Notorious Gentleman (1945)
"The Rake's Progress" (original title)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  1 November 1946 (USA)
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Vivian Kenway, a young Englishman from an aristocratic background, flunks out of Oxford, and decides to use his considerable charm to achieve his goal of, apparently, making dissipation his... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Godfrey Tearle ...
Colonel Robert Kenway
Griffith Jones ...
Sandy Duncan
Margaret Johnston ...
Jennifer Calthorp
Guy Middleton ...
Jean Kent ...
Jill Duncan
Marie Lohr ...
Lady Angela Parks
Garry Marsh ...
Sir Hubert Parks
David Horne ...
Sir John Brockley
Alan Wheatley ...
Brefni O'Rorke ...
John Salew ...
Charles Victor ...
Old Sweat
Jan Van Loewen ...


Vivian Kenway, a young Englishman from an aristocratic background, flunks out of Oxford, and decides to use his considerable charm to achieve his goal of, apparently, making dissipation his career. His derelictions include seduction, betrayals of sweethearts, family and friends, and Marriage for money. All this with no signs of remorse or redemption, since his life as a completely unprincipled rake is quite enjoyable...for him, at least. Then, World War II breaks out and he is given a chance to die a heroic death for flag and country. Maybe. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 November 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Notorious Gentleman  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


"The Hedda Hopper Show - This Is Hollywood" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on November 30, 1946 with Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer reprising their film roles presented under the alternate title "Notorious Gentleman". See more »


Although the bulk of the film takes place in the years 1931-1938, all of the women's hairstyles and clothes are strictly in the 1945 mode, which is all wrong, particularly for the 1931 period. See more »


Vivian Kenway: [opens the door] Oh, I was expecting a friend.
Jennifer Calthrop: You see your mistake...?
See more »


All the King's Horses and All the King's Men
Written by Noel Gay and Harry Graham
See more »

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User Reviews

Beautifully made but the title character is hard to take
5 March 2008 | by (NY, NY) – See all my reviews

Rex Harrison plays a young man, Vivian, who thinks primarily of himself. He's somewhat witty, sort of daring, extremely unreliable. Though his character is tempered slightly as time goes on, as written the character is very obnoxious.

I didn't go to Oxford, as Vivian does for a time. But I went to an Ivy League school and I knew many people like him: showoffs who thumbed their nose at convention but wanted, and generally had, the money convention brings. I was transported back not just to the time of the film but also a few decades back to the wise guy cutups of my own college years.

Harrison does a good job. Indeed, he seems to be playing himself, though that was doubtless just fine acting. I like him in most of what I've seen, particularly in "Anna and the King of Siam" and the brilliant "Unfaithfully Yours." The rest of the cast is superb, too: His real-life wife of the time, Lilli Palmer is very charming. Playing an Austrian girl, she reminded me of Luise Rainer, sans music. Griffith Jones plays his ostensibly more stuffy friend. To me, he is infinitely more appealing in all regards. And Margaret Johnston is beauty and charm itself as Vivian's father's secretary.

It would be interesting to show this on a double-bill with "Look Back in Anger." That was written as an antidote to the "mustn't forget about tea" movies and especially plays that had preceded it.

Yet Jimmy Porter, its protagonist, comes across today just as badly as Harrison's character does. The acting in that film, too, is marvelous. But at the core of each is a character who is not just a boor: Jimmy and Vivian are really creeps, though we are not intended to think them so.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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