Cast & Crew
In the World War II Allied invasion of Sicily, a battle-weary American company is assigned to capture a small village. Led by Captain Cash, a "by-the-book" West Point graduate, the company finds that its advance is interrupting a soccer game. The Americans have long been expected, however, and Captain Oppo, the Italian officer responsible for the village, explains that he is perfectly willing to surrender--with honor. In other words, the soccer game must be allowed to finish and the annual wine festival must be held before the town will yield to the occupying forces. Captain Cash has some misgivings about the unorthodox arrangement, but his second in command, Lieutenant Christian, persuades him to acquiesce. Italians and Americans join for an all-day, all-night orgy of drunken revelry and lovemaking. Reconnaissance planes from both U. S. and German headquarters mistake the frolicking in the streets for resistance fighting, and the Nazis decide to aid their Italian allies. When they arrive, however, they find the American flag unfurled above the village and American soldiers, in all manner of dress including German uniforms, holding the town. U. S. forces also arrive to rescue what they believe to be a battalion of battle-fatigued GI's; but by popping in and out of the catacombs under the town, Cash's company captures the whole of the German unit. A victory celebration is in order.
Emily La Rue
Ken Del Conte
Joe Lo Presti
William Peter Blatty
Charles Scott Jr.
Ralph E. Winters
Allen K. Wood
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?
After banging out a treatment with his Pink Panther (1963) scenarist Maurice Richlin, Edwards left the task of scripting to William Peter Blatty, with whom he had adapted Harry Kurnitz's murder mystery spoof A Shot in the Dark (the Broadway hit was itself based on Marcel Achard's 1962 stage play L'idiot) as The Pink Panther's 1964 sequel. The back-to-back successes of those two "Inspector Clouseau" had afforded Edwards a considerable amount of latitude in Hollywood but industry credibility had been a long time coming. Born William Blake McEdwards in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1922, Edwards was a third generation filmmaker, whose grandfather was silent movie director J. Gordon Edwards and his father studio production manager Jack McEdwards. Edwards had begun in movies as an actor, mostly unbilled (as in The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946), before switching to screenwriting in 1948. It was in radio that Edwards enjoyed his first real success and on television that he became a household name, thanks to the popularity of his series Peter Gunn (1958-1960) and Mr. Lucky (1959-1960).
Returning to films as a director-to-watch, Edwards scored with the bittersweet Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), the steely Experiment in Terror (1962) and the sober-sided Days of Wine and Roses (1962). He shot his next three films abroad but, after the exhausting The Great Race (1965), whose box office returns had not entirely justified the expense, Edwards elected to helm What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? closer to home. (Between productions, the director was briefly attached, according to the trade papers of the day, to 20th Century Fox's Planet of the Apes, which would go unmade for three more years before Franklin J. Schaffner brought the property to the big screen in 1968.)
Captaining a large speaking cast and hundreds of extras, Edwards set up camp for What Did You Do... at Lake Sherwood Ranch in Thousand Hills, forty miles northwest of Hollywood. In what had been a cow pasture, designer Fernando Carrere fabricated a storybook Sicilian village, a perfect replica down to the minutest detail, which added $800,000 to the production's already elevated $5.5 million budget. Where Edwards planned to save money was in casting and so he populated his fictional "Valerno" with jobbing actors, few of whom at the time enjoyed name recognition. Star James Coburn had previously contributed alternatively gritty and charming support to such films as The Magnificent Seven (1960), Charade (1963) and Major Dundee (1965) but was only then breaking ahead with lead roles; Dick Shawn was a well-regarded stage comic with only a few films roles (among them, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World, 1963) to his credit while Aldo Ray had hit career doldrums after the early promise of Pat and Mike (1952), Battle Cry (1955) and The Naked and the Dead (1958). In the trades, Edwards defended his "non-star studded picture," claiming that Blatty's script was so exceptional that name actors weren't necessary.
Although the characteristically arch New Yorker gave What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? an unparalleled rave and Film Daily proclaimed it "a rollicking good time," the critical consensus was that Edwards' service farce was a "one-joke comedy" in questionable taste. While The Mirisch Corporation had high hopes and booked the film into Grauman's Chinese for a two-month run in the summer of 1966, box office receipts were disappointing. In its July 26, 1966 edition, Variety called the producers on some creative bookkeeping, noting that actual returns were well below those reported. Slated to run through August, the film was bumped prior to its final week to make way for Fox's inner space sci-fi spectacle Fantastic Voyage (1966).
