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How I Won the War (1967)

Approved | | Comedy, War | 23 October 1967 (USA)
An inept British WWII commander leads his troops to a series of misadventures in North Africa and Europe.



(novel), (screenplay)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. Goodbody
Lee Montague ...
Melancholy Musketeer
Karl Michael Vogler ...
James Cossins ...
American General
British General
Mrs. Clapper's Friend
Happy-Trousered Man


This film features former Beatle John Lennon and Roy Kinnear as ill-fated enlisted men in under the inept command of Lieutenant Earnest Goodbody. The story unwinds mostly in flashbacks of Lieutenant Goodbody who has lower-class beginnings and education which make him a poor officer who commands one of the worst units of the army. Written by Jenny Evans <J.Evans@uts.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"What we want is more humane killers!" See more »


Comedy | War


Approved | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

23 October 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cómo gané la guerra  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The intended concept of the film was that archival black and white footage of each battle was to be tinted specific colors. The soldiers who died in that battle continue to accompany the unit silently with their uniforms now the color of the battle they died in. However, when the final answer print was sent from the principal lab in England to the labs in Los Angeles subcontracted out to make the release prints, the LA labs assumed that the tinted footage was a mistake, and graded it back to black and white without notifying anyone until the whole batch was struck. The version of the film shown on "Retroplex" from Starz has the battle scenes tinted different colors and the soldiers who die in a battle become that color. See more »


Clapper: What we want is more humane killers!
See more »


Spoofs The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) See more »


How I Won The War
Written by Ken Thorne
Performed by John Lennon (as Musketeer Gripweed and The Third Troop)
See more »

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User Reviews

I Walked Out. Forty Years Later I Walked Out Again.
14 August 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Simply and absolutely one of the most boring and self-important films ever made. When it came out in 1967, director Richard Lester made no secret of his conviction that he'd produced the greatest antiwar statement since 1930's All Quiet on the Western Front. In reality, it's one of the worst films of any kind since 1930.

Here's Lester's antiwar strategy. Take a small number of British soldiers in a wear against Hitler and Nazism and show them to be a bunch of fools, cowards, and lunatics. Show that their mission - to build a cricket-pitch in enemy territory - is absurd. Show John Lennon's idiot minor character bloodily killed.

That's it. Doesn't it make you hate war? Doesn't it prove that soldiers are suckers? Doesn't it make you want to protest Vietnam? Well, maybe all Richard Lester really wanted to do was make an amusing service comedy. Maybe his self-promoting comments were just trying to cash in on the antiwar feelings of the day.

In that case he still failed. There are more laughs in five minutes of "Sgt. Bilko" than in this entire movie.

I remember vividly being unable to stay awake watching this turkey in the theater forty years ago. I walked out, even though I'd paid good money. (Only two other movies in my entire life have had such a sleep-inducing effect on me, and "How I Won the War" may well be the worst of three.) A few years back somebody gave me the video. With access to coffee I managed to stay awake a just little longer. When I snapped awake I shut the thing off.

Way back in 1967 I actually read Patrick Ryan's comic novel that was the basis of this film. It was funny in an aimless kind of way.

This movie is unfunny in each and every way.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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