“Give the British soldier plenty of tea, and there you are: he’ll die for you.”
A group of British soldiers, led by inept Commander Goodbody (Michael Crawford), is assigned the task of clearing a mine-ridden cricket field in North Africa.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary describes this Richard Lester anti-war spoof as “shaky but funny and fanciful” — all true, though the “absurdity of war” trope has been played out to stronger effect numerous times since this film’s release, i.e. in Three Kings (1999). In addition, as Roger Ebert points out, it’s difficult for American audiences to understand what the British actors are saying much of the time. Meanwhile, John Lennon — the major attraction for many would-be viewers, especially given that his face envelops the video/DVD cover — plays such a minor role it’s tempting to sue for false advertising; it is actually spindly-legged Michael Crawford (of Phantom of the Opera fame) who is the primary protagonist and narrator of the movie, and he carries the role well. The film’s best moments occur when Crawford is befriending the German commander in his POW camp — an “absurd” situation with the potential for genuinely radical consequences, yet one which is sadly underdeveloped.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Clever use of colored costumes to designate dead soldiers rejoining their platoon
- The soldiers casually stirring desert sand into their tea cups instead of sugar
- Goodbody’s short-lived friendship with his German POW commander
No, though it’s worth a one-time look.