Written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, the comedy drama follows a 60-year-old taxi driver who, in 1961, stole Francisco Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. It was the first, and remains the only, theft in the Gallery’s history. He sent ransom notes saying that he would return the painting on condition that the government agreed to provide television for free to the elderly.
Pathé International had pre-sold the rest of the world rights prior to the Venice Film Festival. The distributor will release the film in the U.K,, France and Switzerland. Other sales include: Australia (Transmission), Benelux (Paradiso), Canada/Germany/Spain (eOne), China (Huanxi), Czech Republic (AQS), Former Yugoslavia (MCF), Israel (Forum), Italy (BIM), Japan (Phantom), Middle East (Front Row) and Poland (Monolith).
“The Duke” is a Pathé, Ingenious Media and Screen Yorkshire presentation of a Neon Films production. Nicky Bentham is the producer and executive producers are Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé, Andrea Scarso for Ingenious Media, Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire, Peter Scarf and Christopher Bunton.
“‘The Duke’ is a romp first and foremost: Michell’s merry direction makes sure of that. But its stars put a small, dignified lump in its throat,” wrote Guy Lodge, reviewing the film for Variety.
Speaking to Variety about the film, Michell said: “it has this particular tone which is rather like an Ealing comedy. It’s got huge exuberance to it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but it’s not a comedy, if you see what I mean. It’s about a little man speaking truth to power in a wonderfully moving way.”