Blake Edwards' career suffered a subsequent decade-long slump, which he was finally able to turn around by making a second sequel to The Pink Panther, The Return of the Pink Panther (1975). The filmmaker went from strength to strength through the mid-80s with such box office winners as 10 (1979), S.O.B. (1981) and the war-time cross-dressing comedy Victor/Victoria (1982), starring his second wife, Julie Andrews. The popularity of that film led to a Broadway reinterpretation in 1995, again starring Andrews and directed by Edwards, which ran for two years at the Marquis Theater. As for the mostly forgotten What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, the film found a belated champion in critic Dave Kehr, who heralded it as a "mordant little marvel" at the time of its 2008 DVD debut.
Producer: Blake Edwards
Director: Blake Edwards
Screenplay: William Peter Blatty; Blake Edwards, Maurice Richlin (story)
Cinematography: Philip Lathrop
Art Direction: Fernando Carrere
Music: Henry Mancini
Film Editing: Ralph E. Winters
Cast: James Coburn (Lieutenant Christian), Dick Shawn (Captain Lionel Cash), Sergio Fantoni (Captain Oppo), Giovanna Ralli (Gina Romano), Aldo Ray (Sergeant Rizzo), Harry Morgan (Major Pott), Carroll O'Connor (General Bolt), Leon Askin (Colonel Kastorp), Henry Rico Cattani (Benedetto), Jay Novello (Mayor Romano), Vito Scotti (Frederico).
by Richard Harland Smith
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? production notes
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? film program
The New Yorker
The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?
Leon Askin (1907-2005)
Born in Vienna, Austria as Leo Aschkenasy on September 18, 1907, Askin developed a taste for theater through his mother's love of cabaret, and as a youngster, often accompanied his mother to weekend productions.
He made a go of acting as a profession in 1925, when he took drama classes from Hans Thimig, a noted Austrian stage actor at the time. The following year, he made his Vienna stage debut in Rolf Lauckner's "Schrei aus der Strasse."
For the next six year (1927-33), he was a popular stage actor in both Vienna and Berlin before he was prevented to work on the stage by Hitler's SA for being a Jew. He left for Paris in 1935 to escape anti-semetic persecution, but returned to Vienna in 1935, to find work (albeit a much lower profile to escape scrutiny), but after a few years, the writing was on the wall, and he escaped to New York City in 1939, just at the outbreak of World War II. His luck in the Big Apple wasn't really happening, and in 1941, he relocated to Washington D.C. and briefly held the position of managing director of the Civic Theatre, a popular city venue of the day. Unfortunately, after the tragic events of Pearl Harbor in December of that year, the United States became involved in the war that had already engulfed Europe for two years, and seeing a possibility to expediate his application for American citizenship, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
After the war, Leon indeed became a U.S. citizen and changed his name from Leon Aschkenasy to Leon Askin. He returned to New York and found work as a drama teacher, and more importantly, landed his first gig on Broadway, as director and actor in Goethe's Faust in 1947, which starred Askin in the title character opposite the legendary Albert Bassermann who played Mephisto. The production was a huge success. Askin followed this up with another director/actor stint with Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and co-starred with Jose Ferrer in Ben Hecht's 20th Century. They were all Broadway hits, and Askin had finally achieved the success he had worked so hard to seek and merit.
It wasn't long before Hollywood came calling, and soon Askin, with his rich German accent and massive physical presence, made a very effective villian in a number of Hollywood films: the Hope-Crosby comedy Road to Bali (1952); Richard Burton's first hit film The Robe; and the Danny Kaye vehicle Knock on Wood (1954).
Askin's roles throughout the 50's were pretty much in this "menacing figure" vein, so little did anyone suspect that around the corner, Billy Wilder would be offering him his most memorable screen role - that of the Russian commissar Peripetschikof who gleefully embraces Amercian Capitalism in the scintillating politcal satire, One, Two, Three (1961). Who can forget this wonderfully exchange between Peripetschikof and Coca Cola executive C.R. MacNamara (James Cagney):
Peripetschikof: I have a great idea to make money. I have a storage full of saurkraut and I'll sell it as Christmas tree tinsil!
MacNamara: You're a cinch!
His performance for Wilder was wonderfully comedic and wholly memorable, and after One, Two, Three the film roles for Askin got noticable better, especially in Lulu and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (both 1962); but he began to find prominent guest shots on hit television shows too: My Favorite Martian and The Outer Limits to name a few; yet his big break came in 1965, when for six seasons he played General Albert Burkhalter, the Nazi general who was forever taking Col. Kilink's ineptitude to task in Hogan's Heroes (1965-71).
Roles dried up for Askin after the run of Hogan's Heroes, save for the occassional guest spot on television: Diff'rent Strokes, Three's Company, Happy Days; and parts in forgettable comedies: Going Ape! (1981), Airplane II: The Sequel (1982). After years of seclusion, Askin relocated to his birthplace of Vienna in 1994, and he began taking parts in numerous stage productions almost to his death. In 2002, he received the highest national award for an Austrian citizen when he was bestowed with the Austrian Cross of Honor, First Class, for Science and Art. He is survived by his third wife of three years, Anita Wicher.
by Michael T. Toole
Leon Askin (1907-2005)
TCM Remembers - Carroll O'Connor
Carroll O'Connor - who died June 21st at the age of 76 - will be best remembered for portraying Archie Bunker on TV's All in the Family but his career actually was much more extensive. Born in New York on August 2nd, 1924, O'Connor served in the merchant marine during World War II before attending the University of Montana where he worked on the school newspaper. Before graduating, he followed his brother to another college in Ireland (he would later get a Masters in speech from Montana). It was in Ireland that O'Connor started acting in several local productions. He returned to the U.S. for his Broadway debut in 1958 and shortly after started to appear on numerous TV shows like The Untouchables and Naked City. His first film was Parrish (1961) though he eventually acted in over a dozen films during the Sixties including Cleopatra (1963), Marlowe (1969), Hawaii (1966) and Point Blank (1967). O'Connor even auditioned for the part of the Skipper in the TV series, Gilligan's Island, but it was his role as Archie Bunker in a 1971 sitcom that made him a star. All in the Family was an American version of the British sitcom Till Death Do Us Part that met some initial resistance (ABC rejected the first two pilots) but quickly captivated American audiences and became the country's top-rated TV show. Archie became such an icon that his chair is now preserved in the Smithsonian. The series lasted until 1979 and brought O'Connor four Emmys, even leading to a four-year spinoff Archie Bunker's Place starring O'Connor. (It also produced one of TV's oddest spinoffs in1994's 704 Hauser about a multi-racial family living in Archie Bunker's old house. It had no cast members from the earlier series and only lasted six episodes.) In 1988, O'Connor took the role of a Southern sheriff in a TV series based on the movie In the Heat of the Night and found himself in another hit, this one lasting until 1995. He also occasionally played Helen Hunt's father on Mad About You. By all accounts, O'Connor was nothing like Archie Bunker; in fact, O'Connor was an active anti-drug crusader, partly the result of his son's drug-related suicide.
By Lang Thompson
TCM REMEMBERS JACK LEMMON 1925-2001
Whether playing a cross-dressing jazz bassist or a bickering roommate, Lemmon has kept his fans in stitches for fifty years. But beneath that comedian's facade, the actor had a very serious side, which occasionally surfaced in such films as Days of Wine and Roses (1962) or Costa-Gavras' political thriller Missing (1982). Lemmon was truly a one-of-a-kind actor and his track record for acclaimed performances is truly remarkable: 8 Oscar nominations (he won Best Supporting Actor for Mister Roberts (1955) and Best Actor for Save the Tiger (1973), a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, 8 British Academy Award nominations, 4 Emmy Award nominations, numerous Golden Globe nominations, a two-time Best Actor winner at the Cannes Film Festival, the list goes on and on.
Lemmon entered the world in a completely novel fashion; he was born prematurely in an elevator in Boston in 1925. The son of a doughnut manufacturer, Lemmon later attended Harvard University but was bitten by the acting bug and left the prestigious college for Broadway. Between theatrical gigs, he played piano accompaniment to silent films shown at the Knickerbocker Music Hall in New York. Later, Lemmon claimed that he learned more about comic technique by watching these Chaplin, Keaton and Harold Lloyd two-reelers than acting school could have ever taught him.
From Broadway and early TV appearances to Hollywood, Lemmon moved West to make his screen debut in It Should Happen to You (1954), opposite Judy Holliday in a variation of her 'dumb blonde' persona that had won her an Oscar for Born Yesterday (1952). In It Should Happen to You, Holliday plays a struggling actress who soon wins fast fame as the product of promotion. Lemmon plays her levelheaded boyfriend but finds himself on the sidelines when the suave and sophisticated Peter Lawford appears on the scene. It Should Happen to You, directed by George Cukor, was a popular success and Lemmon and Holliday were quickly teamed again in Phffft! (1954), another lightweight romantic comedy. A year later, Lemmon hit the major leagues when he supported Hollywood heavyweights Henry Fonda, James Cagney and William Powell in Mister Roberts (1955). As Ensign Pulver, a deckhand who avoids work whenever possible, Lemmon won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar®.
