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  • Private's Progress [VHS] [1956]
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Private's Progress [VHS] [1956]

27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Ian Carmichael, Richard Attenborough, Henry B. Longhurst, Dennis Price, Terry-Thomas
  • Directors: John Boulting
  • Writers: John Boulting, Alan Hackney, Frank Harvey
  • Producers: Roy Boulting, Ernest Holding
  • Format: PAL, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: 3 July 2000
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CJSA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,970 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Upper class twit Windrush (Ian Carmichael) causes military mayhem when he joins up in the army. An inept soldier, he unwittingly becomes involved in his high-ranking uncle's (Dennis Price) scam to appropriate some rather valuable spoils of war - a haul of German jewels. A sequel followed with 'I'm Alright Jack'.

From Amazon.co.uk

With a remarkable cast headlined by Ian Carmichael, Richard Attenborough, Dennis Price and Terry Thomas, WWII army comedy Private's Progress was one of the major British hits of 1956. Carmichael is Stanley Windrush, a naïve young soldier who during training falls in with the streetwise Private Cox (Attenborough). Windrush's uncle is the even more ambitiously corrupt Colonel Tracepurcel (Price), who plans to divert the war effort to liberate art treasures already looted by the Germans. The first half of the film is quite pedestrian, though the pace picks up considerably once the heist gets underway, and the cheery tone masks a really rather dark and cynical heart.

Carmichael's innocent abroad quickly wears thin, but Attenborough and Price steal the film, as well as the paintings, with typically excellent turns. With a nod in the direction of Ealing's The Ladykillers (1955) the film also anticipates the attitudes of both The League of Gentlemen (1959) and Joseph Heller's novel Catch 22 (1961), though lacks the latter's greater sophistication. The cast also contains such British stalwarts as William Hartnell, Peter Jones, Ian Bannen, John Le Mesurier, Christopher Lee and David Lodge, and was sufficiently popular to reunite all the major players for the superior sequel, I'm Alright Jack (1959).

On the DVD: Private's Progress is presented in black and white at 4:3 Academy ratio, though the film appears to have been shot full frame and then unmasked for home viewing so there is more top and bottom to the images than at the cinema. The print used shows constant minor damage and is quite grainy, though no more than expected for a low-budget film of the time. The mono sound is average and unremarkable, and there are no special features. --Gary S Dalkin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Toby Dammit on 24 Jan. 2011
Format: DVD
Private's Progress is one of the great comedies of British cinema, with a top notch cast, both above and below the title, all at the top of their game. Unfortunately Optimum, who have released this edition are not the best company when it comes to quality control and this is a rather poor transfer. The picture quality isn't great and there are two noticeable line blips at the beginning of the film. But the worst fault is a warped soundtrack that causes the music to constantly go in and out of tune. A real shame.

The film is worth five stars and the transfer is worth one, so I've split the difference and given it three stars.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Craig R. Hodge on 3 Oct. 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
In this enchantingly funny film Ian Carmichael plays the innocent accident prone university student who is conscripted in the army during WW2. Being a University Student he is automatically sent for officer training. Very quickly we find out that he's not officer material, & is sent back to the ranks. Here he meets up with Richard Attenborough (Private Cox) & learns every dodge in the book. Terry "You're an absolute Shower" Tomas plays the camp commander who catches them on one of their little dodges. Transfers them both to new divisions. Ian Carmichael has been sent to army intelligence to learn Japanese. He is then sent to Germany by his Officer Uncle. So again he's in a great comedy situation, a Japanese Interpreter in Germany. Again he meets up with Private Cox, & the scams begin again.

