THE WAY AHEAD
Carol Reed
UK DVD (2004)

Header Photo: Detail from one of the promo posters for The Way Ahead film. Civilians merging into a single mass i.e. an army. Evocative of the film but without the warmth that pervades the whole story as the recruits become as one.The Way Ahead Dvd details below.

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The Way AheadDvd
T 1944
(January 2017 - back in stock)
Fremantle Home Entertainment


UK BW 109mins

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Review

    In 1942 the director Carol Reed made The New Lot, a 45-minute film produced by the Army Kinema Corporation, aimed at helping recruits find their feet. And it was such a success that Reed subsequently made a feature-length version - The Way Ahead.

One of the finest "in this together" flag-wavers produced in Britain during the Second World War. From Eric Ambler and Peter Ustinov's (who also has a part in the movie) script, director Carol Reed, who had earned a reputation for social realism in the mid-1930s and had spent part of the war making army documentaries, creates a totally believable world in which a squad of raw recruits becomes an integral part of the local community as they go through basic training.

David Niven is top-billed, but he generously enters into the ensemble spirit that makes this beautifully observed drama as uplifting today as in 1944. The film proves what a great actor Niven was for you couldn't envisage say a Larry "Me, Me, Me" Olivier toning down his ME-ness for the sake of the film and being far less obtrusive than his star's status might seem to justify.

Though all the actors gel and are quite brilliant, I have to mention the sublime Stanley Holloway. You know, I have never seen him in a film where he isn't less than wonderful. Here, too, there is no exception. He leads the other soldiers in an evocative sing-along to the wartime song Lily of Laguna and it still sends a shiver down the British spine. It makes you want to discover more of his work. It is good to know he is not forgotten for the popularity of my Holloway page is testament to the fact that I am from alone in being capitivated by his work.

And it is all the more remarkable that the film works so well when you consider that there is no story in the accepted sense, and no love interest. There are momentary shots of femmes, chiefly wives, but no pin-up girls.

Ustinov was only 21 years old when he co-scripted the film but the maturity of the finished product belies his years.

Covering the period from early 1939 to the Tunisian campaign of 1943, The Way Ahead embodies how a totally unprepared, peace-loving people were suddenly catapulted into the mother of all wars which, thankfully, had not been seen before or since.

If you only ever get one war movie or want to get under the skin of the 1940s British people then you're learn everything you want to know from this movie alone.

Today the film leaves a residue of deep regret that the characters of Britain and the British have changed so drastically since then. It was only 60 years ago but it seems we're now in another world completely. And a far worse one at that.

Unmissable.


Trivia:

The army released Niven for nine months to make this morale-boosting propaganda film.

It was written by Major Niven, Major Eric Ambler, and a twenty-one-year old playwright, Private Peter Ustinov, who had just had his first success in the theatre with a play called House of Regrets - 'Best Play of the War', said the Daily Mail.

Niv, Ambler and Ustinov were given a room at the Ritz Hotel in London to work every day on the script.

Niv and Ambler had much more money than Ustinov and often rang room service to order a round of drinks, paying vast Ritz prices, which embarrassed Ustinov because he was earning only 14 shillings a week and could not afford to reciprocate. To raise some money to buy his round occasionally he sold the only valuable thing he owned, a Derain nude, to a dealer for 60 (about 1500 today). Years later he saw the painting again, by now exteremely valuable, hanging on a wall in Niven's house in Hollywood. David said breezily:

    'The best bargain of my life. I bought it off a dealer for 65 when we were all working at the Ritz.'

A curious thing to me is why Niv's name is not on the writing credits of the movie.

Filming started in August 1943 on Salisbury Plains and at Denham Studios.


The Way Ahead & North Africa:

One of my favourite films of all time is Carol Reed's The Way Ahead and being fascinated by the minutiae of the making of the film I've long wondered how they got to make the North African shots so real when they had to be done in the studio. The film was made during the 2nd World War so they couldn't possibly have done them on location. Could they? Well it turns out they did and the following are short extracts from the Peter Ustinov autobioraphy Dear Me (the book itself goes into much more depth and detail) explaining just how they were done. Text below Penguin.

'Eventually shooting began in Denham Studios, and with it, the exciting news that we would do our locations in North Africa'

'The journey to North Africa was uneventful, if one can cal frequent submarine alarms and mountanous seas uneventful. We were aboard a luxury liner, The Monarch of Bermuda, together with Canadian, British and New Zealand troops, and a single Italian officer' (a beautiful and touching story of the Italian then follows)

'Also aboard were a handful of American sportsmen, on their way to entertain American troops with illustrated films of their exploits. Among the group was Jack Sharkey, an ex-heavyweight champion of the world. He was an engaging if monosyllabic character who drank rather heavily one night when the seas were particularly high' (amusing Sharkey story follows)

'In Algiers we acquired another temporarily rejected colonel to help us...'

'Shooting in Philippeville before a fine stucco house...'




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The Way AheadDvd


CAROL REED
The Way Ahead, UK Dvd

  • Dvd Region: 2 Pal (UK & Europe)
  • Certificate: U
  • Format: Black & White, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 4.3 B/w
  • Release Date: 2004

DVD Features:
Main Language: English
Available Audio Tracks: Mono
Hearing Impaired: English
Disc Format: DVD 5

Released in the UK by ITV DVD .

Carol Reed's semi-documentary feature film was one of many flag-waving movies intended to bolster morale during World War II but The Way Ahead's compassion and realism ensures its place in cinema history.

A mismatched collection of conscripted civilians find training tough under Sergeant Jim Perry (David Niven) and Sergeant Ned Fletcher (William Hartnell) when they are called up to replace an infantry battalion that has suffered casualties at Dunkirk.

"To be admired and recommended for its direction, its writing and its playing." - Dilys Powell, The Sunday Times




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Jan. 17: Back in stock. 'Used - very good'.

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The Way Ahead Dvd

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The Way Ahead & North Africa

Carol Reed

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