Well if you don’t know Spike Milligan you darn well should. Along with Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine, and Peter Sellers, Milligan wrote and performed in the BBC seminal radio show The Goon Show which fostered Beyond The Fringe, Cook and Moore and of course Monty Python. Milligan is pretty much universally acknowledged The Father of Modern British Comedy.
That said this 1972 adaptation of his war memoirs is less than satisfying. Milligan was actually in the war and was wounded during the Battle of Monte Cassino in the Italian campaign. The book itself is a jumble of anecdotes, actual letters, and Milligan’s own narrative. It is a bittersweet absurdist view of war and the military. Milligan claims every word was true. This film unfortunately suffers from that smug self-consciousness which afflicted most films of 1972; What’s Up, Doc?, The Thing With Two Heads, Butterflies Are Free, etc.
The film is vaguely amusing but that’s all. The only aspects recommending it are Milligan playing his own father in the flick, and maybe if you can glean the humor through the heavy handed direction it will intrigue you enough to read the book: Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, Volume One.
Available On Demand.
Directed by: Norman Cohen
Starring: Jim Dale, Arthur Lowe, Bill Maynard, Geoffrey Hughes, Windsor Davies
Screenplay by: Johnny Byrne In Collaboration With Norman Cohen