Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)

Oh! What a Lovely War




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Oh! What a Lovely War is an every-man-for-himself adaptation of Charles Chilton's 1963 play, as staged in London by Joan Littlewood. The tragedy of World War I is redefined in bawdy music-hall terms, beginning with a verbal free-for-all involving the Crowned Heads of Europe. The war is presented as the "new attraction" at the Brighton Amusement Pier, complete with syrupy cheer-up songs, shooting galleries, free prizes and a scoreboard toting up the dead. Throughout the proceedings, the camera … More

Rating: G
Genre: Drama, Musical & Performing Arts, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Charles Chilton, Len Deighton
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 7, 2006
Paramount Pictures



as Grandpa Smith

as Bertie Smith

as Sir Edward Grey

as Lady Grey

as Archduke Franz Ferdi...

as Duchess Sophie

as President Poincare

as Count Berchtold

as Kaiser Wilhelm II

as Nicholas II

as Photographer

as Emperor Franz Josef

as Mary Smith

as Jack Smith

as Flo Smith

as George Smith

as Betty Smith

as Field Marshall Sir D...

as French Colonel

as Music Hall Star

as Recruiting Sergiant

as General Sir Henry Wi...

as Field Marshal Sir Jo...

as Private Burgess

as First Nurse At Stati...

as Second Nurse At Stat...

as Eleanor

as Stephen

as Sir John

as Staff Officer

as Sir John French's La...

as Gen. Sir. Wm. Robert...

as Sir Wm. Robertson's ...

as Staff Officer

as Staff Officer

as Lady Haig

as Sylvia Pankhurst

as First Heckler

as Third Heckler

as Drunken Corporal

as Australian Singer

as Clergyman

as Second Heckler

as 2nd Mill Girl
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Critic Reviews for Oh! What a Lovely War

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (4)

It is an elaborately staged tableau, a dazzling use of the camera to achieve essentially theatrical effects. And judged on that basis, Richard Attenborough has given us a breathtaking evening.

Full Review… | August 25, 2014
Top Critic

An often too-clever, sometimes moving piece.

Full Review… | August 25, 2014
Time Out
Top Critic

[Attenborough] has chosen to make a big, elaborate, sometimes realistic film whose elephantine physical proportions and often brilliant all-star cast simply overwhelm the material with a surfeit of good intentions.

Full Review… | August 25, 2014
New York Times
Top Critic

Dedicated, exhilarating, shrewd, mocking, funny, emotional, witty, poignant and technically brilliant.

Full Review… | February 23, 2012
Top Critic

The huge potential of this all-star vehicle was mainly squandered through a lack of subtlety or irony.

Full Review… | August 25, 2014
Empire Magazine

Stylised, satirical and ultimately moving.

Full Review… | August 25, 2014
Radio Times

Audience Reviews for Oh! What a Lovely War

A strange and interesting Great War film that presents the conflict as, among other things, a garish seaside carnival to which everyone wanted a ticket. More than many films I've seen based on plays, this one incorporates elements of staging you'd expect from the theatre without any ill effects; in some scenes, it's like there's a camera in the theatre and you can see literal set pieces, while others (increasingly, as the film goes on) immerse you in the action you'd need to mostly imagine were you in a theatre. I also found in places that the film's sense of the absurd (if not its hilarity) rivalled that of Monty Python. Do we call it a satire? I think so... but its project of laying bare the conflict's human cost and its deference to the symbolic value of the poppy and the increasingly fatalistic songs of the soldiers is worth noting, too. In all it's not an overly exciting movie to watch, but it's a rich and layered document that ought to survive.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


A war film unlike any other.

Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

Strange adaption of the WWI play. The comedy and satire is I guess mostly lost on me in translation as this movie is VERY British. Goes on way too long, and despite all of the great British actors, I just couldn't get into it or get over its stagey methods.

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