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How I Won the War Details


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 John Lennon and John Lennon; 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. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi


Michael Crawford
as Lt. Ernest Goodbody
John Lennon
as Gripweed
Roy Kinnear
as Clapper
Lee Montague
as Sgt. Transom
Jack MacGowran
as Juniper
Michael Hordern
as Grapple
Jack Hedley
as Melancholy Musketeer
Ronald Lacey
as Spool
James Cossins
as Drogue
Ewan Hooper
as Dooley
Alexander Knox
as American general
Robert Hardy
as British General
Sheila Hancock
as Mrs. Clapper's Friend
Paul Daneman
as Skipper
Richard Pearson
as Old Man at Alamein
Pauline Taylor
as Woman In Desert
John Ronane
as Operator
Norman Chappell
as Soldier at Alamein
Bryan Pringle
as Reporter
Fanny Carby
as Mrs. Clapper
Dandy Nichols
as 1st Old Lady
Gretchen Franklin
as Old Lady
John Junkin
as Large Child
John Trenaman
as Driver
Mick Dillon
as 1st Replacement
Kenneth Colley
as Replacement


Richard Lester
Richard Lester
Denis O'Dell
David Watkin
Ken Thorne
Composer (Music Score)
Dinah Greet
Costume Designer
Eddie Fowlie
Special Effects