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