The Winslow Boy

Collector's Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.33:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - David Mamet (Director & Screenwriter), Rebecca Pidgeon, Sir Nigel Hawthorne, Jeremy Northam 
Running Time 100:11 minutes Other Extras Featurette - Behind The Scenes
Biographies - Cast & Crew
RSDL/Flipper No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director David Mamet 
 Sony Pictures Classics
Columbia TriStar
Starring Sir Nigel Hawthorne
Jeremy Northam
Rebecca Pidgeon
Gemma Jones
RRP $39.95 Music Alaric Jans 

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
German Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The Winslow Boy claims to be based on a true story, and I am not one to argue. The time is 1912, and the place is England. The Winslow family, one of great standing and headed by the stately Arthur Winslow (Sir Nigel Hawthorne) is thrown into turmoil when their youngest member is charged with theft and expelled from the Naval Cadetship. This is a terrible blow, and Arthur Winslow does all he can to prove the innocence of his son, taking on the very Crown itself in a court matter which enthralled the public at that time.

    Adapted from a play, this is a slow-paced film with little to reward an impatient audience. However, should your fancies tend towards a good story with genuine character development, not to mention superb acting from everyone involved, then you almost certainly will enjoy this movie.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer of this film is not up to the usual standards expected from Columbia TriStar, and is below par in many respects, leaving me quite disappointed. Clearly, Sony Pictures Classics do not apply the same quality care as enjoyed by Columbia and TriStar productions.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    First off, there is a distinct lack of detail and sharpness in the image, not at all in keeping with expectations. Closely related to this is the high level of edge enhancement, which smears detail. The result of this is a fairly poor image with little definition, and at times it was dreadful. The contrast and brightness of the image is also off-the-mark, being too bright. At times, the white level saturates the image, with information lost during these times. Shadow detail is very good, but only because of the artificially high white level and low contrast.

    The colour balance never seemed to be quite right, usually being undersaturated. This was especially apparent in flesh tones, although this is almost certainly the result of the incorrect white level, and was something I never really was comfortable with.

    There were no MPEG artefacts to speak of, though the transfer did have a very slight motion smear at times. I was quite apprehensive at the very start of the movie due to the high amount of specks and dirt, but these all but vanished for the remainder of the movie. There were no film-to-video artefacts save for the slight motion blur, with no trace of aliasing.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is one film soundtrack on this disc along with the commentary track. Both are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kilobits per second.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand, something no doubt helped by the perfectly correct enunciation of the English language from the actors. It was a joy to listen to words being fully and roundly spoken, not to mention the courteous manner which accompanies such refinement. We are simply a lazy lot these days, and I dread to think what state our language will be in down the track; poor, methinks.

    The quaint musical score is subtle and never prominent. This is an entirely dialogue-driven move, and in fact the score is rarely noticed.

    The sound mix is very centre-heavy, again since this is a dialogue piece. There is the odd use of the surrounds, but by and large it could be considered a mono movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Scene Selections (28)

Theatrical Trailer (1:59)

    This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, and is quite a good trailer. It is interesting to hear the difference in pitch in the actors' voices as compared with the movie proper, as trailers generally preserve the correct frame rate at the expense of quality, and this artefact usually goes unnoticed.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes (6:42)

    This is another totally useless inclusion, and is simply the theatrical trailer with a few quick glimpses of production and the odd small word from an actor. I know I am not alone in feeling fed up with this kind of unwanted padding. This along with the commentary does not a special edition make.

Audio Commentary - Director & Cast

    This is a fairly lively commentary from the director and screenwriter David Mamet, who is joined by the key members of the cast, being Sir Nigel Hawthorne, Rebecca Pidgeon and Jeremy Northam. They all had a good time with this film, but the cast do have a hard time getting a word in edgeways, with David Mamet continuously trying to prove how clever he is with this shot, that editing cut, this effect, that camera angle, and so forth. Many, many times whomever of the cast is speaking will simply continue to speak over Mamet in order that they can be heard, which is somewhat tiring. However, overall this is a nice commentary and is worth a listen.

R4 vs R1

    Both editions are identically featured, with little to compel me to choose either version over the other, apart of course from my hatred of NTSC. Stick with R4.


    The Winslow Boy is an old-fashioned tale, and one told with good pace and featuring superb acting. Nigel Hawthorne is as good as ever, and I look forward to him featuring in many movies to come.

    The video transfer is plain, and well below par.

    The soundtrack is also quite plain, being purely functional.

    Heralded quite wrongly as a Special Edition, this disc has a trailer and a commentary. This disc would be better off as a bargain bin special, and the asking price of $40 is ludicrous.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley ( read my bio)
27th May, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A360 (S-Video output)
Display Rear-Projection Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder d t s 5.1 & Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player internal decoder)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive