Blu-ray Review: I’m All Right Jack


The UK’s highest grossing film of 1959 arrives on Blu-ray.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s twin brothers, John and Roy Boulting were one of the most consistently successful directing-producing partnerships in the British film industry.

The pair founded Charter Productions in 1937. After making several documentaries Roy directed and John produced the feature-length thrillers The Landlady (1938), Consider your Verdict (1938), Inquest (1939) and Trunk Crime(1939).

During World War Two the brothers were given leave from service to make the anti-isolationist film Thunder Rock.

Politically active, John was an Ambulance driver for the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. Roy shared his brother’s left-leaning tendencies.

Their idealism and social engagement was threaded into a succession of celebrated films, most notably Brighton Rock, that reflected post-war pessimism.

Today the pair are best remembered for a series of satires that poured scorn on the British establishment. Private’s Progress, Lucky Jim, I’m All Right Jack, Carlton-Browne of the FO, and Heaven’s Above! provide a snapshot of 1950s culture and are filled with biting swipes at institutions.

Perhaps the Boulting Brother’s most significant post-war comedy, I’m All Right Jack takes aim at industrial relations, consumerism, and television.

Winner of BAFTA’s for Best British Screenplay and Best British Actor (Peter Sellers), the film struck a chord with a nation struggling to reconcile itself to new forms of manufacturing, emerging marketplaces, and union practices.

Adapted from a short story by Alan Hackney, I’m All Right Jack featured a stellar cast of comedic actors including Peter Sellers, Ian Carmichael, Terry Thomas, Margaret Rutherford Irene Handl, and John Le Mesurier.

Reportedly, the Queen arranged a private screening for Prime Minister Harold Wilson when he visited Balmoral seeking permission to dissolve parliament and call a general election.

Sequel to the 1956 satire A Private’s Progress. Ian Carmichael plays Stanley Windrush, an inept over-educated and under-experienced university graduate unable to find lasting employment. After a succession of interviews at factories prove fruitless, his uncle offers a job at a missile factory with the vague promise of career advancement.

An unwitting patsy, Windrush does not suspect he has been placed in the factory to upset relations between management and the unions. A small-scale dispute carefully orchestrated by the company’s directors to pad their pockets with tax-free cash when a contract is reassigned becomes a national strike. With the country falling to pieces the press is eager to tell Stanley’s story.

Strikes had been outlawed during World War Two and in the brave new world of an increasingly technologised workplace, the unions were increasingly militant. Keen to flex their collective muscle and resist attempts at getting employees to increase their workload without extra payments the threat of strike action was ever present in the 1950s.

Central to the film’s success is Peter Sellers portrayal of the union leader Fred Kite. A cross between Hitler and Charlie Chaplin, the Stalinist becomes a tragic figure when his unwillingness to compromise causes his wife and daughter to leave the family home. Sellers’ comic timing is offset with an ability to convey pathos with slight gestures.

Making a very welcome debut on Blu-ray, this rip-roaring comedy has not lost its bite. A laugh out loud classic.

I’m All Right Jack is available to order from Amazon.