How I Won The War
by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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How I Won The War is a fictitious account of World War II from the vantage point of a group of British soldier wannabees starring John Lennon, along with an assorted cast all playing different military positions.
The group goes through maneuvers and drills, all the while cracking jokes and presenting themselves as total misfits—well certainly not fit for war.
Lennon stars in his first film performance in this hilariously surreal collage of battle footage and one-liners lampooning the absurdity of the war. Michael Crawford, Roy Kinnear and Lee Montague also star.
Directed by Richard Lester and originally released in 1967, How I Won The War is available on DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Film Corporation.
Crawford stars as bungling British Army Officer Lieutenant Earnest Goodbody and Lennon stars as Musketeer Gripweed, with Kinnear as Musketeer Clapper.
Lt. Goodbody reveals in flashback sequences just how his believes his actions in North Africa and Europe helped win the war. Clapper is worried that his wife is cheating on him while he’s away and taking silk stockings from any suitor who knocks on her door.
This parody of the war will have you laughing at just how messed up and misguided the Musketeers can be. The movie brings to mind TV series Mash as well as Andy Griffith and Deputy Barney Fife.
The film shows real footage of the war and its carnage alongside the antics of the Musketeers and their ridiculous blackface, clown costumes and pink and blue uniforms. Thank God Lennon had few speaking roles. How I Won The War is funny enough but not laugh uncontrollably loud—which is probably a blessing.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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