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Impressions of Disraeli

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Impressions of Disraeli

Celebrity endorsement: Stanley Baldwin introduces George Arliss playing the legendary PM

1931 16 mins

Overview

Now here’s a curio-and-a-half… A party-political film introduced by Tory leader Stanley Baldwin, in turn introducing George Arliss in a bespoke take on his famous role. Arliss played the legendary Victorian PM on stage and twice on screen, winning an Oscar for his 1929 performance. This curious celebrity endorsement is also a study in the changing art of rhetoric between Disraeli’s and Baldwin’s eras and our own. Disraeli is the only UK Prime Minister to have been Jewish by birth, though he later joined the Church of England.

The Conservatives were streets ahead of all other UK political parties in embracing the film medium, through their Conservative and Unionist Films Association. It’s worth noting that the Conservative Party at the time favoured protectionist economic policies, hence the inclusion of Disraeli speeches against unfettered free trade.