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Danny, the Champion of the World (film)

danny the champion of the world (film) the space, danny the champion of the world (film)
Danny, the Champion of the World is a 1989 film starring British Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons, with his son, Samuel, in the title role It is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl, and tells of a father and son who conspire to thwart a local businessman's plans to buy their land by poaching his game pheasants It was filmed on location in Oxfordshire, mostly at Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames The book is written in the style of a reflective memoir by an adult Danny, who the reader might presume grew up in 1950s or 1960s rural England: however, Chapter 6 reveals that the period was in fact the 1970s, given that the "Baby Austin" car that William and Danny were repairing was more than 40 years old, having been made in 1933 The film is set in 1955


  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Main cast
  • 3 DVD release
  • 4 External links


In 1955, William Smith Jeremy Irons, a widower, lives with his nine-year-old son, Danny Samuel Irons, in a vardo behind the filling station and garage where he works in the English countryside

The land that the station and garage is built upon is coveted by businessman Victor Hazell Robbie Coltrane, who owns the surrounding land and lives in a large mansion several miles away He attempts to buy the Smiths' land, but William turns down his offers Used to getting his own way, he begins a campaign of harassment, trying to force them off their land Several inspectors from the local council come and assess William's property, and it becomes obvious that Hazell has sent them there by alerting them with false stories

William decides to poach Hazell's prized game pheasants in retribution, using raisins to lure them out, but comes home empty handed; Danny had detected his absence and was relieved to see him return Afterwards, he reveals that he was out poaching

A while afterwards, William informs Danny that he will be going out poaching again at night Danny wakes up during the night, detects his absence he had promised to be back three hours before, and decides to go and look for him He heads for the forest at the wheel of a vintage Austin Seven that William had been repairing, but on the way there he passes a police car, which turns around to pursue him after the officers realized that the car was being driven by an underage driver He manages to shake them off by darting through a gap in the roadside hedges and driving along a country lane until he reaches the forest He then spots two gamekeepers and hides from them, but then he hears them talking to someone in a deep hole in the ground; when they walk off to tell Hazell, Danny goes over and finds that the man in the hole is William, who had fallen into there and broken his ankle He manages to rescue him by tying a rope from the boot of the car to a tree, and pulling him up Hazell and his armed game keepers return to find the pit empty, but hear the car starting and give chase Hazell recognizes the car as William's

The local policeman, Sergeant Enoch Samways, later receives word from Hazell that William has been poaching on his land and goes over to question him However, he deliberately falsifies the report in order to claim that William is innocent his injury is due to "falling down the steps of his caravan", owing to his dislike of Hazell and the fact that he himself is very much into poaching, despite his position of authority

Meanwhile, Danny has started a new term at school, with a new schoolmaster, Captain Lancaster Ronald Pickup, a strict disciplinarian who practices corporal punishment and detests lateness and cheating He has already given Danny 1,000 lines as punishment for being late for school twice When the headmaster, Mr Snoddy Lionel Jeffries, who is secretly rather fond of gin even during school hours, catches him caning Danny after another student whispered to him during class, he gives Lancaster a severe reprimand and tells him he will personally see that he is "out on his ear" if there is ever a repetition of his action; as he had made it clear to him on his appointment that corporal punishment was not permitted in the school

Hazell announces a shooting event and invites several lords and other wealthy businessmen to come and hunt his pheasants, though several mistrust him William and Danny decide to put a grand plan into action to poach all of his pheasants before the event, embarrassing him in front of the people he wanted to impress Danny hits upon the idea of using sleeping pills, given to William by Doc Spencer Cyril Cusack for his broken ankle, to put the pheasants to sleep They fill hundreds of raisins with ground-up pills in preparation The next day, Captain Lancaster catches Danny sleeping in class and makes him run laps around the playground after school as a punishment He escapes by climbing a wall; Lancaster attempts to pursue him, ripping his trousers in the process, and is caught in the act by Mr Snoddy Lancaster resigns out of sheer frustration, much to Snoddy's delight

Danny's plan goes off without a hitch; soon, the garage is filled with sleeping pheasants, whilst the villagers look on in amazement Suddenly, Hazell and his shooting party arrive there, just as most of the pheasants start to wake up, and Hazell threatens to have Danny and William arrested for poaching and trespassing Sgt Samways arrives and, after being rudely insulted by Hazell, informs him and the crowd that no crimes have been committed; the law states that game-birds belong to the owner of the land they are on, which in this case is William Angry and frustrated, Hazell drives off, amid jests from the locals, and loses the respect of his shooting party due to the lack of pheasants to shoot Afterwards, a government official reveals to everyone why Hazell had really invited them: so he could unveil his grand plan of building a new town on the land he owns, which would wipe out the village Without owning the Smiths' land, his plan can't go ahead William, Danny, and the rest of the villagers celebrate this news and Danny, as an act of kindness, releases the pheasants and lets them fly away to pastures new

Main cast

Actor Role
Jeremy Irons William
Robbie Coltrane Victor Hazell
Samuel Irons Danny
Cyril Cusack Doc Spencer
Michael Hordern Lord Claybury
Lionel Jeffries Mr Snoddy Headmaster
Jean Marsh Miss Hunter Social Worker
John Grillo Mr Parker Social Worker
Jimmy Nail Rabbetts Head Gamekeeper
Ronald Pickup Captain Lancaster
John Woodvine Tallon

DVD release

A Region 2 DVD was released in 2005 by Warner Bros It includes a documentary feature called "Danny and the Dirty Dog" referring to Victor Hazell, who is described as a "dirty dog" by Roald Dahl, which features interviews with Roald Dahl, Jeremy Irons, and Robbie Coltrane

External links

  • Danny, the Champion of the World on IMDb
  • Danny, the Champion of the World at AllMovie
  • Danny, the Champion of the World at Rotten Tomatoes
  • Time Out review

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