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Private's Progress
Directed by John Boulting
Produced by Roy Boulting
Written by Alan Hackney (novel)
John Boulting
Frank Harvey
Starring Ian Carmichael
Richard Attenborough
Dennis Price
Miles Malleson
William Hartnell
Music by John Addison
Cinematography Eric Cross
Editing by Anthony Harvey
Distributed by British Lion Films
Release date(s) 1956
Running time 95 min.
Country U.K.
Language English

Private's Progress is a British comedy film of 1956, 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.



The action takes place during World War II and follows the adventures of a young undergraduate Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael) who 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. Failing his officer selection board, he is posted to a holding unit, under the command of Major Hitchcock. Most of the soldiers are malingerers and drop-outs.

Windrush is finally posted to train as a Japanese interpreter, where he becomes the prize pupil. He's then contacted by his uncle, 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, ostensibly to recover looted artworks from the Germans, but in fact to steal the works and sell them to two very dodgy art dealers.

Windrush survives the operation, despite being briefly arrested by British forces whilst in German uniform, and is discharged from the army. He returns to University, but when some of the artworks are found to have identical copies in circulation, the game is up.


The movie was primarily filmed at Shepperton Studios, however 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. Their 1959 comedy I'm All Right Jack also featured many of the same actors and characters. A number of references are made to the events of Private's Progress.


Additional crew

  • Cinematographer: Eric Cross
  • Music: John Addison
  • Art Direction: Allan Harris
  • Editor: Anthony Harvey

External links



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