An engaging comedy, scripted by William Peter Blatty, with Shawn as a keen young company commander eager to prove his valour in the Italian campaign of 1943. Disconcerted to discover that the Italian unit he is supposed to attack asks nothing better than to surrender, but insists that the village first be allowed to hold its annual wine festival, he is persuaded to agree by his more worldly-wise lieutenant (Coburn); and both armies duly get so drunk that, to save face, they decide to stage a mock battle. This, alas, is observed and taken seriously by both German and American troops, who prepare to intervene, and complications pile up until the whole thing gets wildly out of hand. Some of it is very funny, like the mock battle, with attempts at choreographed strategy ruined by tired combatants sneaking away for refreshment. Some of it (especially the volubly excitable Italian bits) are tiresome. But it is held together by terrific performances, Philip Lathrop's exquisite, pastel-shaded photography, and Blake Edwards' instinct for composition and design, let loose in some pleasantly fantastical images.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||William Peter Blatty|