6.9/10
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31 user 11 critic

The Way Ahead (1944)

Approved | | Drama, War | 3 June 1945 (USA)
World War II drama that follows a group of British draftees, starting with their rigorous basic training, and ending with their deployment in North Africa.

Director:

Carol Reed

Writers:

Eric Ambler (original story), Eric Ambler (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Categorised as a British World War II propaganda film this less known example is a superb work of morale-boosting films from mid World War 2. Well written and directed the film has a simple... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Niven ... Lt. Jim Perry
Stanley Holloway ... Pte. Ted Brewer
James Donald ... Pte. Evan Lloyd
John Laurie ... Pte. Luke
Leslie Dwyer Leslie Dwyer ... Pte. Sid Beck
Hugh Burden ... Pte. Bill Parsons
Jimmy Hanley ... Pte. Geoffrey Stainer (as Jimmie Hanley)
William Hartnell ... Sgt. Ned Fletcher (as Billy Hartnell)
Reginald Tate Reginald Tate ... The Training Company Commanding Officer
Leo Genn ... Capt. Edwards
John Ruddock John Ruddock ... Chelsea Pensioner
A. Bromley Davenport A. Bromley Davenport ... Chelsea Pensioner (as Bromley Davenport)
Renée Asherson ... Marjorie Gillingham (as Renee Ascherson)
Mary Jerrold Mary Jerrold ... Mrs. Gillingham
Tessie O'Shea Tessie O'Shea ... Herself - ENSA Entertainer
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Storyline

A group of draftees are called up into the infantry during World War II. At first, they appear to be 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 North Africa, they realize what it's all about. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Story of Today---YOU'LL REMEMBER FOREVER! (original ad - several caps)

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

3 June 1945 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Immortal Battalion See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Two Cities Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (recorded on) (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The book "The Film Business--A History of British Cinema 1896-1972" by Ernest Betts states this movie "was originally made as a War Office instructional film under the title 'The New Lot', but was later developed into a full-length commercial feature at the suggestion of Filippo Del Giudice." See more »

Goofs

Following some energetic army training, Private Bill Parsons is seen sitting on the grass at the top of a cliff, with his colleagues, exhausted. However, the action then cuts to him being helped up the cliff. See more »

Quotes

Pvt. Ted Brewer: Only one good man ever got into Parliament.
Pvt. Herbert Davenport: Oh really? Who?
Pvt. Ted Brewer: Bleedin' Guy Fawkes.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: MARCH 1939 See more »

Alternate Versions

The version seen on American TV under the alternate title "The Immortal Battalion" has been re-edited and extensively cut (from 115 to 91 or 86 minutes) by Ed Fitz with an added preface and epilogue by war correspondent Quentin Reynolds. See more »

Connections

Featured in Master When: Public Domain Doctor Who (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Lily of Laguna
(uncredited)
Written by Leslie Stuart
Sung in Rispoli's Cafe by the platoon and others
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Best war movie made in the 2nd World War
30 April 2004 | by ubercommandoSee all my reviews

I really can't understand some of the more negative comments from some reviewers from the USA about this movie. For me, it is far superior to equivalent American wartime propaganda movies (including enjoyable but hardly realistic efforts such as 7 Graves To Cairo and Sahara), and made and acted by a British cast who were serving servicemen as well (unlike a certain J. Wayne or H. Bogart). Carol Reed gives us on the surface a cliche ridden movie but his gritty visual style which would become his trademark plus a script that still gives depth to a by now familiar concept lift this way above other movies made at the time.

The soldiers don't look pristine and for most of the time, don't act heroically until the last 5 minutes. They're not an elite unit (as in Sands of Iwo Jima), they grumble, complain and stagger their way to the front lines but nor are they goofballs, pranksters or loveable rogues. They are ordinary men in difficult times, which was what the film makers wanted to show. They are not all broad stereotypes either; some, like the characters Davenport or Brewer, may on the surface seem like the upper class toff and the cheeky cockney but again, the way they interplay with the rest of the cast, they become more than just representatives of their class.

For an old war movie, I was impressed with the action. Early on, when the two old soldiers are talking about how much better it was in the army in their day, we get a juxtaposed montage of David Niven in training, showing how hard it is. A lot of the burning troop ship shots are done hand held, which adds to the tension. The Tunisia scenes look very authentic and see how Reed indulges in rapid cutting, disorienting explosions and run down and dirty art direction. The only film that comes close to achieving this kind of grittiness in the war years is "Guadalcanal Diary".


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