HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Days of the Bagnold Summer
Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975, The
Apartment 1BR
1776
Parasite
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  How I Won The War Whose Side Are You On?
Year: 1967
Director: Richard Lester
Stars: Michael Crawford, John Lennon, Roy Kinnear, Lee Montague, Jack MacGowran, Michael Hordern, Jack Hedley, Karl Michael Vogler, Ronald Lacey, James Cossins, Ewan Hooper, Alexander Knox, Robert Hardy, Sheila Hancock, Charles Dyer
Genre: Comedy, War, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: At the end of World War II, by the Rhine, Lieutenant Ernest Goodbody (Michael Crawford) stages an abortive attempt to cross the river with his men, but ends up captured by the Germans. After being kicked around by the Nazi soldiers, he strikes up a friendship with one of the German commanding officers (Karl Michael Vogler), who he begins to tell the tales of his combat experiences to. He had a more privileged background that many of the recruits, and unlike them felt he could be very useful in the war, but the swelling ranks of British army are unprepared for the conflict - not just in terms of equipment, but in attitude as well.

This subversive war satire (and war movie send-up) was scripted by Charles Wood from the novel by Patrick Ryan, and unsteadily set out to put forward the view that soldiers, not only of the Second World War, but of any war (this was released at the time of the Vietnam conflict), were taken advantage of by their country's leaders and their lives thrown away. It's probably best known today for being the only film that John Lennon starred in without the Beatles, but in truth, if you're expecting his second billing to indicate a co-starring role, then be prepared to see him rather lost, throwing away sardonic comments, in the ensemble supporting cast - it's the hard-working Crawford who appears in almost every scene.

Goodbody is put in charge of a regiment, the "Musketeers", and sent to North Africa. Instead of being given a combat mission, they are instructed to head behind enemy lines and find an oasis where they can build a cricket field - they bring along a cumbersome roller to assist. Goodbody's men are preoccupied with personal problems, all caused by the war: Clapper (Roy Kinnear) is worried about his wife sleeping around now that he is not there, as she keeps writing to him to tell him so, Juniper (Jack MacGowran) is being driven barmy so that he appears as a clown, complete with costume, and Drogue (James Cossins) is waiting for the point at which he dies, which he has prior knowledge of.

This is no conventional war movie, it's self-consciously wacky and determinedly disillusioned about heroics, two attitudes which make for a cluttered result. Director Richard Lester is not afraid to add slapstick - Crawford ends up stuck headfirst up to his middle in the sand - and Wood's lines include many wry observations and non sequiturs, which has the effect of seeming like many conversations on the same subject all mixed up together. Constantly threatening to collapse into confusion, the film isn't all that funny either, as its abrasiveness and awkwardness dulls the humour and dilutes the sympathy for the more hapless soldiers, who need all the sympathy they can get in their situation.

The higher echelons of the army are represented by Colonel Grapple (Michael Hordern), who sums them up by being aloof, uncaring of the danger his men are in, and possibly insane with power. Goodbody is making his way up the ranks, and his troops all secretly want to kill him, forcing themselves not to at times. When the soldiers finally succumb to the inevitable, i.e. getting killed, they return to be represented as ghostly, silent figures in different colours corresponding to battles - green, pink, orange, blue - but Goodbody, the man whose inept decisions has put them in that position, remains not only unharmed, but still in charge. How I Won The War believes that even in a just war, the soldiers are exploited and prey to the whims of their superiors, and if they don't end up dead, then they're certainly not enjoying many benefits, either, no matter that they win. A contentious opinion, and not one which is smoothly conveyed by this jumbled film because they don't offer a convincing alternative. Music by Ken Thorne.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 9626 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Richard Lester  (1932 - )

American director, from television, in Britain whose initially zany style could give way to genuine suspense and emotion. After making his film debut with short The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, which featured Goons Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, he went on to throwaway projects like It's Trad, Dad and Mouse on the Moon. His next, however, was a smash hit all over the world: A Hard Day's Night, not least because it had The Beatles as stars.

Lester was at his most successful in the sixties and early seventies, with notable movies like The Knack, Beatles follow up Help!, stage adaptation A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, satire How I Won the War, romance Petulia, weird comedy The Bed Sitting Room, The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers and very British disaster movie Juggernaut.

Efforts like Royal Flash, Robin and Marian, gay bathhouse comedy The Ritz and Cuba made less impact, but in the eighties Lester was called in to salvage the Superman series after Richard Donner walked off Superman II; Lester also directed Superman III. Finders Keepers was a flop comedy, and Return of the Musketeers had a tragic development when one of his regular cast, Roy Kinnear, died while filming. Lester then decided to give up directing, with Paul McCartney concert Get Back his last film.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: