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Oh! What a Lovely War Details


Oh! What a Lovely War is an every-man-for-himself adaptation of Charles Chilton's 1963 play, as staged in London by Joan Littlewood. The tragedy of World War I is redefined in bawdy music-hall terms, beginning with a verbal free-for-all involving the Crowned Heads of Europe. The war is presented as the "new attraction" at the Brighton Amusement Pier, complete with syrupy cheer-up songs, shooting galleries, free prizes and a scoreboard toting up the dead. Throughout the proceedings, the camera concentrates on a middle-class family, whose five sons end up as cannon fodder. The final image is a veddy proper British picnic on a graveyard. Of the many fleeting satiric images parading past the camera, one of the most indelible is the sight of several generals playing leapfrog as the world all around them goes to hell in a handbasket. The awesome all-star cast includes Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Maggie Smith, John Gielgud, Michael Redgrave, Jack Hawkins, John Mills, Susannah York, Dirk Bogarde and Phyllis Calvert. We haven't seen this many Englishmen in one place since the last Wimbledon match. The whole affair was supervised by Richard Attenborough, making his directorial debut (a question: why was he up to the challenge of this musical extravaganza, yet seemed helpless in the face of 1985's Richard Attenborough?). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:April 10, 1969


Awarded by
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Anthony Mendleson Best Costume Design 1969 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Richard Attenborough United Nations Award 1969 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Richard Attenborough Best Picture 1969 Nominee
Directors Guild of America Richard Attenborough Best Director 1969 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Laurence Olivier Best Supporting Actor 1969 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Don Ashton Best Art Direction 1969 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Gerry Turpin Best Cinematography 1969 Winner


Ralph Richardson
as Sir Edward Grey
Meriel Forbes
as Lady Grey
Wensley Pithey
as Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Ruth Kettlewell
as Duchess Sophie
Ian Holm
as President Poincare
John Gielgud
as Count Berchtold
Kenneth More
as Kaiser Wilhelm II
Paul Daneman
as Nicholas II
Joe Melia
as Photographer
Jack Hawkins
as Emperor Franz Josef
Kim Smith
as Dickie Smith
Mary Wimbush
as Mary Smith
Paul Shelley
as Jack Smith
Wendy Allnutt
as Flo Smith
John Rae
as Grandpa Smith
Corin Redgrave
as Bertie Smith
Maurice Roeves
as George Smith
Angela Thorne
as Betty Smith
John Mills
as Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig
Jean-Pierre Cassel
as French Colonel
Maggie Smith
as Music Hall Star
Michael Redgrave
as General Sir Henry Wilson
Laurence Olivier
as Field Marshal Sir John French
Peter Gilmore
as Private Burgess
Juliet Mills
as First Nurse At Station
Nanette Newman
as Second Nurse At Station
Susannah York
as Eleanor
Dirk Bogarde
as Stephen
Cecil Parker
as Sir John
Robert Flemyng
as Staff Officer
Isabel Dean
as Sir John French's Lady
Guy Middleton
as Gen. Sir. Wm. Robertson
Natasha Parry
as Sir Wm. Robertson's Lady
Norman Shelley
as Staff Officer
Thorley Walters
as Staff Officer
Phyllis Calvert
as Lady Haig
Vanessa Redgrave
as Sylvia Pankhurst
Clifford Mollison
as First Heckler
Harry Locke
as Third Heckler
Vincent Ball
as Australian Singer
Gerald Sim
as Clergyman
Dorothy Reynolds
as Second Heckler
John Clements
Marianne Stone
as 2nd Mill Girl


Richard Attenborough
Richard Attenborough
Len Deighton
Len Deighton
Gerry Turpin
Alfred Ralston
Musical Direction/Supervision
Alfred Ralston
Composer (Music Score)
Kevin Connor
Don Ashton
Production Designer
Harry White
Art Director
Anthony Mendleson
Costume Designer
Simon Kaye
Sound/Sound Designer
Peter Handford
Sound/Sound Designer
Ron Ballanger
Special Effects
Eleanor Fazan
Stuart Freeborn