This is a gentle comedy that all the family can watch. There's no bad language or violence as such. It's the type of wet Sunday afternoon film that puts a smile back on your face.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By L O'connor on 3 Oct. 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael) is called up during WW2 and sent for training under the permanently exasperated Sergeant played by William Hartnell. Failing officer training he is sent to a holding camp presided over by Terry-Thomas, with his perpetual cry of "You're a shower, an absolute shower". Here he encounters the crafty Private Cox (Richard Attenborough) who explains to him how it is possible to avoid active service more or less indefinitely, only, as he explains "the trouble is you're educated, and that sort of limits, you, doesn't it?". Cox and his mates are up to all sorts of nefarious activities, and Windrush finds himself in all kinds of trouble. Meanwhile his dodgy Uncle Bertie (Dennis Price) is up to some shady dealings in art.
Finally Windrush's luck runs out and he is sent to train as a Japanese interpreter, but unfortunately he is sent to Germany, where Japanese isn't much use. He neds up disguised as a German officer, and once more encounters Uncle Bertie and Private Cox, who are intent on taking possession of as much as they can of a hoarde of art treasures stolen by the Nazis. Windrush, naturally, hasn't a clue what is going on, and manages to get himself captures by the British, who don't believe he's not a German. Safely back in England, with the war ended, it seems his troubles are over, but fate has more surprises in store for him.
This is a very funny film, with Richard Attenborough particularly good as crafty private Cox, and Terry-Thomas and Dennis Price very funny too. Ian Carmichael plays the bemused innocent in several films, but in my opinion this is by far most amusing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kidner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 May 2012
Format: DVD
The Halliwell's Film Guide that I used to get and live by always praised 'Private's Progress', but has it ever been on TV? Not that I know of and as someone in his mid 40's I hardly would have seen it when it was theatrically released.

So, now, to my just purchased Terry Thomas Collection; very good value and which includes this film plus five more. I would suggest this be the best way of buying Private's Progress, as the remainder (not seen yet) are well regarded and Thomas starred in some great films.

My second viewing in two days and I'm loving the disarmingly naive Ian Carmichael, who isn't quite a fish out of water but is certainly floundering at the edges. The film is set in 1942 and the offbeat intro sets the tone. The script is superb, gently bristling with satirical jibes and subtle in-jokes that are only revealed after repeat viewings. The comedy relies on intelligent writing rather than visual gags, so give it a chance - and concentrate!

The cast list is quite an extravaganza, a feast of well-known and famous faces that I was brought up on. Aside of the aforementioned Terry Thomas, who is the entertainingly robust toff Major Hitchcock, John Le Mesurier as an Army psychiatrist and a bounder of a chancing fellow private, Richard Attenborough. As Private Cox, he instigates a major theme of this film, getting out all you can from an unfortunate situation that war happens to be. We might associate such waspish satire with the likes of Hollywood writers such as Billy Wilder and his 'Stalag 17', but this is our very own, very English example.

There's also an array of other, lesser characters that will be familiar to anybody who watches Brit movies of the '60s.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BlackBrigand TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Aug. 2013
Format: DVD
PRIVATE'S PROGRESS 1956 R2 DVD

Back in the 1980s I replaced most of my collection of 8mm movies with VHS and now I am going through a same process of upgrading everything to DVD. This also gives me the excuse to re-visit older films that I have not viewed for some time. This 1957 Boulting Brothers comedy, based on the Henry Cecil novel brought together the talents of Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas, Dennis Price and Richard Attenborough four of the top star of British film comedy. I remember being taken to see this movie at the quaint Odeon Cinema in Salisbury as a boy which was paired with BROTHERS IN LAW starring the same team when they were on release in the late fifties.

I never did manage to obtain an 8 mm or even a VHS copy of this scarce film which to my knowledge has never even been shown on British television and was pleased when I bought this DVD edition a couple of years ago. Oddly I now have two copies as it also appears in the Terry-Thomas Collection. Both copies are from Optimum and although neither are restored and the transfer is a bit graining in places the collection copy seems to have slightly better sound...strange?

Ian Carmichael plays Stanley Windrush a university student called up towards the end of the war. He quickly proves himself not to be officer material which leads him to meet up with wily Private Cox, Richard Attenborough, who knows exactly how to fiddle a 'shirker's ticket' in the British Army. Add in Stanley's brigadier uncle, Dennis Price, an art fraudster and con-man and the incompetent and naive Windrush find himself propelled into a scheme to steal looted art treasures from the Germans.
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