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The Rakes Progress (1945) Rex Harrison, Margaret Johnson, Rex Harrison

Rex Harrison - Jean Kent - Lili Palmer- Godfrey Tearl - Guy Middleton. Directed by Sydney Giliat

Watched Friday 16th December, 2016

To follow on from last Fridays' 'The Beggars' Opera' is 'The Rakes' Progress.' A modern-day updating of the 18th Century anti-hero of the satirical Hogarth prints.

Rex Harrison plays Vivian Kenway, a self-centred and amoral playboy whose thrill seeking gets him into increasingly awkward scrapes that he wrangles out of through cadging favours from his family and friends.

The opening scenes are through the lens of a British tank in France. Vivian is in the lead tank about to traverse a bridge that may, or may not, be mined by the retreating Germans. Half way across there is an explosion and the film moves into flash back to 1918. It is the celebrations of Armistice Night and the boy Vivian is found wandering amongst the celebrating crowds by two veteran soldiers. One takes off his own cap badge of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and gives it to the boy to who is told to keep it keep it in future days as a memento.

Now grown up and studying at Oxford, through a spectacular climbing prank, he gets sent down but not before he steals the girlfriend, Jill Duncan (Jean Kent), of his fellow student Sandy Jones (Griffith Jones). His father, MP Sir Robert Kenway (Godrey Tearle), finds him a job overseas in a coffee plantation where he adopts the biological research of company scientist Bromhead (Brefni O'Rorke) to develop a strategy for increasing coffee production. He does not take the advice of Burgess (John Salew) who has a communist perspective on company business that Vivian does not follow. Taking his plans to the managing director, he is told higher yields are not desired as the price would fall. Bromhead is let go, and Vivian gets thoroughly smashed before attending the board meeting and drunkenly tells them all what they can do.


Rex Harrison, Lili Palmer 'The Rakes Progress' (1945) Rex Harrison, Lili Palmer

It is an original 16mm print with fine contrast and density.


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