Directed by Sidney Gilliat, 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 leading up to World War 2.
Armistice day 1918 and a young Vivian Kenway is befriended by soldiers returning from France. They tell him it's the fighters like themselves that make the difference in life and give him a lucky pin to remember them by. And remember them he does. Not for young Vivian is it to be a life of struggle. 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, which eventually leads to the death of his father.
The outbreak of World War 2 offers Vivian the chance of ultimate salvation and the opportunity to finally earn the respect and admiration of his peers