one of the premier cinephiles of his era. Whether in or out of power, Churchill turned to movies for entertainment, relaxation, and inspiration. “He loved the films, any film,” recalled one of his private secretaries. “After it, then tears down his face, and wiping them away, “The best film I’ve ever seen.”1
Churchill knew something about the film industry. Not long after the end of his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer following the defeat of the Conservative government in 1929, Churchill found himself in Hollywood, where he visited Charlie Chaplin and was filmed with the diminutive actor at his studio. Churchill also pursued the very modern practice of writing screenplays for movies that were never made, a lucrative sideline that helped keep at bay the ever-present creditors that so haunted his middle years. Perhaps his most intriguing cinematic near miss was an epic film about Napoleon, which was to feature Chaplin in the lead role.