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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.


Carol Reed


Eric Ambler (original story), Eric Ambler (screen play) | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »




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 ... 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 ... Mrs. Gillingham
Tessie O'Shea Tessie O'Shea ... Self - ENSA Entertainer


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


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


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Theatrical movie debut of Renée Asherson (Marjorie Gillingham). See more »


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 »


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

When originally released theatrically in the UK, the BBFC made cuts to secure a 'U' rating. All cuts were waived in 1986 when the film was granted a 'U' certificate for home video. See more »


Featured in War Stories (2006) See more »


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

User Reviews

The Kind of Men Democracies Produce
4 April 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

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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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


Sound Mix:

Mono (recorded on) (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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