The Way Ahead

  • Film
  • War films
Scripted by Eric Ambler and Peter Ustinov, this is more complex than Dick Lester's scornful '60s parody of it in How I Won the War suggests. Reed achieves his transformation of a bunch of lazy, quarrelsome civilians into a proficient fighting force with a minimum of machismo and glory. Unlike today's sinister professional force, this is a people's army. Niven's officer is a car mechanic up from the ranks, and Hartnell's thin-lipped sergeant scourges out class differences with a rigorous application of army discipline. Despite a framework which stresses regimental traditions and military valour, the film's celebration of the ordinary man as soldier leaves a residue of radicalism.

Release details

Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Carol Reed
Screenwriter: Eric Ambler, Peter Ustinov
Cast: David Niven
Stanley Holloway
Raymond Huntley
William Hartnell
James Donald
John Laurie
Leslie Dwyer
Hugh Burden
Jimmy Hanley
Renee Asherson
Trevor Howard
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