Directed by Richard Attenborough • 1969 • United Kingdom
Starring Maggie Smith, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Olivier
The generation-decimating tragedy of World War I is envisioned as a sprawling, bitterly ironic music-hall spectacle in Richard Attenborough’s kaleidoscopic adaptation of Charles Chilton’s play, as staged by Joan Littlewood in her legendary London production. Deploying popular, morale-boosting songs of the day to stingingly subversive effect, OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR views the conflict from the perspective of the patriotic Smith family, whose dutiful sons march off to fight on the frontlines only to discover that the reality of war is far from the grand adventure they were promised. The staggering all-star cast features a who’s who of British acting royalty, including Maggie Smith, Dirk Bogarde, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave, and many others.