After a decade on radio, Peter Sellers set out on the road to international stardom in 1959's I'm All Right Jack. Sellers played both Sir John Kennaway and, unforgettably, the trade union leader Fred Kite (he had taken mul... more »tiple roles in The Mouse That Roared and would do so again in Dr. Strangelove). The result is laugh-out-loud comedy with a satiric edge, lampooning the then-burning issue of industrial relations. Bertram Tracepurcel (Dennis Price) plans to make a fortune from a missile contract, a scheme that involves manipulating his innocent nephew Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael) into acting as the catalyst in an escalating labor dispute, from which the socialist Mr. Kite is only too keen to make capital. Management and labor both have their self-serving hypocrisy dissected in this ingenious comedy, which is actually a sequel to the military comedy Private's Progress (1956), but stands independent of the earlier film. Both films were made by the brothers John and Roy Boulting, directors and producers of such British classics as Brighton Rock (1947), Seven Days to Noon (1950), Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (1959), and Heavens Above (1963). The superb cast of I'm All Right Jack also features Richard Attenborough, John Le Mesurier, Margaret Rutherford, and Terry-Thomas. --Gary S. Dalkin« less
"I have already reviewed a couple of fine 50s comedies--one British ( The Man in the White Suit ) and one American ( The Solid Gold Cadillac )--where I felt that the film's theme or message was just as relevant today. You can certainly add the Boulting Brothers' brilliant comedy, "I'm All Right Jack ", to this list. Are industrial relations any less problematic today, especially if owners are greedy, managers elitist and incompetent, and unionized employees unreasonable ? It is a rhetorical question !In producing "I'm All Right Jack", the Boultings obviously took great pains to be objective--both sides, management and labour, are only interested in themselves, with a mutual lack of respect and trust. I seem to recall that, when the film was first released in Britain, the union movement loved the way that ownership/management was portrayed, but objected very much to how the British worker was represented--of course, "upper class" owners had a reverse viewpoint.While this terrific satire has a strong message, it is also a very entertaining film, with a perfect cast. As stubborn, dogmatic Fred Kite, the union leader, Peter Sellers is marvellous, but it is a mistake to call this a Peter Sellers' movie. Actually, Ian Carmichael gets top billing as Stanley Windrush, the ultimate "upper class twit"--not the only time that he would play this kind of role ( remember "School for Scoundrels"? ). Carmichael is wonderful as the well-meaning, but very naive young man, who causes all the "trouble". Terry-Thomas is the Personnel Director--obsequious to the owners, disdainful of the workers--oozing insincere charm all over the place. Ownership is represented by Dennis Price ( smug, patrician and totally crooked ) and Richard Attenborough ( a slimy, oily weasel--and--you guessed it--totally crooked ! ). John Le Mesurier registers as the "efficiency expert", spying on the workers. Irene Handl is a scene-stealer as Kite's wife, exasperated with her husband's union-spouting nonsense, wondering if he ever does any real work. Blonde and bosomy Liz Fraser is Kite's daughter, grabbing on to Windrush as her ticket away from a boring life and preening in front of the cameras. Ms. Fraser's performance is another gem. Character actors like Victor Maddern, Sam Kydd, Cardew Robinson and David Lodge pop up here and there to enliven things even more. Finally, let us not forget Margaret Rutherford--she only has a few scenes--but when Ms. Rutherford is on the screen, she owns it."I'm All Right Jack" remains a highly-respected landmark film in the history of British cinema--with a superb script and cast, this DVD belongs in the collection of anyone who likes to think and laugh at the same time.As usual, Anchor Bay gives us a good quality picture--black and white, of course. There is also a trailer and a bio of Peter Sellers( again, while he is terrific, I do not consider this to be just a Sellers vehicle ).Thanks, Anchor Bay--hey--how about a "Terry-Thomas Collection " ? You could start with "Make Mine Mink" !"
A lot more than all right
Peter Reeve | Thousand Oaks, CA USA | 03/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the greatest, and most willfully misunderstood, movie comedies ever. Although still lauded in Britain as a searing indictment of trade unionism, its greatness lies in its even-handed treatment of unions and bosses alike. Sellers's portrayal of the union leader Fred Kite was so brilliant that it tended to overshadow the performance of Dennis Price as the crooked boss, and Ian Carmichael's poor, honest scapegoat caught in the middle. But the entire cast is great. Talking of which, was there ever such a wealth of comedy acting talent as in 50s and 60s British cinema?
The title comes from a saying common at the time: "F*** you Jack, I'm all right!" which had Bowdlerized variants like "Up yours, Jack..." and "Blow you Jack..." and which reflected a self-interestedness that no longer requires a catchphrase because it is now so taken for granted. It particularly applied to the well-known phenomenon of the trade union member being promoted to management level and suddenly abandoning his working-class loyalties. As another popular phrase had it: "The working class can kiss my ***, I've got the foreman's job at last."
This movie is a sequel to "Privates Progress", which is also worth seeing, but each movie is standalone. Comedy has a way of getting beneath the skin more effectively than drama. These two movies will tell you more about wartime and post-war British society than any documentary could do. And with plenty of laughs along the way. "
Hilarious satire directed at labor and management
Bomojaz | South Central PA, USA | 03/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
A wonderful satirical kick in the pants to labor unions and money-grabbing management alike. Two company heads scheme with a foreign diplomat to get the workers at one factory to go on strike so a contract will go to the other company - at a higher rate. Ian Carmichael, a daft upper-class innocent, is unwittingly brought in to bring the strike about. Carmichael's factory strike soon spreads across the whole country after he reveals to the press what's going on, and Britain is soon paralyzed. Peter Sellers plays the union head, with his Hitler mustache and empty talk of communism: the slap at the once-sacred cow of labor (the unions) is right on target. But labor is not the only target of the satire here: management is also laid low in its willingness to rob the country for its own profits. Brilliantly funny all around. Definitely worth a watch."
I can't imagine...
philrob | New Zealand | 08/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...I'm the only one who noticed that, besides the satire about managements, unions, and their relations, there is also one, although briefer nonetheless most interesting, about 'Justice', who decides that if one is guilty of honesty, it can only happen by reason of insanity, and, therefore must be committed. Leaving management going on with their cheating schemes, workers thinking that getting their paycheck is working hard enough, and unions' leaders going on encouraging sabotage, following USSR directions, absolutely blind to the fact that, if doing one tenth of the same stuff in USSR, they would have been -at best- sent to the siberian salt mines used as reeducation camps."
It's all "blow you, I'm allright, Jack"!
philrob | 02/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow, you couldn't say that in an American film of this era, and there sure wouldn't be any naked women running about! Aside from the refreshing freedom, this is of course a classic fatalistic satire of post-war England, with absolutely priceless slapstick comedy thrown in (the tour of the candy factory stands up there with anything in the genre). It deserves a wider audience, I had only seen a censored version of it once on TV, and it completely cutout the penultimate line above!"