I'm All Right Jack (1959)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Liz Fraser, Ian Carmichael and Irene Handl in I'm All Right Jack (1959)

It's Not Personal, It's Only Business

Having returned from war and graduated from University, naive upper class Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael) has a desire to enter the business world but finds that getting a job is not as easy as he thought. Whilst living with his aristocratic Aunt Dolly (Margaret Rutherford), his Uncle Bertram Tracepurcel (Dennis Price) and business associate Sidney De Vere Cox (Richard Attenborough) offer him a job at Bertram's company starting in the warehouse with the possibility to work his way up. What Stanley doesn't know is that they are using him as a patsy to cause unrest with the workers and the Unions which he immediately does bringing him into a confrontation with Union rep Fred Kite (Peter Sellers) who decides to use him as a pawn in their constant fight for more power.

Watching "I'm All Right Jack" now makes me think that it would make a great second movie in a double bill with "The Man in the White Suit" because they both focus on aspects of British business. But in "I'm All Right Jack" the focus is on satirizing what happens on the shop floor as we meet workers who do the minimum whilst trade unions constantly threaten to call the work force out on strike in order to protect them from having to doing more. It is amusing when Stanley discovers that whilst they could move more than one box at a time with a forklift it wouldn't do them any favours if they did. At the same time we also have shady businessmen up to no good in order to gain contracts for more money with trade unions threatening to scupper their plans thanks to Stanley. In fact whilst the centre of the story is the naive Stanley being used the fun is less to do with his naivety but the satirizing of the work place, although scenes involving the bashful Stanley at a naturist camp are both surprising and hysterical.

Richard Attenborough in I'm All Right Jack (1959)

But whilst "I'm All Right Jack" will definitely make you laugh, at times the storyline suffers as scenes revolving around situational humour end up dominating. It almost feels as if the writers found that satirizing the British workplace and trade unions ripe for so much humour that they struggled to reign in how much they used. And on that slight negative I might as well add that "I'm All Right Jack" is now unsurprisingly dated when in comes to certain racial elements with references to some nationalities not acceptable now which may shock some people even though that was how it was back in the 50s when this was made.

The thing about "I'm All Right Jack" is that watching it now there is another side to the entertainment and that is the cast which features so many well known faces from British cinema and TV. We have the main cast which really is Ian Carmichael and Peter Sellers both doing good jobs of delivering humour but they have such a great supporting cast which includes Richard Attenborough, Liz Fraser, Terry Thomas, Margaret Rutherford and Irene Handl. Yet you then get those actors you suddenly spot in minor parts such as Terry Scott, Esma Cannon, Donal Donnelly and John Le Mesurier. So in the end there is as much entertainment from having this strong British cast than from the actual movie.

What this all boils down to is that "I'm All Right Jack" is still a fun look at Industrial Britain where Unions threatened strikes and the workforce did as little as possible. It is dated but it will still make you smile especially with such a wonderful cast.


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