How I Won the War

How I Won the War

Michael Crawford
Director: Richard Lester Cast: Michael Crawford
Michael Crawford
, John Lennon
John Lennon
, Roy Kinnear
Roy Kinnear
Richard Lester


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Among the first of the late 60s anti-war films that reflected growing concern over the Vietnam War, How I Won the War takes a cold, dark look at the Good War, World War II. In adapting Patrick Ryan's 1963 novel, screenwriter Charles Wood and director Richard Lester offered a narrative fractured by characters making side comments to the camera, stylized cinematography, inserts of newsreel war footage, and plenty of absurdist humor and slapstick. Ernest Goodbody (Michael Crawford) is a bumbling British officer who manages to get most of his small company of musketeers killed while on a mission in North Africa to set up a cricket pitch behind enemy lines for officers of the advancing British army. The rest of the company dies in an ensuing campaign in Europe near the war's end, but all of the men continue to march along, appearing as monochromatic ghosts. (Original prints of the film intercut real battle footage tinted to match the color of the soon-to-be ghost soldier. Some prints of the film, including one shown on Turner Classic Movies, present the newsreel shots in black and white, undercutting the stylized touch.) The story is framed as a flashback, with Goodbody relating his version of events to a German officer (Karl Michael Vogler), while the real version of events, demonstrating Goodbody's ineptitude, plays out on screen. Among the supporting players are John Lennon, who had worked with Lester on A Hard Day's Night and Help; Roy Kinnear, a Lester regular, as a fat soldier who is certain his wife is cheating on him; Jack MacGowran as the troop's designated fool, and Michael Hordern as a general almost as oblivious to his suffering men as Goodbody.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/12/2016
UPC: 0738329200459
Original Release: 1967
Rating: NR
Source: Kl Studio Classics
Region Code: A
Time: 1:49:00
Sales rank: 24,459

Special Features

The Knack... and how to Get It "Trailers From Hell" with Allan Arkush; The Bed Sitting Room "Trailers From Hell" with John Landis; Richard Lester Trailer Gallery

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael Crawford Lt. Ernest Goodbody
John Lennon Gripweed
Roy Kinnear Clapper
Lee Montague Sgt. 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 Flappy-Trousered Man
Bill Dysart Paratrooper
Paul Daneman Skipper
Peter Graves Staff Officer
Jack May Toby
Richard Pearson Old Man at Alamein
Pauline Taylor Woman In Desert
John Ronane Operator
Norman Chappell Soldier at Alamein
Bryan Pringle Reporter
Fanny Carby Mrs. Clapper
Dandy Nichols 1st Old Lady
Gretchen Franklin Old Lady
John Junkin Large Child
John Trenaman Driver
Mick Dillon 1st Replacement
Kenneth Colley Replacement

Technical Credits
Richard Lester Director,Producer
Eddie Fowlie Special Effects
Dinah Greet Costumes/Costume Designer
Philip Harrison Art Director
Denis O'Dell Producer
John Victor Smith Editor
John Stoll Art Director
Ken Thorne Score Composer
David Watkin Cinematographer
Charles Wood Screenwriter

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