In 1941 the Italian and British forces face one another.Italian army Captain Blasi and his troops capture a British army Major Richardson and his pilot when their scout plane crashes. The Italians allow the two British prisoners to escape. A desperate Captain Blasi decides to allow Major Richardson escape in return for Richardson's word that he will try and persuade his superiors to allow Captain Blasi and his Italian unit retreat without any difficulties or further harassment. O his return the British major is assigned to take his squadron and attack the fort his captors were retreating to. the British Major with a superior British unit takes Captain Blasi and his men prisoner but they slip away. the British abandon their vehicles to give chase on foot and the Native troops with the Italians slip back and burn the vehicles. the fire results in both the British and Italian troops seeking refuge on an island in the middle of a lake. The Italians surrender to the British so they will ...
Italian censorship visa # 34965 delivered on 11-10-1961. See more »
Don't they realise there's a war on?
It is nigh on impossible not to like this film. It is not a 'classic' comedy by any means but cannot fail to raise a smile or two.
It is all down to the casting of course. David Niven is pitch-perfect as a none-too-competent Major and the always excellent Alberto Sordi is an obvious choice following his role in Risi's tragi-comedy 'Everybody go Home'.
There is marvellous support from Harry Andrews, David Opatoshu and Michael Wilding. We also have Michael Trubshawe who was known as Niven's 'mascot' and indeed gave his name to the pilot officer played by Robert Coote in Niven's best film 'A Matter of Life and Death'.
Director Guy Hamilton also has the aid of an infectious score by Nino Rota and cinematography by one of the best in the business, Giuseppe Rotunno. Quite a few had a hand in the script not least the prolific duo of Age-Scarpelli.
Peter Ustinov once observed that 'the army is the final repository of the fool'.
The characters in this film certainly do nothing to contradict that view!
The highlight is a touching scene between Niven and Sordi in which they show each other photographs of their loved ones. Rather than depicting the cruelty of war, this film simply depicts its absurdity.
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