I'm All Right Jack

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I'm All Right Jack
I'm All Right Jack UK poster.jpg
Original British film poster
Directed byJohn Boulting
Produced byRoy Boulting
Screenplay byFrank Harvey
John Boulting
Alan Hackney
Based onPrivate Life
by Alan Hackney
StarringIan Carmichael
Peter Sellers
Richard Attenborough
Dame Margaret Rutherford
Terry-Thomas
Music byKen Hare
Ron Goodwin
CinematographyMutz Greenbaum
Edited byAnthony Harvey
Production
company
Distributed byBritish Lion Films (UK)
Release date
  • 13 August 1959 (1959-08-13) (UK)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

I'm All Right Jack is a 1959 British comedy film directed and produced by John and Roy Boulting from a script by Frank Harvey, John Boulting and Alan Hackney based on the 1958 novel Private Life by Alan Hackney.[1]

The film is a sequel to the Boultings' 1956 film Private's Progress and Ian Carmichael, Dennis Price, Richard Attenborough, Terry-Thomas and Miles Malleson reprise their characters. Peter Sellers played one of his best-known roles, as the trades union shop steward Fred Kite and won a BAFTA Best Actor Award.[2] The rest of the cast included many well-known British comedy actors of the time.[3]

The film is a parody on British industrial life in the 1950s. The trade unions, workers and bosses are all seen to be incompetent or corrupt to varying degrees. The film is one of a number of satires made by the Boulting Brothers between 1956 and 1963.[4]

The title is a well-known English expression indicating smug and complacent selfishness.[5] The film encapsulates the concept of the "lazy British worker" which pervaded much of the union-dominated climate of the 1960s and 70s.

Plot[edit]

Windrush chats with his father at the Sunnyglades Nudist Camp, and is persuaded to seek a job as a business executive: he interviews at the "Detto" company making washing detergent and making a very unfavourable impression fails to get the job. He then interviews at "Num-Yum" a factory making processed cakes. Although it tastes good the process for making the cakes is very disturbing. An excess of samples causes him to be sick into a large mixing bowl of the product. Again he fails to get the job. The recruitment agent tells Windrush by letter that after getting 11 interviews in 10 days and making a singularly unimpressive impression that industry isn't for him.

His uncle, Bertram Tracepurcel and his old army comrade, Sidney DeVere Cox, persuade Windrush to take an unskilled blue-collar job at Tracepurcel's missile factory, Missiles Ltd. At first suspicious of Windrush as an over-eager newcomer, communist shop steward Fred Kite at first asks that Stanley is sacked for not having a union card.

However, after a period of work-to-rule, he takes Stanley under his wing and even offers to take him in as a lodger. When Kite's curvaceous daughter Cynthia drops by, Stanley readily accepts.

Meanwhile, personnel manager Major Hitchcock is assigned a time and motion study expert, Waters, to measure how efficient the employees are. The workers refuse to cooperate but Waters tricks Windrush into showing him how much more quickly he can do his job with his forklift truck than other more experienced employees. When Kite is informed of the results, he calls a strike to protect the rates his union workers are being paid. This is what Cox and Tracepurcel want: Cox owns a company that can take over a large new contract with a Middle Eastern country at an inflated cost. He, Tracepurcel and a Mr Mohammed, the country's representative, would each pocket a third of the £100,000 difference (£2.3 million today). The excuse to the foreign government is that a faster contract costs more.

The union meet and decide to punish Windrush by "sending him to Coventry" and he is informed of this in writing. Stanley's rich aunt visits the Kite household. Mrs Kite decides she is going on strike.

Things don't work out for either side. Cox arrives at his factory, Union Jack Foundries, to find that his workers are walking out in a sympathy strike. The press reports that Kite is punishing Windrush for working hard. When Windrush decides to cross the picket line and go back to work (and reveals his connection with the company's owner), Kite asks him to leave his house. This provokes the adoring Cynthia and her mother to go on strike. More strikes spring up, bringing the country to a standstill.

Faced with these new developments, Tracepurcel has no choice but to send Hitchcock to negotiate with Kite. They reach an agreement but Windrush has made both sides look bad and has to go.

Cox tries to bribe Windrush with a bagful of money to resign but Windrush turns him down. On a televised discussion programme ("Argument") hosted by Malcolm Muggeridge, Windrush reveals to the nation the underhanded motivations of all concerned. When he throws Cox's bribe money into the air, the studio audience riots.

In the end, Windrush is accused of causing a disturbance and bound over to keep the peace for 12 months. He is last seen with his father relaxing at a nudist colony, only to have to flee from the female residents' attentions. Unlike in the opening scene this time he is naked.

Cast[edit]

Cast notes

Release[edit]

I’m All Right Jack opened at the Leicester Square Theatre in London on 13 August 1959.[6]

Reception[edit]

The film was a big hit, being the most popular film in Britain for the year ended 31 October 1959.[7][8] It was reportedly the second most profitable British movie that year after Carry On Nurse[9] and helped turn British Lion profitable for the year after two years of losses.[10]

As well as Sellers' BAFTA, it also won the BAFTA Award for Best British Screenplay.[11]

Bosley Crowther in The New York Times called it "the brightest, liveliest comedy seen this year."[12]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 88% based on reviews from 8 critics.[13]

See also[edit]

  • English-language accents in film – Cockney
  • Larsen, Darl. A Book about the Film Monty Python's Life of Brian. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. ISBN 978-1538103654. The PFJ/Peoples' Front for Judea is modelled on Shop Steward Kite's committee.
  • BFI Top 100 British films

References[edit]

  1. ^ "I'm All Right Jack (1959)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  2. ^ "1960 Film British Actor". bafta.org.
  3. ^ "I'm All Right Jack". aveleyman.com.
  4. ^ "BFI Screenonline: I'm All Right Jack (1959)". screenonline.org.uk.
  5. ^ Collins English Dictionary, I'm all right, Jack
  6. ^ Walker, Alex (14 August 1959). "Jack and Company". Birmingham Daily Post. p. 4.
  7. ^ Our own Reporter (11 December 1959). "FOUR BRITISH FILMS IN 'TOP 6': BOULTING COMEDY HEADS BOX OFFICE LIST". The Guardian. p. 4.
  8. ^ Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32 no. 3. p. 259.
  9. ^ MacGregor, Jock (6 January 1960). "London Observations". Motion Picture Exhibitor. p. 25 – via Archive.org.
  10. ^ "'Jack' The Reaper". Variety. 10 August 1960. p. 3. Retrieved 8 November 2020 – via Archive.org.
  11. ^ "Film in 1960 - BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org.
  12. ^ Crowther, Bosley (26 April 1960). "Screen: British Satire:Peter Sellers Stars in 'I'm All Right, Jack'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2018 – via Archive.org.
  13. ^ "I'm All Right Jack (1960)". Rotten Tomatoes.

External links[edit]