32 user 26 critic

How I Won the War (1967)

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


Richard Lester


Patrick Ryan (novel), Charles Wood (screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Crawford ... Lt. Goodbody
John Lennon ... Gripweed
Roy Kinnear ... Clapper
Lee Montague ... Transom
Jack MacGowran ... Juniper
Michael Hordern ... Grapple
Jack Hedley ... Melancholy Musketeer
Karl Michael Vogler ... Odlebog
Ronald Lacey ... Spool
James Cossins ... Drogue
Ewan Hooper ... Dooley
Alexander Knox ... American General
Robert Hardy ... British General
Sheila Hancock ... Mrs. Clapper's Friend
Charles Dyer ... Happy-Trousered Man


This movie features Beatle John Lennon and Roy Kinnear as ill-fated enlisted men under the inept command of Lieutenant Ernest Goodbody (Michael Crawford). 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


John Lennon wrote "Strawberry Fields Forever" while shooting this movie in Spain. See more »


Goodbody: [talking aloud to himself] I can't, I fear, I can't march properly on my own, as an officer, in the public eye.
Juniper: [sitting in back of a truck, smoking, holding a broom] Isn't that sickening when that happens to a chap? Couldn't your drill instructor do something about it? Like a quick jab up the crotch with a broom bass?
[holds up broom]
See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Dinosaur Island (2015) See more »


We're Going to Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line
Written by Michael Carr and Jimmy Kennedy
Sung during the first cricket match and also heard as a theme
See more »

User Reviews

You'll need a British interpreter...
2 July 2002 | by theslick1See all my reviews

I just saw this film for the first time last Friday night at an American Cinematheque screening in L.A. I had pretty low expectations for it but was curious to see John Lennon in an acting role. You could see this film as a pre-cursor to M*A*S*H, but I think that's giving it too much credit.

In short, the film succeeded in meeting my low expectations. I've seen my share of British cinema and particularly a lot of Monty Python, which this film vaguely recalls, and this was a challenging film for me to watch in terms of understanding the humor, the language, and the slang being used by the characters. The bits of slapstick are good, but there aren't enough of them to save the film. Michael Crawford is really the star of the film, and I discovered that a little of him goes a long way. Ninety minutes of him is too much. As for Lennon, he's mostly a small supporting character, although he's given virtually equal billing with Crawford. If you saw Help! or A Hard Day's Night, you know a little about John's personality, and it shines through in the same way here.

I'd recommend watching this at home on video, where you can stop it and return to it if it gets tiresome, which it probably will. I understand that it's due for a DVD release sometime soon.

12 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 32 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.


Official Sites:






Release Date:

23 October 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

How I Won the War See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Petersham Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Recording System)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed