HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Thelma
Stratton
February
Taking of Beverly Hills, The
Marjorie Prime
Hotel Salvation
Mangler, The
Shiraz
Mercy, The
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Molly Maguires, The
Party, The
Dante's Peak
Housemaid, The
Vendetta
Brimstone
Boys in the Trees
Once Were Warriors
Red Planet Mars
Blade Runner 2049
Devil's Express
Belko Experiment, The
Flashback
War of the Arrows
One-Trick Pony
Cloverfield Paradox, The
Beach Rats
In Between
Flesh Feast
Gerald's Game
   
 
Newest Articles
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
   
 
  Private's Progress Marching OrdersBuy this film here.
Year: 1956
Director: John Boulting
Stars: Ian Carmichael, Richard Attenborough, Dennis Price, Terry-Thomas, Peter Jones, William Hartnell, Thorley Walters, Ian Bannen, John Le Mesurier, Jill Adams, Victor Maddern, Kenneth Griffith, Miles Malleson, Michael Trubshawe, Brian Oulton, Christopher Lee
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael) is an undergraduate at university when he receives his call up papers from the Army, and as the year is 1942 with the Second World War raging, his country expects everyone to do their bit for the good of humanity. The trouble with that is, not everyone is entirely capable, and as the now Private Windrush arrives at the Gravestone Army base, his worst fears are soon realised: he may make a fine academic, but he will make a hopeless soldier. He has been given advice by his uncle, Brigadier Tracepurcel (Dennis Price), to contact him in the War Office when he can, but it's looking doubtful Windrush will even get that far...

The British satire boom of the nineteen-sixties did not appear out of nowhere, fully formed and ready to send up the establishment, because it had its roots in the previous decade. The fifties had seen the previous deference to authority engendered by the attitudes of the Second World War begin to crumble as the younger generations began to question it, and nowhere was that more obvious in cinematic terms at least than in the films of the Boulting Brothers. I'm All Right, Jack may have been the twins' most lasting achievement, and their heyday did not last long before they were overtaken by other talents, but they decidedly started something.

Private's Progress was the answer to all those incredibly laudatory war movies that this era offered the public, something which could be seen as not only celebratory of a victory, but self-congratulatory during a period when British power around the world was slipping away. As if recognising this, the Boultings created a send up of all those bulldog spirit stories where it was not some daring raid on the Nazis we were watching, but an endeavour designed to line the pockets of some rather less than noble military types who saw the war as an opportunity to make some serious money. The fact that the film sees them do so well at this under the noses of those at the top - and disguised as Nazis - was pretty scathing for 1956.

It might not seem so abrasive now, but then all these years later we are used to seeing comedy born of making fun of the powers that be, even if we accept that they still hold most of the cards, or perhaps especially because of that. So if Private's Progress could be mild viewing in the modern day, there were still good reasons to watch, and much of that was in the performances of actors who knew of which they spake, having been through the war or at least National Service, and better suited to the task in hand than many would be today. That they were broadcasting this humour to an audience who had had the same experiences ironically offered up a "We're all in it together" tone which was much of the appeal.

Everybody back then would have known a Private Windrush, that hopeless recruit who tried his best but simply was not up to the job, and the film got quite some mileage out of his antics whether it be accidentally sabotaging a tent-raising exercise or finding his slight headache is a nightmare of red tape when he brings it up as an excuse to take it easier that morning. Carmichael was a past master at this sort of polite, well-meaning but rather useless type, and there remain parts of this which can raise a laugh thanks to his expert delivery: the bit of business where he cluelessly resorts to speaking Japanese to a German officer is very funny. He had plenty of help, with Terry-Thomas finding a catchphrase when his officer character deigns anyone who doesn't meet his standards as "an absolute shower", Richard Attenborough as a spiv to all intents and purposes, and a wealth of valuable supporting actors. So began a more critical public mindset that would really get a foothold over the next few years, for better or worse, bringing us from lampooning to outright cynicism. Music by John Addison.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 897 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Jason Cook
  Andrew Irvine
Ian Phillips
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: