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Thread: The Way Ahead

  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Germany JD_Fan's Avatar
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    The Way Ahead is a British Second World War drama released in 1944. It stars David Niven and Stanley Holloway, and follows a group of civilians who are conscripted into the British Army to fight in North Africa.





    I saw this movie last month because of James Donald, my favorite actor.

    “The Way Ahead? is a wonderful addition to the History of film. The acting (David Niven, Stanley Holloway, James Donald, John Laurie...) is first class.

    The script is intelligent and you do find yourself caring for these drafted men. The final advance is haunting.



    Anyone remember this British film.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Country: Great Britain
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    It's based on an earlier film The New Lot, also by Eric Ambler and Peter Ustinov, and starring quite a few of the orginal cast, although there's no James Donald - but it does have Robert Donat. It's available on DVD as an extra on the Next of Kin disc, which is available from DDHE - Search Results for 'next of kin'



    The Way Ahead (1944)



    The New Lot (1943)



    Nick

  3. #3
    Member Country: New Zealand
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    The Way Ahead



    I am a huge fan of the classic film 'The Way Ahead', which was released in 1944 and starred a huge cast of brilliant actors such as David Niven, William Hartnell, John Laurie, Leslie Dwyer, Stanley Holloway, Raymond Huntley, Hugh Burden, Peter Ustinov, Jimmy Hanley, Jack Watling, Leslie Howard and many more. Real top brass cast.



    I'm also a fan of the film that inspired it, the Army film 'The New Lot'.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK Chevyman's Avatar
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    Hi Dave,



    You might find the following links useful:-





    The Way Ahead (1944)



    The New Lot (1943)



    There are quite a few members on here who appreciate/admire the film.



    I've just watched "The Way Ahead" myself and concur with your view



    Welcome by the way

  5. #5
    Member Country: New Zealand
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    Thanks for the welcome Chevyman.



    I am very familiar with IMDb but I have to admit last time I looked up The Way Ahead on that site's entry I never noticed those two locations listed.



    So apparently it was made at Denham Studios and at Pirbright Army Camp. So I wonder if all the elaborate North African town was just a very well made set, and the same for the ship. Amazing if that's the case. Of course IMDb could be incomplete.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    In between going to B&Q and putting shelves up,I have been watching this flag waver from 1944. There is a scene where William Hartnell goes into the billet to meet the conscripts for the first time. As he enters the door,a soldier outside walks past and seemingly sticks his nose up at an officer passing by. An in-joke maybe on set.

    Ta Ta

    Marky B

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    I noticed the scene you mention, and at first thought the soldier was 'saluting' nobody - only after a couple of seconds did the officer walk past..

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Did you also notice an uncredited Trevor Howard?

    Ta Ta

    Marky B

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: Europe Bernardo's Avatar
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    The army used it as an induction, training film with a mottley band of new recruits joining up in the style of 'The Army Game' or 'Carry On Sergeant'. The film follows them through training to North Africa where they are billetted in a hotel run by Peter Ustinov's terrible rendition of an Arab.

    Dated propaganda film made interesting by the cast. Worth a look if it is raining or set the recorder but I would not stay in to watch it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Or, alternatively, it's one of the finest British WW2 films. Yes, it was slightly dated at the time - by 1944 persuading to conscripts to accept their lot wasn't really an issue but we can forget that now and look at it as a superb tribute to the way the army moulds a bucnh of extremely unlikely recruits into a troop of fighting men. Excellent cast and really well worth two hours of your time.



    Was it used as induction training? I know that was the purpose of The New Lot but I would have thought that by 1944 the only new recruits were 18 year olds, unlikely to be very inspired by a bunch of recruits old enough to be their parents (or grandparents in Stanley Holloway's case!)

  11. #11
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    The Way Ahead started life as an Army training and instructional film, The New Lot, written by Peter Ustinov and Eric Ambler and starring some of the cast that finished up in The Way Ahead (Niven came in later). The training film had upset some Army top brass with its frankness and was suppressed. It has recently re-emerged thanks to a copy found in an archive.



    The Way Ahead was still used for officer training in Australia as recently as 1983.





    It can be read as more than just an Army training film or a film about people forced into conscripted service. It's also about a group of people realising that although they have different backgrounds and different skills they have a common goal and can work together as a team. That can be applied to many different areas of life.



    Steve

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook

    The Way Ahead was still used for officer training in Australia as recently as 1983.


    But was it used as an induction film in 1944? It was released at the same time as D-Day - I wouldn't have thought there were too many older conscripts by that time. Certainly The British at War: Cinema, State and Propaganda, 1939-45 Cinema and Society: Amazon.co.uk: James Chapman: Books doesn't mention that aspect of its release. Incidentally it didn't do very well at the box office simply because people were bored of forces films by that time.



    The New Lot is well worth seeking out - it's on the IWM edition of The Next of Kin (also worth seeing)

  13. #13
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainWaggett
    But was it used as an induction film in 1944? It was released at the same time as D-Day - I wouldn't have thought there were too many older conscripts by that time. Certainly this book - link doesn't mention that aspect of its release. Incidentally it didn't do very well at the box office simply because people were bored of forces films by that time.
    I don't think that The Way Ahead was ever used as an Army induction film.



    The New Lot was commissioned to be that, an induction and training film. But the Army didn't like it when it was finished, it was too realistic.



    Although even The New Lot was only made after the main lot of conscripts were already settled in and had finished their training. It was only released in 1943



    Steve

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: England smiffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainWaggett



    The New Lot is well worth seeking out - it's on the IWM edition of The Next of Kin (also worth seeing)
    I bought this after reading about it on the Forum ( It may even have been your recommendation captain ) and what a little gem It turned out to be. The three short films with It the new lot / read all about It and what's the next job are a sheer delight also .

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: England Number Six's Avatar
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    The Way Ahead is indeed a little gem - a fascinating look at the attitude to the so-called class structure within service life at the time - and what an array of British actors it has, David Niven, Stanley Holloway, Jimmy Hanley, William Hartnell, John Laurie, Raymond Huntley, Anton Rogers to name but a few!!! Well worth watching.

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