As the Empire blew away on the winds of change, a spate of films celebrating Britain's heroic achievements in WWII attracted huge box-office success. Bond producer Cubby Broccoli proved adept at finding the right formula: pipe-smoking humanitarian Ferrer battles it out with embittered disciplinarian Howard while tough sergeant-major Maddern licks the bunch of good-for-nothing 'volunteers' into a crack fighting force for a glorious Technicolor finale (breaking the blockade of Bordeaux by limpet-mining German battleships). Fortunately there's more. Ferrer directs with a freshness of vision which cuts through the usual coy clichés, and Howard's magnificently bad-tempered performance lifts the film a degree beyond jingoistic flag-waving.
Cast and crew
Bryan Forbes, Richard Maibaum
José Ferrer Peter Arne Trevor Howard Christopher Lee Dora Bryan Anthony Newley David Lodge Victor Maddern