Oh! What a Lovely War

Starring  Dirk Bogarde, John Gielgud, Michael Redgrave, Maggie Smith and Susannah York
Screenplay by Len Deighton based on the radio play by Charles Chilton
Directed by Richard Attenborough
Running time 138 minutes
United Kingdom 1969


The First World War began almost exactly  century ago on the 28th July 1914 - the culmination of a series of events beginning with the assassination of  Archduke Ferdinand  in Sarajevo.

It was a new and terrible kind of war in which tens of millions were killed, wounded or missing in action. Although known as 'The War To End All Wars' only 21 years after the armistice was signed in 1918 the world was once again at war…

Richard Attenborough’s extraordinary film uses the music and songs of the period to summarise and comment on the conflict. Ironic, funny,  tragic and acute - this vivid and often savage satire features a host of British acting legends and Brighton’s famous West Pier as a setting for the action.

OWALW originated as a radio play by Charles Chilton which was subsequently transformed  for the stage by Joan Littlewood - the brilliant left-wing theatre director whose workshop in Stratford was responsible for revolutionising theatre in Britain after the war.

Although commenting on the events of 1914-18 both the play and the film clearly spring from the anti-war movement so prevalent during the 1960s.

This was Attenborough’s first film as director and remains perhaps his finest  - a uniquely British picture which is daring, uncompromising and without doubt one of the finest anti-war movies in all cinema.