Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 2nd, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1966
Director: Blake Edwards
Writers: William Peter Blatty, Blake Edwards, Maurice Richlin
Cast: James Coburn, Dick Shawn, Sergio Fantoni, Giovanna Ralli, Aldo Ray, Harry Morgan, Carroll O’Connor, Leon Askin
BluRay released: March 31st, 2015
Approximate running time: 116 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Olive Films
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? was co-written and directed by Blake Edwards who is most known for his collaborations with Peter Sellers, The Pink Panther series and The Party. Other notable films that he directed include, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Days of Wine and Roses. Key collaborators on What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? include cinematographer Philip H. Lathrop (Point Blank, The Driver), screenwriter William Peter Blatty (A Shot in the Dark, The Exorcist) and composer Henry Mancini (Charade, Two for The Road) who worked with Edward’s on more film’s than any other composer.
Like many film fans I first became aware of Blake Edwards because of this work on The Pink Panther film series. And over the years I dug deeper into his filmography and discovered that there was a lot more to legacy as a filmmaker then funny one liners and pratfalls. And though he showed he was more than capable of leaving the comedy genre for more serious territory like Days of Wine and Roses, which features an alcoholic protagonist who helps turn his wife into an alcoholic so they can share his passion. With that being said, there was a hint of humor in the majority of his films and when he was on, very few directors could capture comedy they he could onscreen.
The narrative for What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? revolves around Captain Lionel Cash, who has been given a very important task by his superior. Along the way he invades his target, a village in Italy and best of all the entire Italian military are willing to surrender! The terms of their surrender are simple, they want to have a party thrown in their honor and then the next morning they will surrender. With no other options, Captain Cash reluctantly agrees to the terms. Unfortunately even the best laid plans can end in disaster.
From there the bulk of the film is spent trying to cover up the fact that Captain Cash and his men never actually captured anyone. And when one of his superiors show up, they even lock him until they can figure out a way to get out the mess they created. The follies don’t end there as the Nazi’s eventually show up and all hell breaks loose. Still not deterred Captain Nash and his men try to come up with a plan to save the day.
This is truly on odd comedy set in the most unusual of settings world war II in Italy. Instead of fighting there is a lot of debauchery going on and at one point there is even a male character that dresses up as a woman whom a Nazi solider has become very fond off. In regards to the comedy in the film, the majority is built up around the situations which the characters get themselves into.
The cast are all enjoyable in their respective roles, with this film’s most memorable performance being Sergio Fantoni (Von Ryan’s Express, Bad Man’s River) in the role of Oppo, the Italian Captain who demands a party or no surrender! He is a man of few words with the strength of his performance lying in the gestures his character makes. Another standout performance is Dick Shawn (The Producers) in the role of Captain Cash. Also there are several recognizable faces in this cast like Carroll O’Connor (‘All in the Family’) in the role of an American general, James Coburn (Duck, You Sucker) I the role of a wisecracking Lieutenant, Aldo Ray (The Centerfold Girls) and Giovanna Ralli (Cold Eyes of Fear, What Have They Done to your Daughters?) providing so much needed eye candy in the role of Mayor’s daughter named Gina.
Leave it to a filmmaker like Blake Edwards to make a comedy about war and then have entire film spent avoiding said war. By the mid-1960’s Blake Edwards was on a roll as a filmmaker, especially in regards to films featuring slapstick comedy. And though this film features the many of the ingredients that had made Blake Edwards’s previous films leading up to this film box office successes. The end result is a mildly entertaining romp that ultimately lacks cohesion.
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, contrast and shadow detail look consistently strong throughout and details look crisp. Grain looks natural, print debris is minimal and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono English. The audio sounds stable and balanced throughout. Dialog comes through clearly and robust when it needs too. Range wise though things are rather limited at times, the end result is a strong effort that does a good job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack.
Extras for this release are limited to a trailer for the film (1 minute 53 seconds). Overall What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? gets a first rate audio / video presentation from Olive Films.
Note: Olive Films are also releasing this film on DVD.