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Oh! What a Lovely War
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Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.2/10   1,759 votes »
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Down 40% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers:
Charles Chilton (play)
Len Deighton (screenplay)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Oh! What a Lovely War on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 October 1969 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
The ever popular war game with songs battles & a few jokes See more »
Plot:
A movie about the First World War based on a stage musical of the same name, portraying the "Game of... See more » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Won Golden Globe. Another 10 wins & 5 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
"Old Soldiers Never Die - The Young Ones Wish They Would!" See more (60 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
Wendy Allnutt ... Flo Smith
Colin Farrell ... Harry Smith
Malcolm McFee ... Freddie Smith
John Rae ... Grandpa Smith

Corin Redgrave ... Bertie Smith

Maurice Roëves ... George Smith
Paul Shelley ... Jack Smith
Kim Smith ... Dickie Smith
Angela Thorne ... Betty Smith
Mary Wimbush ... Mary Smith
Vincent Ball ... Australian Soldier
Pia Colombo ... Estaminet Singer
Paul Daneman ... Czar Nicholas II
Isabel Dean ... Sir John French's Lady
Christian Doermer ... Fritz
Robert Flemyng ... Staff Officer in Gassed Trench
Meriel Forbes ... Lady Grey

Ian Holm ... President Poincare
David Lodge ... Recruiting Sergeant
Joe Melia ... The Photographer
Guy Middleton ... Gen. Sir William Robertson

Juliet Mills ... Nurse
Nanette Newman ... Nurse
Cecil Parker ... Sir John
Natasha Parry ... Sir William Robertson's Lady
Gerald Sim ... Chaplain
Thorley Walters ... Staff Officer in Ballroom
Anthony Ainley ... 3rd Aide

Penelope Allen ... Solo Chorus Girl
Maurice Arthur ... Soldier Singer
Freddie Ascott ... 'Whizzbang' Soldier

Michael Bates ... Drunk Lance Corporal
Fanny Carby ... Mill Girl
Cecilia Darby ... Sir Henry Wilson's Lady
Geoffrey Davies ... Aide

Edward Fox ... Aide
George Ghent ... Heckler
Peter Gilmore ... Pvt. Burgess
Ben Howard ... Pvt. Garbett
Norman Jones ... Scottish Soldier
Paddy Joyce ... Irish Soldier
Angus Lennie ... Scottish Soldier
Harry Locke ... Heckler
Clifford Mollison ... Heckler
Derek Newark ... Shooting Gallery Proprietor

John Owens ... Seamus Moore
Ron Pember ... Corporal at Station
Dorothy Reynolds ... Heckler
Norman Shelley ... Staff Officer in Ballroom
Marianne Stone ... Mill Girl
John Trigger ... Officer at Station
Kathleen Wileman ... Emma Smith at Age 4

Dirk Bogarde ... Stephen
Phyllis Calvert ... Lady Haig

Jean-Pierre Cassel ... French Colonel
John Clements ... Gen. von Moltke

John Gielgud ... Count Leopold Von Berchtold

Jack Hawkins ... Emperor Franz Josef

Kenneth More ... Kaiser Wilhelm II

Laurence Olivier ... Field Marshal Sir John French

Michael Redgrave ... Gen. Sir Henry Wilson

Vanessa Redgrave ... Sylvia Pankhurst

Ralph Richardson ... Sir Edward Grey

Maggie Smith ... Music Hall Star

Susannah York ... Eleanor

John Mills ... Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Pamela Abbott ... Czarina (uncredited)
Charlotte Attenborough ... Emma Smith Age 8 (uncredited)
Annie Bee ... Girl Friend in 'Goodbyee') (uncredited)
Norman Bird ... Training Sergeant (uncredited)
Joanne Brown ... Singer (uncredited)
Christopher Cabot ... Soldier in Shell Hole (uncredited)
Jeremy Child ... Wealthy Young Man (uncredited)
Frank Coda ... Soldier in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Ambrose Coghill ... His Father (uncredited)
Stella Courtney ... Poincaré's Lady (uncredited)
Sheila Cox ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Elizabeth Craven ... Kaiserin (uncredited)
Richard Davies ... Sergeant in Burial Party (uncredited)
John Dunhill ... Irish Soldier (uncredited)
Ray Edwards ... 3rd Staff Officer in Ballroom (uncredited)
Charles Farrell ... Policeman (uncredited)
Hermione Farthingale ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Frank Forsyth ... Woodrow Wilson (uncredited)
Joyce Franklin ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)
John Gabriel ... Nikolai Lenin (uncredited)
Zeph Gladstone ... Sir John's Chauffeuse (uncredited)
Ruth Gower ... Von Moltke's Lady (uncredited)
Kim Grant ... Soldier in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Carole Gray ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Paul Hansard ... German Officer (uncredited)
Kathleen Helme ... Berchtold's Lady (uncredited)
Richard Howard ... Young Soldier at Mons (uncredited)
John Hussey ... Soldier on Balcony (uncredited)
Dinny Jones ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Lind Joyce ... Scoreboard Girl (uncredited)
Dolores Judson ... Haig's Girlfriend (uncredited)
Ruth Kettlewell ... Duchess Sophie (uncredited)
Stanley Lebor ... Soldier in Gassed Trench (uncredited)
Delia Linden ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Richard Loring ... Soldier in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Tom Marshall ... Soldier in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Stanley McGeagh ... Soldier in Gassed Trench (uncredited)
Isabelle Metcalfe ... Girl Friend in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Jenny Morgan ... Girl Friend in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Anthony Morton ... Italian Military Attaché (uncredited)
Christine Noonan ... Mill Girl (uncredited)
Wensley Pithey ... Archduke Franz Ferdinand (uncredited)
Steve Plytas ... Turkish Military Attaché (uncredited)
Andrew Robertson ... 2nd Scottish Soldier (uncredited)
Sue Robinson ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)
David Scheuer ... French Soldier (uncredited)

