5.8/10
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30 user 22 critic

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.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lt. Goodbody
...
Gripweed
...
Clapper
Lee Montague ...
...
...
Grapple
...
Melancholy Musketeer
Karl Michael Vogler ...
Odlebog
...
Spool
...
Drogue
...
Dooley
...
American General
...
British General
...
Mrs. Clapper's Friend
...
Happy-Trousered Man
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

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)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the first time John Lennon wore his soon-to-be-trademark granny glasses in public. See more »

Quotes

Gripweed: I fought for three reasons. I can't remember what they were. The first reason gets you in, and the reason when you are in is staying alive. I won't know the reason they find afterwards, but it will be a very good one for why it was fought. I'm sure I'll be glad.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The South Bank Show: The Making of Sgt. Pepper (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Theme from 'Lawrence of Arabia'
(uncredited)
Music by Maurice Jarre
Heard as a theme in the desert scenes
See more »

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User Reviews

An officer and a gentle idiot
11 May 2007 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

War is the noblest of games, specially for the Queen's musketeers. Lt. Ernest Goodbody with his ready learned and endless banalities about duty, heroism and just about anything that comes to his mind is in his clumsy foolishness in a league of his own.

Jokes come in such rapid fire that this war comedy has to be viewed several times in order to all of them be taken fully in. The pace of cutting, scenes and clever dialog is really fast. Dick Lester directs the story from mad screwball comedy to short moments of even madder reality -combat, wounding, deaths- and back again without losing any of the films evident power. The continuous use of different film techniques may strike some as tiring or pretentious. I liked the rich variation, because it just somehow fits so well and Lester is never in danger of loosing the scarlet thread of irony. Some of the best moments are sprung by satiric takes on war movies and documentaries. A mission for the crew involves them to build a cricket field in the desert to impress their officers. So, under burning sun the convoy duly drags along a field roller across the dunes while the soundtrack is blaring unmistakeably recognizable music from 'Lawrence of Arabia'. Some of the training sequences brought to mind bits from Laurel and Hardy comedies.

At times situations begin to reach a point of surrealism. The soldiers already fallen in battle follow along the crew as ghosts of different colors. The oldest and most experienced man in the crew starts to dress and act like a circus clown. The changes and surprises just keep coming.

Watching the scene where John Lennon as soldier Gripweed gets killed in a German field has now an enormous effect for reasons easy to understand. As he sits there bleeding, faces the camera and says something like "You know this would happen", it really makes an extra strong comment on violence now. Stronger than the writer, director or any other ever had in mind. For a thirty years old black comedy this movie still has an awful lot to say.


5 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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