John Lennon & Richard Lester Behind the Scenes of How I Won the War
How I Won the War is a black comedy film directed by Richard Lester, released in 1967. The film stars Michael Crawford as bungling British Army Officer Lieutenant Earnest Goodbody, with John Lennon... How I Won the War is a black comedy film directed by Richard Lester, released in 1967. The film stars Michael Crawford as bungling British Army Officer Lieutenant Earnest Goodbody, with John Lennon (Musketeer Gripweed), Jack MacGowran (Musketeer Juniper) Roy Kinnear (Musketeer Clapper) and Lee Montague (Sergeant Transom) as soldiers under his command. The film uses an inconsistent variety of styles — vignette, straighttocamera, and, extensively, parody of the war film genre, docu-drama, and popular war literature — to tell the story of 3rd Troop, the 4th Musketeers (a fictional regiment reminiscent of the Royal Fusiliers) and their misadventures in the Second World War. This is told in the comic/absurdist vein throughout, a central plot being the setting-up of an Advanced Area Cricket Pitch behind enemy lines in Tunisia, but it is all broadly based on the landings in North Africa in 1942 to the advance on the Rhine following Arnhem.
How I Won The War has never been critically well received, but its status as a curiosity — if only as John Lennons only nonBeatles film role — seems assured. Its collation of images and tableaux is darker and less structured than its anti-war contemporary Oh! What a Lovely War, the drama is not as terrifyingly unhinged as the later Catch-22, and it does not come across with the humane compassion of MASH. Though there are some memorable exchanges between characters, and fragments of battle scenes that carry a strangely disturbing ring of truth, the script is very largely composed of intentional nonsequiturs, mostly based on British Army slang, and this along with the ongoing barrage of textbook Brechtian estrangement techniques makes it perennially difficult to know what the film is aiming to do. Lester himself, acknowledging this, argued that most "anti-war" films still treat war in a rational manner, while he tried to disassemble it to the pure perversion of everything human he found it to be.
Continuing on the absurdist tone established in Help! and considering this film an artistic success, United Artists gave Richard Lester free rein to create his next film, the nuclear war satire The Bed-Sitting Room. The three films accidentally constitute a trilogy that has developed a cult audience since their initial releases between 1965-70.
The film was made on location in Spain in the autumn of 1966. It has been said "Strawberry Fields Forever" was written by Lennon on the set. The film's release was delayed by 6 months as Richard Lester went on to work on Petulia (1968), shortly after completing How I Won The War.
1957 - At the age of sixteen, John Lennon forms the Quarry Men with friends from his school, Quarry Bank Grammar.
July 6, 1957 - After meeting Paul McCartney during a Quarry Men performance at Woolton Parish Church fete, John invites him to join the band.
February 1958 - George Harrison joins the Quarry Men.
January 1960 - A friend of John's from Liverpool College of Art, Stu Sutcliffe is asked to join the group as the bass guitarist. The band decides to change its name to Silver Beatles.
August 1960 - Pete Best becomes the group's drummer. The group makes a final change to their name and are now known as simply the Beatles. They go on to play various venues in Hamburg including such clubs as Indra, Kaiserkeller, Top Ten and Star.
December 27, 1960 - The Beatles return to Liverpool and play at Litherland Town Hall. With their popularity becoming secure, they go on to play gigs North West of Britain for the next two years.
April 1961 - Stuart Sutcliffe decides to quit the Beatles.
November 1961 - Brian Epstein becomes the Beatles' manager. January 1, 1962 - The Beatles audition unsuccessfully for Decca Records in London.
April 10, 1962 - Stuart Sutcliffe dies of a cerebral hemorrhage.
June 6, 1962 - After auditioning for George Martin, a producer at EMI, he signs them. He goes to be their producer for their entire career.
August 16, 1962 - Pete Best is dismissed from the Beatles.
August 18, 1962 - Ringo Starr joins the band.
October 5, 1962 - "Love Me Do", the Beatles' first single, is released in the United Kingdom. It rises to #17 on the British charts.
January 11, 1963 - The Beatles' second single, "Please Please Me," is released in the U.K.. On February 22 it reaches number one on the British charts and stays there for two weeks.
February 11, 1963 - The Beatles record their first full album, "Please Please Me." The complete recording only took them one day.
March 22, 1963 - The album "Please Please Me" is released in the U.K. and becomes a huge success. It remains number one on the UK charts for 29 weeks.
July 12, 1963 - The album "Please Please Me" is released in the United States under the title of, "Introducing the Beatles".
October 1963 - Beatlemania spreads throughout Europe.
October 13, 1963 - Beatles appear on ITV's "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" which is televised to over 15 million viewers.
November 4, 1963 - Performing for the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon, the Beatles play at the Royal Command Performance. Before starting the song "Twist and Shout", John entertains the crowd with a comment, "Will the people in the cheaper seats clap their hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry."
