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A group of conscripts are called up into the infantry during WWII. At first they appear a hopeless bunch but their sergeant and Lieutenant have faith in them and mould them into a good team. When they go into action in N. Africa they realise what it's all about. Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The version of The Way Ahead that I have is one that was edited for the American market and has a narration by US war correspondent Quentin Reynolds. It was his narration that sets the stage for a wartime tribute to the civilians who volunteered for king and country at a time of their nation's greatest peril.
When war in Europe was declared David Niven was one of the British stars in America that went back to serve. Since he had been in the army before taking up acting, he was able to secure a commission. For a good deal of the war he was a training officer and really was drilling the men as we see on Salisbury plain. Some of his time was spent in the commandos in missions to Europe. And he was released to make wartime films Spitfire and The Way Ahead.
The script was written by a 21 year old actor/playwright named Peter Ustinov who has a small role in the film. According to a new biography of Niven in order to secure Ustinov's service, enlisted man Ustinov was attached to officer Niven as his orderly.
A whole lot of faces familiar in the British cinema appeared in The Way Ahead, people like Stanley Holloway, Jimmy Hanley, James Donald, Leo Genn, and Trevor Howard. And it was directed in good style by Carol Reed, one of his earliest films.
One big flaw in the film was that the men who trained with officer Niven and sergeant William Hartnell ended up serving with him in North Africa. Not possible in America and not possible in the UK either. But since the idea was to show camaraderie, I guess that Two Cities Films can be forgiven.
The point of the film and of Quentin Reynolds narration is that in time of peril it is the democracies and not those totalitarian countries with a superman philosophy who have the real strength of character. May it ever be so.
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