THE MICHIGAN DAILY
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1968
'How I Won the War' and the Rea
By ELLEN FRANK
Richard Lester's "How I
Won the War" tells us how
we make wars. We create con-
soling myths and believable
crusades from the explanations
of nostalgic veterans and ac-
tion war movies. War is not a
group of civilians surprised at
their new army attire. No, war
is in bright colors of pink and
blue, coming back to us as mass
battle scenes where men die
bravely for King and Country.
War is Winston Churchill say-
ing "I want a battle." "War
is" as Lester's Lt. Ernest Good-
body so aptly stated, "the,
noblest of games."
Lester cleverly exploits
World War II and the war
movie technique, two of West-
ern world's nostalgic favorites,
to reveal our misconceptions.
Newsreel strips from Dunkirk
and Alamein, shaded in pinks
and blues, seem far enough
away to be appealingly histor-
ical. The newsreels slipped into
the body of the film are typic-
ally overwhelming reminders
of what we consider as war.
Yet they are so incongruous in
their omnipotence that the fic-
titious battles and civilian-like
soldiers created by Lester be-
come the real thing.
T h e characterization o f
"How I Won the War" pushes
it further away from satire and
into balck comedy. A small
British platoon, its commander
and their sergeant, are the
central, characters. They are
likable, British and on a cru-
cial mission in North Africa.
(They must lay a cricket field
behind enemy lines.) They are
therefore expected to act like
war movie men - brave, hard
and dedicated soldiers. But
Lester inverts everything. He
jerks and jabs at preconcep-
tions of the good soldier who
appears in newsreels, war
movies and now on the 6:30
News every night, direct from
The soldiers of "How I Won
the War" are all pretty much
homey cowards who do not
care to obey their superior of-
ficer and lose their lives on
the ridiculous mission of pitch-
ing the cricket field. They
would much rather just kill
the officer and forget it.
Lester communicates this un-
derstandable indifference by
creating a new kind of char-
acter. His soldiers neither
follow the narrative line of the
film nor do they have the con-
sistency of the usual action
movie man. Instead one talks
about his wife, who is sleeping
with the baker at home. Or
they hide in the truck with
nothing on but their under-
wear. Often they use the device
of talking directly to the audi-
ence to tell them this may not
be what happens in a real war
movie but it is what happens in
a real war. The audience ex-
pects them to be heroes, though
they continually and jokingly
explain that they are simply
civilians in green clothes, and
they do not want to die.
Lester's characters often ex-
plain that they are in a film,
even though they are being
killed. This war is only a show,
and except for romantic tales
of blood, everyone will forget
about it in a little while. Even
if it was "the most justifiable
conflict of Western history."
The most interesting draw-
back is the necessary playing
with the audience's - or the
reviewer's - political precon-
ceptions. Life magazine's Rich-
ard Schickel said Lester "would
have us judge his work pri-
marily by moral rather than
aesthetic criteria, and so I
think it is incumbent on a critic
to state the moral position
from which he approaches it
. .I am neither hawk nor
dove, and Mr. Lester failed to
win me over."
Schickel's statement is ap-
parently applicable to the poli-
tics of the audience as well.
Richard Lester said "I believe
I have made a genuinely pac-
ifist film," but its quality and
impact may be wasted on the
pacifists who have already
made up their minds.
DAVE SIGLIN and
1421 Hill St.
singing City Folk Music
playing 6 & 12 string guitar and banjo
$1.00 cover includes entertainment and refreshments!
By BARBARA HOCKMAN
Social satire and critique in
theatre is an old thing, but to
work, the intended message must
reach the audience. Today we are
being given drama which affects
us through shock, insult and so-
called black humor. At the same
time, the ugly abnormal under-
dogs are crucified and arise again
to cut down "the establishment."
Examples are Marat/Sade and
Dutchman. This attitude is also
treated, a little differently, in
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
The Penthouse (from a play by
C. Scott Forbes) is a film of this
type, where we start to feel un-
easy about the leation of the real
and the absurd in human beha-
Reminiscent of The Collector,
the story has a man and woman
imprisoned in their apartment
for most of a day by two eccen-
t-ic men. The intruders, Tom and
Dick (a female accomplice, Harry.
waits outside and appears only
toward the end of the movie),
spend most of the time in con-
versation with each other and
with the couple, Bruce and Bar-
bara. They bind Bruce. to a chair
with colored ribbons,, and enjoy
sex with -arbara after forcing
her into drunkenness. They
threaten Bruce with a knife and
hint that, the victims cannot be
left alive. But despite this omin-
ous setting, there is no great mood
of sensation or suspense in the
film. I don't mean. this to be a
drawback; rather, it suggests that
the writer and director may ac-
tually be after something else.
As sophisticated, sadistic as-
sailants, Tom and Dick are very
sensitive. Their slow, continuous
talk-much of it esoteric-their
movements in and out of shaows,
their compulsions and their sud-
den fits of apparent anger and
kindness compose a picture of ab-
normality, true. But some of their
remarks hit home and distort our
sense of normality. Althougn they
are rapists, they cannot bear the
fact that Bruce, married to some-
one else , and with two children,
sleeps with Barbara. Similarly,
they can't tolerate any "rude-
ness" or uncouth language. Per-
haps, as misfits, they can be easi-
ly psychoAnalyzed; still, the sig-
nificance is their contrast with
the supposedly normal people they
attack. Bruce and Barbara are
unbelievably passive through the
whole ordeal, and are consider-
ably unsympathetic to one an-
other. On the other hand, Tom,
Dick, and later, Harry, seem able
to manage their own relationship.
s areuctant prvate eye - his scee e eu W S':e Pa
pl gt pwhen
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Co-Starring JILL ST. JOHN - RICHARD CONE - ,E . GENA ROWLANDS SIMON OAKLAND
JEFFREY LYNN-LLOYD BOCHNER and SUE LYON =as Diana-Produced by Aaron Rosenberg
Directed by Gordon Douglas -Screenplay by Richard Breen A , Hear Nancy SinatraI
sing the title song!
RICHARD LESTER'S soldiers are real soldiers, not the glorified action movie-newsreel type. Does
this particular soldier know what he's getting into-and, then, what he's getting out of when the
shrapnel cuts open his abdomen?
THE MOVIE YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR IS HERE
"WW 11 WITHOUT ITS PANTS ON!"
"I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT 20 TIMES!"
-San Francisco Chronicle
"IT TRULY HURTS WHEN YOU LAUGH!"
-Stewart Klein, WNEW-TV
"DAZZLINGLY, EXPLOSIVELY FUNNY!"
-Time Magazine x
"BRILLIANT AND SCATHING!"
-Stanley Kauffman, New American Review
-Judith Crist, NBC-TV Today Show
"p hEfhMkF MI7T tAuft99
0 ' A _
Back by Popular Demand
"BONNIE and CLYDE"
ETRNNfiN-WILD SAT REU
LESTER CAN SHOW THAT WAR IS ABSURD, A BURLESQUE ROUTINE!-
--New York Daily News
"LEAVES YOU FEELING KICKED IN THE TEETH!"
-New York Times
thru Thurs., 7-9; Fri. and Sat., 1-3-5-7-9-11; Sun., 1-3-5-7-9
S. FIFTH AVE. Between Washington and [iberty-761-9700
on sale Wed., Feb. 21st
Buy it, Read it, Destroy it!
The following teaching positions
will be open for the 1968-69
school year in the Ottawa Hills
UNGRADED ELEMENTARY: Up-
per Primary, Lower Primary,
Upper Intermediate, Lower In-
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Applications may be secured by
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