Posts Tagged ‘The Beatles’

How I Won the War (1967) *** Blu-ray release

Dir: Richard Lester | Writer: Charles Wood | Cast: John Lennon, Roy Kinnear, Michael Crawford, Michael Hordern, Jack MacGowran | UK Comedy 109′

In 1967 John Lennon took a break from the band and travelled down to Almeria in Southern Spain where he still managed to write the lyrics for Strawberry Fields Forever while starring in Richard Lester’s surreal comedy. Aside from its merits, the film was always going to be a talking point and would ultimately become a cult classic and one of the most appealing anti-war satires. Based on Patrick Ryan’s book, Charles Wood’s script sends up the British Army in a way that is both harmless and enjoyable.

John Lennon exudes an easy charisma as the bespectacled Private Gripweed, eclipsing Michael Crawford in his role as the incompetent Lieutenant Goodbody leading his troupe of hapless soldiers into active service in Europe and North Africa during the Second World War. Roy Kinnear, Michael Hordern and Jack MacGowran complete the wonderfully witty and watchable cast. MacGowran also polished off another dark comedy role that year starring in Polanski’s Fearless Vampire Killers. Lester’s direction often misfires but in a way that is retrospectively endearing given the nostalgic nature of the subject matter – cricket. A lovely, amusing walk down memory lane. MT



My Generation (2017) ***

Dir: David Batty | Writers: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais | Cast: Michael Caine, Joan Collins, Lulu, Paul McCartney, Twiggy, Roger Daltrey, Marianne Faithfull, Sandie Shaw, Mary Quant, Barbara Hulanicki | UK | Doc | 85′ |

As narrator and co-producer, Michael Caine turns the camera on himself for a filmic flip through the Swinging Sixties, showing how he and his talented contempories transformed Britain.

Assembled over two years, MY GENERATION is directed by David Batty, with scripters Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement ensuring an enjoyable ride through enjoyable archive footage showcasing Caine’s contempories: photographer trio: Terry Donovan, Duffy and David Bailey; fashion models such as Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton and Joanna Lumley and musicians: Roger Daltrey, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger.

Caine, now 84, contemplates the factors that caused the loosening up in the postwar set-up citing The Pill and the advent of Grammar schools as primary factors for change, while Marianne Faithfull suggests it was all down to an improved diet. Whatever the case, they were all determined to have a good time and break down barriers, bringing in a more colourful era and putting London on the map as a beacon of youth culture, as everyone flocked to the capital. Caine, who rose from solid working class stock as Maurice Micklewhite, uses the film to attack posh middle class acting talent, ridiculing the likes of cult classics Brief Encounter (1946) and taking a swipe at  Norman Wisdom who he claims was not generous to work with despite his humble origins. Paul McCartney comes up with the chestnut, “suddenly people realised the working class wasn’t as thick as it looked and it had talent.” Chippy Britain at its best.

Caine goes on to suggest that the advent of drugs brought an end to the Swinging Sixties although stresses he only smoked marijuana once as it made him laugh for five hours so he couldn’t remember his lines. To his credit Caine avoids mawkish sentimentality: “I don’t feel nostalgia. I never look back. I feel extraordinarily lucky, not about my talent or anything, but about the timing,” MY GENERATION is an entertaining romp showing how these legendary characters made the Sixties happen and made their vast fortunes into the bargain.MT


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