When I was in the 9th grade, Mrs. Friddle, my speech and drama teacher, gave me a small role in the play “Our Town”. It was a frightening experience. Then she asked me to memorize and perform a comedy routine for a speech contest. The Stockton Junior High School stage was a daunting place. You can see it in the Bing Crosby film High Time during the finale graduation scene. I still remember having to perform this speech on that stage as the most frightening event in my life.
King George VI apparently had the same public speaking fear as well as a debilitating stammer/stutter and his audiences weren’t just supportive parents and friends. When King Edward VIII (his older brother) abdicated his crown for the love of a divorced American woman, KGVI was forced to accept the crown and make public speeches.
The Kings Speech is a story of KGVI from 1924 to the beginning of World War II. Told with a lot of wit, it is the story of his attempts to overcome his speech impediments. KGVI is aptly portrayed on screen by Colin Firth. His speech therapist, Lionel Logue, is the best role that Geoffrey Rush could hope for on his way to an Oscar. Wait and see.
The actors and skill of the filmmakers make this little known piece of history to most Americans come to life and is a joy to watch. It manages to be highly entertaining and educational at the same time.
The supporting cast of British actors are well known and superb. Claire Bloom, now 80, makes a rare screen appearance as Queen Mary, the mum of KGVI and Grandmum of the current Queen Elizabeth II. Many of the scenes during the penultimate moment, when KGVI makes his big speech, are so beautifully set up they look like oil paintings by a Master. The crux of the film is the relationship which develops between Lionel and the King (affectionately called Bertie by the Royal Family…..and by Lionel) . Their story is akin to the one which develops between Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan in the 1962 version of The Miracle Worker.
I came in 2nd in the speech contest and overcame my fear of public speaking. Thank you Mrs. Friddle. The person who finished 1st ahead of me is now in line to become the King of England. We affectionately called him Charlie. Had I beaten him that’s where I would be today. Oh what might have been.
Rated 4.0 out of 4.0 Jolly Good Shows