Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The Iron Duke is one of the best of the George Arliss biopics -- and one of the few that can claim near-total accuracy (with the usual glossovers and embellishments, of course). Arliss plays the Duke of Wellington, the brilliant and foresighted British diplomat -- warrior of the Napoleonic Era. The film covers the years 1815 and 1816, reaching a climax as Wellington faces down Napoleon's armies at Waterloo (an exciting sequence, despite obvious production economies). On the home front, Wellington must contend with political enemies, prevaricators and turncoats -- and also with those who demand impossible sanctions against the French, thereby setting the stage for future wars (the parallels between Wellington's era and the post-WW I years are impossible to miss). Of the supporting players Gladys Cooper is sheer vitriol as the Duchess of Angouleme, daughter of Marie Antoinette, while Emlyn Williams is equally effective as an anti-Wellington journalist.
against-all-odds, aristocracy, leader, military, swashbuckler