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How I Won the War (1967) [Blu-ray]

3.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: John Lennon, Michael Crawford, Roy Kinnear, Jack MacGowran, Michael Hordern
  • Directors: Richard Lester
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Kl Studio Classics
  • Release Date: Jan. 12 2016
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0172K6U7M
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,077 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Rock legend John Lennon (A Hard Day’s Night) 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 (A Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Forum) co-stars as an inept WWII commander leading his troops to series of zany misadventures in the satirical war classic directed by the great Richard Lester (The Knack… and How to Get It), featuring beautiful cinematography by David Watkin (Chariots of Fire, Out of Africa) and a stellar supporting cast that includes Roy Kinnear (The Hill), Lee Montague (Mahler), Jack MacGowran (The Fearless Vampire Killers), Michael Hordern (Where Eagles Dare) and Alexander Knox (The Vikings).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Lester's satirical look at the horrors of war - and the ill-conceived glorification of it in war films - is perhaps his most brilliant effort ever. I'll go further, "How I Won The War" may be one of the most unjustly ignored and underrated films of the past 30+ years. Granted, Lester's dense symbolism, Brechtian framing devices, layered sound and use of flashbacks/forwards will confuse some, put off those who are looking for the light comedy of Lester's "A Hard Day's Night", but if you put those assumptions aside and let "War" wash over you, you will be rewarded with a rich and mature comedy with bite. Major credit also goes to Lester's screenwriter, Charles Wood (who also scripted "Help!"). Excellent performances throughout (including a quite eerie Lennon death scene), with special mention to Michael Crawford, who pulls off a difficult role as the hapless Lt. Goodbody. The late Roy Kinnear shines (as usual). This film is not for everyone, but it is for anyone who appreciates tales well-told and cinema that attempts to do more than simply entertain. The don't make 'em like this anymore, and more's the pity.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I had a grainy VHS copy off TV from the 1980's so was glad to have a pristine copy on DVD of this film of John's. The bonus photo book was an added plus as it is contains the only photograph of John composing Strawberry Fields Forever, that I am aware of. The film is a great addition to the Dick Lester films of the Beatles - though John has a little less of a starring role in this film it is well worth getting if you are at all curious as to his acting abilities - He would have made a fine actor had he pursued it!
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Format: VHS Tape
If you're seeking this movie out as a Beatles fan there are a few things you ought to know. First of all, despite John Lennon's handsome mug being prominately featured on the cover of this videotape, he only features in about 15 minutes of this film. (It is NOT how John Lennon's character Gripweed won the war - as the artwork on this tape might lead you to believe - but rather how Michael Crawford's character won the war). Secondly, John does not have much of an opportunity to act silly when he IS featured on camera so if you are expecting another performance like "A Hard Days Night" you will be disappointed. Thirdly, John's last scene in this movie is somewhat uncomfortable to watch given the tragic way in which he died (John's character is mortally wounded in combat and he addresses the camera one final time lying dazed and bleeding). Some of the British humor and the accents in particular are hard to interpret but not any more so than "A Hard Days Night" or "Help". Being that it's a Richard Lester film some of the same actors seen in "Help!" are featured here but this is by no means a vehicle for Lennon's acting career.
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Format: DVD
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: DVD
First of all, I have to say that my review is colored by the fact that I read the book (which is apparently and unfortunately not in print) first. The book is a hilarious story of a bumbling, Clouseau-esque British military commander (I forget his rank) and his misadventures in World War II, told in a series of episodes. The book's humor derives from the absurd situations (in one chapter, the British and Germans fight "The Battle of the Booze," attempting to loot high-quality wine from an Italian village) as well as the commander's inability to perceive his troops' contempt for him, not to mention his failure to perceive his own idiocy. There is nothing specifically anti-war in the book, it's just a funny book set in war-time. Given the time and circumstances of the movie version (Vietnam war, hip young director, and participating Beatle), it's not surprising that Lester tried to inject a strong anti-war sentiment. In a daring move, amidst the (attempted) comedy, there are graphic scenes of wounded, as in M.A.S.H. However, unlike M.A.S.H., there's nothing really funny in the movie. Almost every humorous episode from the book is cut out. Instead, in Lester's attempt to make a statement about the nonsense of war, you get a lot of nonsense on the screen. Lester's attempts to be cutting-edge in his direction seem way too self-conscious and smugly sardonic. At one point, you see two old ladies watching the movie in a theater and commenting on it, like a bad Monty Python skit. Also, if you're American, the dialogue is so thickly British, it's incomprehensible at times. I guess you could, as one reviewer suggested, use headphones, but I suspect that it would hardly be worth it, as this movie is so disappointing otherwise.Read more ›
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