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Oh! What a Lovely War (1969, Laurence Olivier, Vanessa Redgrave)


An anti-war musical satire with all an all-star cast including John Mills, Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier.

This odd, very moving anti-war satire and musical is all the stranger for its star-laden cast, which includes some all-time greats: Laurence Olivier, John Mills, Maggie Smith and a brace of Redgraves. It was also Richard Attenborough's directorial debut.

The horror of World War One is told through the popular songs of the time, and contrasts the generally incompetent officer class with the salt-of-the-earth Tommies they send to be slaughtered in the battlefields of France.

The approach is off-the-wall. Brighton Pier represents England, with the British public entering through the turnstiles and General Haig (Mills) selling tickets - he also plays leapfrog, and oversees battles from a helter skelter.

But the horror of the War is amply communicated and is heartbreakingly ironic given the jingoism running riot back in Blighty. And the indomitable sentiments expressed in the soldiers' songs stand in terrible contrast to the slaughter at the front - which did away with most of a generation of young British men.

cast
Laurence Olivier as Field Marshal Sir John French
Vanessa Redgrave as Sylvia Pankhurst
Maggie Smith as Music Hall Star
John Mills as Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig
Corin Redgrave as Bertie Smith
Maurice Roeves as George Smith
Ian Holm as President Poincare
Juliet Mills as Nurse
Michael Bates as Drunk Lance Corporal
Edward Fox as Aide to Field-Marshal Haig
Dirk Bogarde as Stephen
Jean-Pierre Cassel as French Colonel
John Clements as Gen. von Moltke
John Gielgud as Count Leopold Von Berchtold
Jack Hawkins as Emperor Franz Josef
Kenneth More as Kaiser Wilhelm II
Michael Redgrave as Gen. Sir Henry Wilson
Ralph Richardson as Sir Edward Grey
Susannah York as Eleanor
Robert Flemyng as Staff Officer in Gassed Trench
Paul Daneman as Czar Nicholas II
Guy Middleton as Gen. Sir William Robertson
Angela Thorne as Elizabeth May 'Betty' Smith
Wendy Allnutt as Florence Victoria 'Flo' Smith
Colin Farrell as Harry Arnold Smith
Malcolm McFee as Frederick Percy 'Freddie' Smith
John Rae as Grandpa Smith
Paul Shelley as Jack Henry Smith
Kim Smith as Richard 'Dickie' Smith
Mary Wimbush as Mary Emma Smith
John Owens as Seamus Moore
Vincent Ball as Australian Soldier
Penelope Allen as Solo Chorus Girl
Pia Colombo as Estaminet Singer
Isabel Dean as Sir John French's Lady
Christian Doermer as Fritz
Joe Melia as The Photographer
Nanette Newman as Nurse
Cecil Parker as Sir John
Natasha Parry as Sir William Robertson's Lady
Gerald Sim as Chaplain
Thorley Walters as Staff Officer
Anthony Ainley as 3rd Aide
Geoffrey Davies as Aide to Haig
Fanny Carby as Mill Girl
Peter Gilmore as Pte Burgess
Ben Howard as Pte Garbett
Norman Jones as Scottish Soldier
Angus Lennie as Scottish Soldier
Paddy Joyce as Irish Soldier
Harry Locke as Heckler
Ron Pember as Corporal
Marianne Stone as Mill Girl
Christine Noonan as Mill Girl (uncredited)
Derek Newark as Shooting Gallery Proprietor
Clifford Mollison as Heckler
Norman Bird as Training Sgt (uncredited)
Jeremy Child as Wealthy Young Man (uncredited)
Richard Davies as Sergeant in Burial Party (uncredited)
Stanley Lebor as Soldier (uncredited)
Jane Seymour as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Wensley Pithey as Archduke Ferdinand (uncredited)
Meriel Forbes as Lady Pamela Grey
David Lodge as Recruiting Sergeant at Music Hall
Maurice Arthur as Soldier Singer at Chaplain's Address
Freddie Ascott as 'Whizzbang' Soldier
Cecilia Darby as Sir Henry Wilson's Lady
George Ghent as Heckler at Pankhurst Speech
Dorothy Reynolds as Heckler at Pankhurst Speech
John Trigger as Officer at Railway Station
Kathleen Wileman as Emma Smith - Age 4
Phyllis Calvert as Lady Dorothy Haig
Pamela Abbott as Czarina Alexandra (uncredited)
Charlotte Attenborough as Emma Smith - Age 8 (uncredited)
Roy Beck as American GI (uncredited)
Annie Bee as Girl Friend in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Joanne Brown as Singer (uncredited)
Christopher Cabot as Soldier in Shell Hole (uncredited)
Frank Coda as Soldier in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Ambrose Coghill as His Father (uncredited)
Stella Courtney as Poincaré's Lady (uncredited)
Sheila Cox as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Elizabeth Craven as Kaiserin Augusta (uncredited)
John Dunn-Hill as Irish Soldier (uncredited)
Ray Edwards as 3rd Staff Officer in Ballroom (uncredited)
Charles Farrell as Policeman (uncredited)
Hermione Farthingale as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Frank Forsyth as President Woodrow Wilson (uncredited)
Joyce Franklin as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
John Gabriel as Nikolai Lenin (uncredited)
Zeph Gladstone as Sir John's Chauffeuse (uncredited)
Ruth Gower as General von Moltke's Lady (uncredited)
Kim Grant as Soldier in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Carole Gray as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Paul Hansard as German Officer (uncredited)
Kathleen Helme as Berchtold's Lady (uncredited)
Richard Howard as Young Soldier at Mons (uncredited)
John Hussey as Soldier on Balcony (uncredited)
Dinny Jones as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Lind Joyce as Scoreboard Girl (uncredited)
Dolores Judson as Haig's Girlfriend (uncredited)
Ruth Kettlewell as Duchess Sophie (uncredited)
Delia Linden as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
Richard Loring as Soldier in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Tom Marshall as Soldier in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Stanley McGeagh as Soldier in Gassed Trench (uncredited)
Isabelle Metcalfe as Girl Friend in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Jenny Morgan as Girl Friend in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Anthony Morton as Italian Military Attaché (uncredited)
Steve Plytas as Turkish Military Attaché (uncredited)
Andrew Robertson as 2nd Scottish Soldier (uncredited)
Sue Robinson as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
David Scheuer as French Soldier (uncredited)
Valerie Smith as Girl Friend in 'Goodbyee' (uncredited)
Guy Standeven as American Officer (uncredited)
Pippa Steel as Scoreboard Girl (uncredited)
P.G. Stephens as Irish Soldier (uncredited)
Tony Thawnton as Officer on Telephone (uncredited)
Christian Thorogood as Irish Soldier (uncredited)
Brian Tipping as 4th Scottish Soldier (uncredited)
Bette Vivian as Heckler at Pankhurst Speech (uncredited)
Tony Vogel as German Soldier (uncredited)
Arthur White as Sergeant in Dugout (uncredited)
Michael Wolf as German Officer (uncredited)
John Woodnutt as British Officer (uncredited)
Julia Wright as Haig's Secretary (uncredited)
Mary Yeomans as Scoreboard Girl (uncredited)
Norman Shelley as Staff Officer in Ballroom

Director: Richard Attenborough

UK | 138 minutes | 1969

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