7.1/10
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69 user 26 critic

Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)

The working-class Smiths change their initially sunny views on World War I after the three boys of the family witness the harsh reality of trench warfare.

Writers:

Charles Chilton (based on Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop Production by, and the members of the original cast), Ted Allan (after a stage treatment by)
Reviews
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 7 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Wendy Allnutt ... Florence Victoria 'Flo' Smith
Colin Farrell Colin Farrell ... Harry Arnold Smith
Malcolm McFee Malcolm McFee ... Frederick Percy 'Freddie' Smith
John Rae John Rae ... Grandpa Smith
Corin Redgrave ... Bertram Biddle 'Bertie' Smith
Maurice Roëves ... George Patrick Michael Smith
Paul Shelley ... Jack Henry Smith
Kim Smith Kim Smith ... Richard 'Dickie' Smith
Angela Thorne ... Elizabeth May 'Betty' Smith
Mary Wimbush ... Mary Emma Smith
Vincent Ball Vincent Ball ... Australian Soldier
Pia Colombo Pia Colombo ... Estaminet Singer
Paul Daneman Paul Daneman ... Czar Nicholas II
Isabel Dean ... Sir John French's Lady
Christian Doermer ... Fritz
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Storyline

A movie about World War I based on a stage musical of the same name, portraying the "Game of War", and focusing mainly on the members of the Smith family who go off to war. Much of the action in the movie revolves around the words of the marching songs of the soldiers, and many scenes portray some of the more famous (and infamous) incidents of the war, including the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the Christmas meeting between British and German soldiers in no-man's-land, and the wiping out by their own side of a force of Irish soldiers newly arrived at the front, after successfully capturing a ridge that had been contested for some time. Written by Sonya Roberts <sonya_roberts@geocities.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The ever popular war game with songs battles & a few jokes See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical | War

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The trench scenes were all shot at Brighton Municipal Rubbish dump. The actors and crew involved in those scenes all described the overwhelming stench of the dump which was exacerbated by the hot summer weather. See more »

Goofs

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

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig: Grant us victory, O Lord, before the Americans get here.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: The principal statements made by the historical characters in this film are based on documentary evidence and the words of the songs are those sung by the troops during the First World War See more »

Connections

References Cavalcade (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Never Mind
(uncredited)
Written by Henry Dent and Tom Goldburn
See more »

User Reviews

 
the futility of war
21 November 2006 | by didi-5See all my reviews

A clever piece of work, this film - Richard Attenborough's first as director and an adaptation of the production by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop - considers the pure futility and waste of World War One by presenting it as a 'war game' based in and around Brighton; on the West Pier, atop a Helter Skelter, etc.

The central characters are the Smith family - several sons and nephews, a grandad, mother, wives and younger children. All have tickets for the game, welcomed in at Douglas Haig's booth (Haig puts his own words to 'I do like to be beside the seaside' = 'I do love to see a man in khaki'). They are the routes by which we follow the various battles and conflicts through the war, punctuated by a soundtrack of popular songs of the period ('It's a Long Way to Tipperary', 'Keep The Home Fires Burning', 'and so on).

Oh! What a Lovely War manages to be daring, funny, and moving, and boasts a starry set of cameos including Olivier, Gielgud, Richardson, Maggie Smith, Dirk Bogarde, Kenneth More, Ian Holm, and Vanessa Redgrave. It covers all of the conflict, from the assassination of the Archduke of Austria, through to the Christmas truce in the trenches, to the war's conclusion. Poppies play their part, as well they might, to indicate the scale of loss of life; and a final tracking shot on the Sussex Downs attempts to give some indication of the wanton destruction of 'cannon fodder' by the powers-that-be.

As a pure war film, this would never work. As a satirical musical, it stands up extremely well, and has many memorable moments to reward the viewer when they see the film again and again. Attenborough himself of course would go on to greater things, culminating in the Oscar-winning Gandhi some 13 years later, but this is an excellent debut, sure of itself and without getting bogged down in cloying sentimentality.


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

3 October 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Oh! What a Lovely War See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$801,591
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Accord Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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