Jane Seymour ... Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Valerie Smith ... Girl Friend in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Pippa Steel ... Scoreboard Girl (uncredited)
P.G. Stephens ... Irish Soldier (uncredited)
Tony Thawnton ... Officer on Telephone (uncredited)
Christian Thorogood ... Irish Soldier (uncredited)
Brian Tipping ... 4th Scottish Soldier (uncredited)
Bette Vivian ... Heckler (uncredited)
Tony Vogel ... German Soldier (uncredited)
Arthur White ... Sergeant in Dugout (uncredited)
Michael Wolf ... German Officer (uncredited)
John Woodnutt ... British Officer (uncredited)
Julia Wright ... Haig's Secretary (uncredited)
Mary Yeomans ... Scoreboard Girl (uncredited)

Directed by
Richard Attenborough 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Charles Chilton  play
Len Deighton  screenplay
Joan Littlewood  musical play

Produced by
Richard Attenborough .... producer
Brian Duffy .... producer
Len Deighton .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Alfred Ralston 
 
Cinematography by
Gerry Turpin 
 
Film Editing by
Kevin Connor 
 
Casting by
Miriam Brickman 
 
Production Design by
Donald M. Ashton 
 
Art Direction by
Harry White 
 
Set Decoration by
Peter James 
 
Costume Design by
Anthony Mendleson 
 
Makeup Department
Stuart Freeborn .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
John Comfort .... production manager
Paul Hitchcock .... executive in charge of production
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Nicolas Hippisley-Coxe .... second second assistant director
Claude Watson .... assistant director
 
Art Department
Tim Hutchinson .... draughtsman
Ron Baker .... property buyer (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Don Challis .... sound
Gerry Humphreys .... sound re-recording mixer
Simon Kaye .... sound recordist
Tom Buchanan .... boom operator (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Ron Ballanger .... special effects
Brian Gamby .... special effects
Fred Heather .... special effects
Garth Inns .... special effects
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Ronnie Taylor .... camera operator (as Ron Taylor)
 
Editorial Department
Peter Hollywood .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Alfred Ralston .... conductor
Alfred Ralston .... music arranger
 
Other crew
Douglas Campbell .... military advisor (as Maj. Gen. Douglas Campbell)
Eleanor Fazan .... choreographer
Pam Rose .... stand-in/double
Ann Skinner .... continuity
Ron Bareham .... assistant accounting (uncredited)
 

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
144 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Australia:G | Finland:K-8 | Netherlands:14 (1970) | Sweden:11 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:PG (video rating) | USA:G

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Tom Courtenay and Alan Bates were both offered key cameos.See more »
Goofs:
Crew or equipment visible: When Sir John's car drives off after his conversation with Harry, a modern car can be seen reflected in the window.See more »
Quotes:
Sir Edward Grey:[as war breaks out] The lamps are going out all over Europe, we will not see them lit again in our lifetime.See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Richard Attenborough: A Life (2014) (TV)See more »
Soundtrack:
Mademoiselle from ArmentieresSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
40 out of 46 people found the following review useful.
"Old Soldiers Never Die - The Young Ones Wish They Would!", 30 January 1999
Author: Michael Coy (michael.coy@virgin.net) from London, England

Richard Attenborough's directorial debut translates Joan Plowright's theatre concept onto celluloid. "Oh What A Lovely War" tells the story of World War One through the popular songs of the time, some of them sarcastically re-worded by the soldiers at the Front. Made in 1969, the film rides the wave of contemporary 'make love not war' sentiment, and uses humour and avant-garde zaniness to avoid seeming portentous. Brighton Pier represents the First World War, with the British public entering at the turnstiles, and General Haig selling tickets. The Smith family stands for the nation, and the film follows several young Smith men through their experiences in the trenches, most notably Freddy (Malcolm McFee), Harry (Colin Farrell) and George (Maurice Roeves).

