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How I Won the War

3.6 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

John 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 also stars. The feature has been remastered for this DVD release with supervision from Richard Lester (Director), and John Victor-Smith (Editor). Now you can bring home John Lennon's only non-Beatles performance in a feature film.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Crawford, John Lennon, Roy Kinnear
  • Directors: Richard Lester
  • Writers: Charles Wood
  • Producers: Richard Lester
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: MGM
  • DVD Release Date: March 20, 2011
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004PYERHE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,906 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. N. McBain on July 7, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Many people watch this movie for the same reason as did I: they were Beatles fans and wanted to see Lennon. I was about 13 when I stayed up until about 5am watching this movie on cable, and, for one thing, being exhausted really adds an element to it, but I think that people who are disappointed in it because they were expecting something different are missing the point. I though the movie was a brilliant farce and is one of the greatest British comedies ever. Keep in mind that British comics have very little compuction about what they do. I thought that Lennon's performance was very natural and irreverent, just as it was in A Hard Days' Night and Help! and I certainly wasn't disappointed in it in the least. Crawford was surprisingly thin, but also gave a great performance. The movie is just meant to be a weird, eye-opening experience and one must approach it from that angle. Granted, it isn't for everyone, but all the people whom I've shown the movie loved it and got a copy for themselves. So, if you're a wee-teensy-bit off-kilter and daring when it comes to movies, watch this one several times, because you catch new stuff everytime (mostly due to the actors speaking so fast). It's one of my favorites.
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Format: VHS Tape
Richard Lester created in "How I Won the War" a film that simply cannot be categorized.
Symbolism abounds in the film, and in alternating instances, its overtness and its subtlety can prove confusing. For this reason, the film needs to be viewed more than once.
The blatant attack on the military mindset is brilliantly executed. In swift strokes he makes a mockery of military officers and warmongers; one scene in particular has two British officers exchanging bubble gum cards of war scenes, with one insisting in a haughty accent "I want school bombing ... I do."
Michael Crawford and John Lennon are joined by an excellent supporting cast, including Victor Spinetti the brilliant (but unfortunately "late") Leo McKern. Crawford plays the role with just the right amount of smarminess, egoism and overt stupidity that it calls for. Lennon and McKern's innocence causes the closing segment to be doubly powerful.
Overall ... a fine film worth seeing, especially for any fans of social commentary.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
"How I Won the War," starring Michael Crawford and John Lennon, was a strange movie that I enjoyed watching over and over again as a teenager, desperately trying to understand exactly what the heck was going on at any given time. Now that I'm older and wiser, I still have no idea! However, this quirky British dark comedy will force you to laugh for reasons you may or may not understand. It's just crazy. One of my goals in life is to become enlightened and understand this movie before I die (which hopefully won't ruin it).
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Format: VHS Tape
anyone who sees this film will never be able to watch a war movie again without remembering the questions posed by richard lester in this film. lester holds accountable the military traditions of all countries, and in no way spares his own england. this movie is a must see for any serious student of warfare and its part in the human experience....this is a great film!
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By A Customer on December 16, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Rented it AGAIN and watched it wearing headphones. I understood every word and loved it. I will now spring for the the big bucks to buy it. This movie is a classic...still Richard Lester madness but that is part of its message. War is madness.I recommend this movie...with headphones.
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Format: DVD
Under Richard Lester's direction, Patrick Ryan's "How I Won the War", which he wrote with Ernest Goodbody(portrayed by a lean, freckled, and witless young Michael Crawford)is brought to the big screen.
Not having read the book on which the darkly comic film was based, I will note that the film stands on its own as a notable feature of the British anti-war film genre, during which an artistic community depict the very war which imperiled them during their earliest years of life as a device to express their objection to U.S. involvment in Vietnam.Inevitably the war depicted in the film, and the time of its release play key factors in the significance of this film, and given that the same destruction of life, families, and property take place in all wars, the film still has much relavance now.
In flashbacks, fantasy sequences, actual footage of World War II campaigns, and via Goodbody's stint in a German P.O.W. camp where he converses with the German officer, Odlebog(Karl Michael Vogler), we learn of his ordeal, and that of the ill-fated unit serving under him, including Gripweed(Beatle John Lennon, who though in reality going against military regulations, manages to keep a bit of his trademark shag hairdo), Clapper(Roy Kinnear)who worries about his wife's (Fanny Carby) infidelity, Juniper(Jack MacGowran), Transom (Lee Montague), and the non-compliant Melancholy Musketeer(Jack Hedley).
The objective of this unit --the 3rd Troop, the 4th Musketeers of a fictional regiment, is to set up an "Advanced Area Cricket Pitch" behind enemy lines in Tunisia. In fact, we catch our first glimpse of most of the principals on a lovely English cricket field before they go into uniform.
Goodbody is under the command of officer Grapple (Michael Hordern).
Read more ›
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