THE RAKE’S PROGRESS DVD
No of discs: 1. Black & White. Year: 1945. Comedy-Drama.
Running Time: approx 1 hour and 50 mins.
Director: Sidney Gilliat.
Cast: Rex Harrison, Lilli Palmer, Godfrey Tearle, Griffith, Margaret Johnston, Guy Middleton, Jean Kent, Patricia Laffan and Marie Lohr.
The Topham family live a blissfully happy life together in the lovely market town of Dunmow in deepest Essex. Recently married young couple Basil and Julie Topham, played by David Tomlinson and Petula Clark, are waiting for their house to be finished by local builders. Until then, they are forced to live with Basil’s parents and eccentric grandfather. Basil and Julie have entered the ancient annual ‘Dummow Flitch Trials’, in which a married couple can win a side of bacon if, at the end of one year, they have ‘not wisht themselves unmarried again’. However, the Topham’s happy household, and then the entire village, is thrown into chaos when an attractive Hungarian housemaid arrives, played by Sonja Ziemann.
The Rakes Progress is the story of Vivian Kenway, (Rex Harrison), the quintessential upper class cad who lives an unfulfilled life of irresponsible privilege in the years before WWII. Once he has been sent down from Oxford for a schoolboy prank his existence turns into a life of upper class decadence. Sent to work in South America, he soon rebels against routine of life on the coffee plantation. He tries his hand at being a racing driver before his life becomes one of philandering and drunkenness. The outbreak of WWII offers Vivian the chance of salvation and the opportunity to finally earn the respect and admiration of his peers. Filled with wit and style, the story does not treat its subject with sympathy, yet remains sensitive and touching.