After a series of pandemic-related delays, British film fans can finally look forward to the release of the critically acclaimed comedy-drama The Duke.
Directed by the late great Roger Michell and starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren, the moving film received rave reviews from critics and was praised by many leading movie sites.
The action takes place in England in the 1960s. The Duke tells the true story of local Kempton Bunton, 60-year-old working-class Geordie, who believes strongly in the support of the common man.
After spending 13 days in a Durham jail for refusing to pay for a TV license, claiming the license is an unfair tax on the common people, he decides to travel to London to campaign for change.
Instead, he receives the world-famous and extremely valuable Francisco de Goya portrait of the Duke of Wellington, which was stolen from the National Gallery in London.
He then decides to send a ransom note insisting that he return the painting if the government invests more in elderly care.
The Duke tells an uplifting true story about what happened next when a humble pensioner with a big heart sets out to change the world.
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Who plays in the series “Duke”?
Legendary British actors Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren star as working-class husband and wife Dorothy Bunton and Kempton in The Duke.
Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk) takes on the role of their shipbuilder son, Jackie Bunton, while Jack Bandeira (Powder Milkshake) plays Kenny Bunton’s older brother.
Matthew Goode (“The Imitation Game”) and Anna Maxwell Martin (“On Duty”) round out the cast.
When will The Duke be released in theaters?
The cinematic release of The Duke has been delayed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The film was originally scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom by 20th Century Fox through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on November 6, 2020, but Pathé ultimately pushed the film back to 2021 during the first wave of the coronavirus.
On June 7, 2021, it was announced that Pathé would release the film on September 3, 2021, after confirming a new distribution deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, however, it was again delayed.
The Duke will release this week with a confirmed date of February 25th and a running time of 96 minutes.
Spoiler alert for incoming…
What happened to Kempton Bunton? How true is “Duke”?
The retired bus driver, who was 61 at the time of the theft, lived in his native Newcastle in a council flat. Although only three children are shown in the film, he actually had five children, including three sons.
As shown in the film, Bunton was arrested for stealing a painting of the Duke of Wellington by Francisco de Goya.
Four years after stealing the painting, Bunton eventually turned himself in to police, confessing to stealing a portrait of the Duke of Wellington de Goya from the National Gallery on August 21, 1961. So far, the film shows that he returned the painting directly to the National Gallery. before confessing, in real life, Bunton actually contacted the newspaper and returned the painting through a locker at Birmingham New Street station, only to turn himself in to police six weeks later.
He was put on trial for robbery, but the jury ultimately found him not guilty of stealing the painting, convicting him only of stealing the frame, resulting in a total of three months in prison.
Bunton died in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1976. His death was largely unreported and there were no obituaries in major newspapers. The Duke demonstrates that Bunton writes many play scripts, all of which are sent out through different channels. Unfortunately for Bunton, none of his scripts were ever used.
Two decades after his death, the National Gallery released documents indicating that another person may have committed the actual theft, and then gave the painting to Bunton.
This was confirmed in 2012 by a Freedom of Information Request.
The National Archives released a confidential file in which Bunton’s son John (known as Jackie in “The Duke”) confessed to the theft after his arrest in 1969 for a minor, unrelated offense.
It revealed that John Bunton said that his father intended the painting to be used as part of his campaign for free television licenses for the elderly, and that it would eventually be returned to the National Gallery.
John said that both he and his brother Kenneth were told by their father Kempton not to perform despite the trial.
However, despite John Bunton’s admission of guilt, his son was never prosecuted after Director of Public Prosecution Sir Normal Skelhorn advised that it would be difficult to prosecute Bunton Sr. for perjury as the prosecution would have to rely on his son’s testimony. who was an unreliable witness.