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Private’s Progress



Mild undergraduate Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael) is called up for military service during the Second World War but has a hard time since he proves to be singularly unsuited to army life.

He disappoints Major Hitchcock (Terry-Thomas) who expects, on his posting to a Holding Unit, that Windrush will be a good influence on his lazy barrack mates, led by expert scrounger Private Percival Henry Cox (Richard Attenborough). Windrush is subsequently sent to language school where he learns Japanese. Then, through the influence of his uncle Bertram (Dennis Price) at the War Office, Windrush joins an expedition into enemy territory where, disguised as German soldiers, they are dropped behind German lines to recover looted art treasures. The mission requires a knowledge of German which Windrush does not have. The operation is, in reality, an elaborate swindle devised by Bertram to keep the treasures out of official hands and, after a series of misadventures, the art treasures make their way back to him. But Cox’s over-confidence results in the police becoming suspicious…

Terry-Thomas initially turned down the part of the heavy-drinking major but was persuaded to accept by his agent. His line ‘You’re an absolute shower!’ became a national catch-phrase. Stanley Windrush and actor Ian Carmichael would go on to appear in the even better Boulting Bros comedy I’m All Right Jack

production details
UK | 97 minutes | 1956
Director: John Boulting
Script: John Boulting, Frank Harvey from Alan Hackney’s novel,

Terry-Thomas as Major Hitchcock
Ian Carmichael as Pte. Stanley Windrush
Victor Maddern as Private George Blake
Kenneth Griffith as Private Dai Jones
Richard Attenborough as Pvt. Percival Henry Cox
Jill Adams as Prudence Greenslade
William Hartnell as Sgt. Sutton
Christopher Lee as Major Schultz
George Coulouris as Padre
John Le Mesurier as Psychiatrist
Ian Bannen as Private Horrocks
Peter Jones as Arthur Egan
Dennis Price as Brig. Bertram Tracepurcel
Miles Malleson as Mr. Windrush Sr.
Marianne Stone as Miss Sugden