What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? Reviews
Two companies - one of Italian soldiers, one American - find themselves wanting to sit out the end of WWII in a small, welcoming Sicilian village. But they'll have to keep their naive, by-the-book, supposedly-in-charge American Captain (Shawn) fooled and distracted by an Italian beauty - and also fool both the American and German armies - to pull it off. Luckily, fools abound.
The cake has all the right ingredients stirred into the batter: production and storyline from Blake Edwards ("The Pink Panther," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Days of Wine and Roses"), co-stars Carroll O'Connor (aka Archie Bunker) and Henry Morgan (aka M*A*S*H's Colonel Potter), screenwriting from William Peter Blatty ("The Exorcist"), score/song from Henry Mancini, strong supporting talents, and Panavision icing. Still, somehow, it just doesn't bake up all that well.
What's glaringly absent from this film - and NOT missing from those other war comedies - is sly/clever/witty dialogue. Rather this film over-relies on mediocre situational comedy and shtick: Shawn cross-dressing a la "Some Like It Hot," Morgan lost in a maze of catacombs, drunken brawling, nursing the hungover, quarreling/shouting in Italian, a German officer dead in flagrante delicto, and so forth.
Another shortcoming is Shawn's miscasting. He's simply not strong enough to overcome the weak banter, leaving James Coburn, as his scheming Lieutenant, standing alone in the battlefield to try to deliver most of the comedic heavy lifting.
RECOMMENDATION: Die-hard fans of classic 50s/60s war comedies probably won't be able to resist, but lowered expectations are well advised.
Comedy master? Blake Edwards weaves his wacky madness? in this first-rate? WWII story of a by-the-book Captain (Dick Shawn) who is ordered to take over a troop of misfit soldiers led by Lieutenant James Coburn.
This one failed to impress me as a comedy or anything else.
Not a violent WWII movie or anything close, its just pure fantasy tale of what might have happened in Italy during the war.
Screenplay: William Peter Blatty
Executive Producer: Owen Crump
Production Designer: Fernando Carrere
Associate Producer: Dick Crockett
Director: Blake Edwards
Producer: Blake Edwards
Story by: Blake Edwards
Cinematographer: Philip H. Lathrop
Composer: Henry Mancini
Story by: Maurice Richlin
Editor: Ralph E. Winters