November 22, 1963 - The Beatles release "With the Beatles" in the U.K., It reaches the number one spot on the British charts and stays there for 21 weeks.
November 29, 1963 - The single "I Want To Hold Your Hand" is released in the U.K. and immediately hits number one on the charts.
December 26 , 1963 - "I Want To Hold Your Hand" is released in the United States and spends seven weeks in the number one spot on the charts.
1964 - 66
January 20, 1964 - "Meet the Beatles" is released in the United States. It remains in the number one position on Billboard's chart for 11 weeks.
February 7, 1964 - The Beatles arrive in the United States.
February 9, 1964 - The Beatles perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show". According to the Nielsen ratings, they are watched by over 73 million people. During the show they perform five songs, "She Loves You," "I Saw Her Standing There," "All My Loving," "Till There Was You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand."
February 11, 1964 - The Beatles perform at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C.
February 12, 1964 - The Beatles perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
February 16, 1964 - The Beatles make their second appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." They perform "From Me to You," "This Boy," "All My Loving," "I Saw Her Standing There" and closed with "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
February 23, 1964 - The Beatles appear for the third time on "The Ed Sullivan Show," this time with a taped performance "Twist and Shout" and "Please Please Me" and closed the show once again with "I Want To Hold Your Hand".
March 2, 1964 - The Beatles begin filming their first film, "A Hard Day's Night." They take eight weeks to complete it.
March 31, 1964 - The Beatles hold the top five slots on Billboard's chart: (1) Can't Buy Me Love, (2) Twist and Shout, (3) She Loves You, (4) I Want To Hold Your Hand (5) Please Please Me.
April 4, 1964 - The Beatles hold 14 slots on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.
July 6, 1964 - "A Hard Day's Night" premieres in London.
July 10, 1964 - The album "A Hard Day's Night" is released in the United Kingdom. It shortly reaches number one on the charts. In August the album is released in the United States where it also reaches number one.
August 11, 1964 - "A Hard Day's Night" opens in America.
August 19, 1964 - The Beatles begin a USA/Canada tour with a concert at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California.
December 4, 1964 - The album "Beatles For Sale" is released in the U.K. and as with previous releases it hits number one.
February 23, 1965 - Shooting begins on the Beatles' second film, "Help!"
June 12, 1965 - The Beatles are named Members of the British Empire by the Queen, and in October they are presented with medals at Buckingham Palace.
July 29, 1965 - The Beatles second movie, "Help" opens in London.
August 6, 1965 - The album, "Help" is released in the U.K. and reaches number one both in the U.K. and the United States.
August 15, 1965 - The Beatles perform at New York's Shea Stadium. The concert grosses $304,000 U.S. dollars. The Beatles' share was $160,000.
December 3, 1965 - The album, "Rubber Soul" is released in the U.K. and reaches number one both in the U.K. and the United States.
August 5, 1966 - The album, "Revolver" is released in the U.K. and reaches number one both in the U.K. and the United States.
August 29, 1966 - The Beatles perform their last live concert, in San Francisco, California.
1967 - 70
June 1, 1967 - The album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is released in the U.K. and reaches number one both in the U.K. and the United States. It also receives four Grammy Awards including Best Album.
June 25, 1967 - The Beatles perform "All You Need is Love" in "Our World," a two-hour satellite television program transmitted live by satellite to five continents and 24 countries.
August 27, 1967 - Brian Epstein dies. The Beatles are told of his death while they are visiting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Bangor, Wales.
November 27, 1967 - The album, "Magical Mystery Tour" is released in the U.S. and hits number one. It is released in the U.K. eleven days later missing three of the songs found on the U.S. release.
December 26, 1967 - "Magical Mystery Tour," an hour-long television special airs in the U.K.
February 1968 - The Beatles spent a few weeks in Rishikesh, India, to attend a seminar hosted by Maharishi.
May 14, 1968 - John and Paul appear on "The Tonight Show" to announce that their new company, Apple.
July 17, 1968 - "Yellow Submarine" premieres in London. It opens in America several months later.
November 22, 1968 - The album, "The Beatles" (better known as the White Album) is released and reaches number one both in the U.K. and the United States.
January 13, 1969 - The soundtrack album, "Yellow Submarine" is released in the U.S. and reaches number two both in the U.K. and the United States. Number one is still held by the White Album.
January 30, 1969 - The Beatles perform together for the last time live on the roof of Apple's London office. The performance can be seen in the movie documentary "Let It Be."
September, 1969 - John decides to leave the Beatles, but he does not announce it publicly because of current contract negotiations with EMI.
September 26, 1969 - The Beatles last album, "Abbey Road" is released in the U.K. and reaches number one both in the U.K. and the United States.
April 10, 1970 - Paul announces that he has left the Beatles.
May 8, 1970 - The Beatles last album, "Let It Be" which unknown to many was recorded before "Abbey Road"
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