Private's Progress (1956) - Rotten Tomatoes

Private's Progress (1956)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

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Movie Info

The Boulting Brothers enjoyed one of their biggest box-office successes of the 1950s with the wry service comedy Private's Progress. Though billed fourth, Ian Carmichael plays the central character, feckless British soldier Stanley Windrush. Interrupting his college education to serve his country, Windrush flunks out of officer's candidate school and is demoted to private. Much of the humor arises from the bookish hero's confrontation with the ruder and cruder side of army life, as represented by rough-hewn fellow private Cox (Richard Attenborough). As Major Hitchcock, Terry-Thomas offers a brilliant parody of the "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" school of military service, while Dennis Price is equally amusing as a nonplussed commanding officer named Tracepurcel (!) Also worth watching is future "Dr. Who" star William Hartnell as a loudmouthed sergeant. Halfway through the film, the plot rears its ugly head as the protagonists become involved with the covert reclamation of art treasures confiscated by the Nazis during WW2.

Cast

Richard Attenborough
as Pvt. Percival Henry Cox
Dennis Price
as Brig. Bertram Tracepurcel
Ian Carmichael
as Stanley Windrush
Terry-Thomas
as Major Hitchcock
William Hartnell
as Sgt. Sutton
Thorley Walters
as Capt. Bootle
Jill Adams
as Prudence Greenslade
Ian Bannen
as Pvt. Horrocks
Victor Maddern
as Pvt. George Blake
Kenneth Griffith
as Pvt. Dai Jones
John Warren
as Sgt. Maj. Gradwick
Miles Malleson
as Mr. Windrush
Michael Trubshawe
as Col. Panshawe
John Le Mesurier
as Psychiatrist
Sally Miles
as Catherine
Brian Oulton
as M.O. at Gravestone Camp
Nicholas Bruce
as German Officer
David Lodge
as Lance Corporal Parsons
Frank Hawkins
as Drill Sergeant
Basil Dignam
as Col. Martin
Henry Longhurst
as Mr. Spottiswood
Henry Oscar
as Art Expert
Theodore Zichy
as German Agent
Robert Bruce
as Testing Officer
Ludwig Lawinski
as General von Lembeck
Irlyn Hall
as NAAFI Girl
Marianne Stone
as Miss Sugden
Lockwood West
as Detective
Jack McNaughton
as Medical Orderly
Eynon Evans
as Ticket Collector
Glyn Houston
as Corporal on Sick Call
Lloyd Lamble
as Officer at Medical Hearing
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Critic Reviews for Private's Progress

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Audience Reviews for Private's Progress

This light, military comedy is an early hit from the Boulting brothers ("Brighton Rock," "Twisted Nerve," "The Family Way," "There's a Girl in My Soup," "Heavens Above!"). It may remind contemporary audiences of both "The Phil Silvers Show" (contraband deals and get-rich scheming) and "Stripes" (a misfit stumbles through basic training, then joins a mettle-testing mission involving a quick sneak over enemy lines). And of course, it overlaps with its more famous sequel, "I'm All Right Jack." Peter Sellers is absent from "Private's Progress," but the film does star Ian Carmichael as the same privileged, clumsily apologetic twit seen in "Jack." Multiple other actors also play repeat roles, including Terry-Thomas, Dennis Price, Kenneth Griffith and Richard Attenborough (such a sharp presence, and always so hard to connect with his later persona as a prestigious director). Oddly, the cast also includes an uncredited Christopher Lee in a small part as a German officer. The film could use a better villain -- the camp's ineffectual commanders are so wishy-washy that their dealings with the soldiers are short on comic sparks. The script also has less of the punchy social satire that distinguishes "Heavens Above!" and "I'm All Right Jack," which is unfortunate. It's mostly about gentle laughs and good fun, though a deadpan prologue about military bureaucracy scores some direct hits.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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