Here's a great idea: British director Guy Ritchie, master of tough guy action in movies like "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "The Gentlemen," has been hired to direct a film about Britain's World War II-era Special Operations Executive. It will be based on Damien Lewis' book, "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: How Churchill's Secret Warriors Set Europe Ablaze and Gave Birth to Modern Black Ops."
Most of us think of Winston Churchill as the ideal of a wartime leader, a visionary man who motivated his country's citizens to band together as they withstood a brutal German assault during World War II.
All of that is true, but he was also a politician who irritated even the members of his own party and embraced ideas that were vehemently opposed by his country's elites. The top of that list, of course, was his early recognition of the threat posed by Adolf Hitler's Nazi government in Germany.
Also near the top of the list of unpopular ideas was Churchill's Special Operations Executive, or SOE, a top secret black ops unit that did research and development to invent new ways to harass and eventually defeat the German Army.
The team earned the nickname "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare" because Churchill was determined to toss the old 19th-century rules of engagement and adapt to the realities of modern warfare, employing any means necessary to defeat Britain's enemies.
The SOE attracted a variety of eccentrics and rule breakers, inventors and warriors who displayed talents that would never be appreciated in more hidebound corners of U.K. society. Those outside-the-box characters are exactly the individuals that Ritchie is so good at bringing to life, and the real-life history offers enough raw material for a series of excellent movies.
The operatives who went behind enemy lines had little chance of returning, and their missions were devised so that the warriors could wreak as much havoc as possible before their likely demise. Not many survived the war, so their stories remained mostly untold for decades.
Paramount Pictures has been developing the movie since 2015 alongside producer Jerry Bruckheimer ("Top Gun"). The Latest draft is penned by Arash Amel ("A Private War"), with previous drafts written by the team of Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson ("Patriots Day," "The Finest Hours" and "The Outpost").
When you hire Guy Ritchie, you're looking for him to bring along oddball characters from every level of British society, so it's likely he'll take a pass at the script before the film begins production.
This one could be a winner. We'll keep an eye out for casting news and production updates and hope we'll get to see this one in late 2022 or early 2023. In the meantime, check out Damien Lewis' book and Giles Milton's excellent "Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler's Defeat." Both books are outstanding introductions to a colorful and important sliver of WWII history.
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