Private's Progress

Private's Progress is a 1956 British comedy film based on the novel by Alan Hackney. It was directed and produced by John and Roy Boulting, from a script by John Boulting and Frank Harvey.[2]

Private's Progress
Original UK cinema poster
Directed byJohn Boulting
Produced byRoy Boulting
Screenplay byJohn Boulting
Frank Harvey
Based onPrivate's Progress
by Alan Hackney
StarringIan Carmichael
Richard Attenborough
Dennis Price
Music byJohn Addison
CinematographyEric Cross
Edited byAnthony Harvey
Distributed byBritish Lion Films (UK)
Release date
  • 17 February 1956 (1956-02-17) (UK)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£310,870 (UK)[1]


During World War II, the young undergraduate Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael), is conscripted into the British Army. Unlike his friend Egan (Peter Jones), Windrush is a most reluctant soldier and struggles through basic training at Gravestone Barracks (Author Hackney spent the first year of his National Service at Maidstone Barracks).[3] Failing his officer selection board, he is posted to a holding unit, under the command of Major Hitchcock (Terry-Thomas). Most of the soldiers there are malingerers and drop-outs.

Windrush is finally posted to train as a Japanese interpreter, where he becomes the prize pupil. He is then contacted by his uncle, Brigadier Tracepurcel (Dennis Price), now a senior officer in the War Office, to join a secret operation known only as "Hatrack". He is quickly commissioned and the operation is launched, Windrush becoming an unwitting participant in a scheme ostensibly to recover looted artworks from the Germans, but really to steal them and sell them to two crooked art dealers.

Windrush survives the operation, despite being briefly arrested by British forces whilst in German uniform, and is discharged from the army. Tracepurcel and his associate Private Cox (Richard Attenborough) fake their own deaths. Windrush returns to university after the war, and is surprised to receive a visit from Cox, who brings him an attaché case. However, Cox is arrested as he leaves, he and Tracepurcel having been tracked as the source of a counterfeit copy of one of the artworks. Windrush innocently reveals to the military police the contents of the case—a large sum of money—and is also arrested, assumed to be complicit in the fraud.



The film was primarily filmed at Shepperton Studios, but a number of scenes were filmed at Wantage Hall, a hall of residence for the University of Reading.

It was the first in a series of successful satirical comedies made by the Boulting brothers for their production company Charter Films.[4] Their 1959 comedy, I'm All Right Jack, featured many of the same actors and characters. A number of references are made to the events of Private's Progress.[5]


The film was the second most popular movie at the British box office in 1956.[6][7]

The New York Times wrote, "the Boultings have come up with an ingenious story and injected hilarious moments. But the whole thing sparkles and fizzles."[8]


  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p506
  2. "Private's Progress (1956) - BFI". BFI.
  3. Alan Hackney, Daily Telegraph
  4. "BFI Screenonline: Boulting Brothers".
  5. "BFI Screenonline: I'm All Right Jack (1959)".
  6. BRITISH. FILMS MADE MOST MONEY: BOX-OFFICE SURVEY The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 28 Dec 1956: 3
  7. Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32 no. 3. p. 259.
  8. "Private's Progress Opens at the Guild". The New York Times. 24 July 1956. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.