The opening sequence, set in a wrought-iron Nowhere, tries to explain the diplomatic chicanery which (allegedly) caused the Great War. This passage is dull, unnatural, garbled and much too long. It does not harmonise with the rest of the story, and the film would have been better without it. Of the cavalcade of ageing English thespians which populates this sequence, only Jack Hawkins as the profoundly melancholic Austrian emperor is at all memorable.

1914 was the season of optimism, shown here by the cheerful seaside scene and the first Battle of Mons, both flooded in pleasant sunshine. When the casulaties start to mount, a shocked theatre audience is rallied by a rousing rendition of "Are We Downhearted? No!", a song which expresses something deep in the English psyche: "While we have Jack upon the sea/And Tommy on the land/We needn't fret".

The government's cynical drive to recruit a volunteer army by 'milking' the simple patriotism of the people is superbly satirised in the 'Roedean' section. Pretty girls onstage sing "We Don't Want To Lose You, But We Think You Ought To Go", and once the young men in the audience are suitably softened up, Maggie Smith lures them into taking the King's Shilling by enticing them sexually.

Class divisions are emphasised. Wounded men from the lower ranks have to wait for treatment, but officers have taxis laid on to take them to hospital. The War forces an aristocrat to converse with one of his retainers, but the conversation is hollow and awkward, as if the men speak different languages. The working-class men in the trenches fraternise with their German 'brothers', and a staff officer in the comfort and safety of England punishes them for their inappropriate behaviour. The pacifist who addresses the workers falls foul of their instinctive patriotism, and doesn't help herself by referring to her audience as "You misguided masses".

The film has many delicious ironic touches. A wounded man arrives back in England, relieved to be out of the hell of war, and is told by a nurse, "Don't worry - we'll soon have you back at the Front". Upper-class war dodgers carry on as before, but they think they are making noble sacrifices - "I'm not using my German wine - not while the War's on". The staff officer who visits the Front is patently unfamiliar with life there, and desperate to get away, but happy enough to have the men live (and die) in these conditions.

By 1915, the optimism has died. The parade of wounded men is a sea of grim, hopeless faces. Black humour has now replaced the enthusiasm of the early days. "There's A Long, Long Trail A-Winding" captures the new mood of despair, and the scene with the tommies filing along in torrential rain is powerfully evocative. Poppies provide the only colour.

We see English soldiers drinking in an estaminet. The chanteuse (Pia Colombo) leads them in a jolly chorus of "The Moon Shines Bright On Charlie Chaplin", a reworking of an American song, then shifts the mood dramatically by singing "Adieu la vie", a truly great tragic song.

The Australian troops have an easy, informal approach to discipline. They make fun of the 'proper' English reserves who are replacing them on the battlefield, and the contrast between the two cultures is depicted by the stiffness of the English drill compared with the sprawling comfort of the Aussies. Naturally enough, the Australians deride the staff officers who arrive to inspect the reserves.

Another passage in the film which simply doesn't work is the religious service in the ruined abbey. Its purpose is to point out the hypocrisy of the great religions, which all came out in favour of the War, but the scene drags horribly and slackens the film's otherwise brisk pace.

1916 passes, and the film's tone darkens appreciably. Now the songs have a wistful quality, laced with the chirpy stoicism of the British soldier - "The Bells Of Hell", "If The Sergeant Steals Your Rum, Never Mind" and "Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire". The trench scenes are terrific, powerfully evoking the squalour of the Front. The wounded are laid out in ranks at the field station, a mockery of the healthy rows of young men who entered the War. Harry Smith's silently-suffering face is one of the film's great images.

The War is drawing to its close, but still the ironies are piling up. The Americans arrive, singing (in travesty of Cohan) "And we won't come back - we'll be buried over there!" Freddy notices with disgust that after three years of this nightmare, he is literally back where he started, fighting at Mons.

As the Armistice is sounding, Freddy is the last one to die. The film closes with a truly stunning aerial view of soldiers' graves, dizzying in their geometry and scale, as the voices of the dead sing, "We'll Never Tell Them". It brought a tear to this reviewer's eye.

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Deighton on the mythologies that have grown up around this film rmallows
The man freaks me out phosie
FIELD MARSHAL SIR DOUGLAS HAIG murdoch1111
Joan Littlewood and Richard Attenborough murdoch1111
Just in Passing AWaite4
All the Smith men die (apparently)...so where's Dickie Smith? onedaymore_hmeyer
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