Onscreen, Lemmon's characters often found that they were the wrong men for their jobs. In Cowboy (1958), Lemmon plays a city slicker venturing out on the wild frontier. His romantic visions of the West are soon changed by the hard-living, hard-drinking reality. Cowboy is based on the autobiography of Frank Harris, and, like the author, Lemmon found himself adapting to the rough and tumble lifestyle on the trail.
Lemmon brought a new comic persona to Hollywood films. He combined elements of screwball and slapstick comedy with his own self-deprecating humor to create satiric portraits of the contemporary American male. The sometimes cynical comic sense of director Billy Wilder provided Lemmon with the perfect complement. Together they made seven films, but it was their first, Some Like It Hot (1959), that captured the sheer comic genius of their collaborations together.
From sexual antics to social critique, Lemmon and Wilder sharpened their comic knives on the hypocrisies they saw in American culture. The Apartment (1960) focused on a working stiff who lends his home to his supervisors for their extramarital affairs. Problems arise when Lemmon falls for his boss's paramour - it gets even more complicated when she tries to kill herself in his pad! Though The Apartment was a comic success, with each passing year the film's serious side seems even more dark and derisive. Illicit love and the corruption of big business might not seem to be the stuff of hit comedies, but Wilder and Lemmon found humor in the most unlikeliest of places. Director and comic star went on to make five more films: Irma la Douce (1963), The Fortune Cookie (1966), Avanti! (1972), The Front Page (1974) and Buddy Buddy (1981).
Billy Wilder and Lemmon's lifelong comic foil Walter Matthau (nine collaborations with Lemmon in 32 years, including their most popular film, The Odd Couple, 1968) brought some of the comedian's finest funny moments to the screen. But there was a serious side too. Lemmon waived his salary to act in Save the Tiger (1973), the 'great American tragedy' of a businessman at the end of his rope. Lemmon won his second Academy Award for the film. In Missing (1982), directed by the uncompromising Costa-Gavras, Lemmon played a patriotic father searching for his kidnapped son in Latin America. The closer he gets to his goal, the clearer it becomes that a government conspiracy is behind his son's disappearance. Missing was inspired by a true story - the production was condemned by the Reagan administration and awarded the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival.
Very few actors today can match Lemmon's range on the screen. He has acted in everything from lightweight sex farces (How to Murder Your Wife, 1965) to musicals (My Sister Eileen, 1955) to social dramas (Days of Wine and Roses, 1962) to political thrillers (The China Syndrome, 1979). Turner Classic Movies cherishes the memory of this remarkable talent.
By Cino Niles & Jeff Stafford
ANTHONY QUINN, 1915-2001
Not many actors can boast that they've inspired a Bob Dylan song but Anthony Quinn - who passed away June 3rd at the age of 86 - was one of the select few. But that's just one of many incidents in a life that can only be described as colorful. If a novelist had invented a character like Quinn, she would be accused of unbelievable invention. But in Quinn's case, it's all true.
Quinn was born April 21, 1915 in Mexico. His parents were involved in Pancho Villa's revolutionary struggle and must have made a striking couple since the father was half Irish and mother Mexican Indian. The couple were married on a train of rebel soldiers. After Quinn's birth, the family soon moved to East Los Angeles (after a quick Texas detour) where Quinn grew up in the shadow of Hollywood. (A branch of the Los Angeles County Public Library now occupies the site of Quinn's childhood home; in 1981 it was renamed in his honor.) At the age of 11 he won a sculpture award and shortly after began studying architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright. It was Wright in fact who suggested the possibility of acting to Quinn and even paid for an operation to cure a speech impediment. Along the way, Quinn also dabbled in professional boxing (he quit after his 17th match, the first he lost) and street-corner preaching. He continued to sculpt and paint for the rest of his life while also becoming a noted art collector.
Quinn's acting debut was in 1936 initially in a handful of barely noticable spots as an extra until he landed a speaking role in Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman, supposedly on the recommendation of the film's star, Gary Cooper. One unanticipated result was that Quinn married DeMille's daughter the following year; they appeared together in Phil Karlson's Black Gold (1947) and had five children. Quinn also appeared on stage in 1936 playing opposite Mae West. Quinn continued in film parts that gathered acclaim: Crazy Horse in They Died With Their Boots On (1941), a gambler in The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), a soldier in Guadalcanal Diary (1943).
But it was the 1950s when Quinn broke out. Viva Zapata!(1952) provided him a wonderful role which he used to win a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. Oddly enough, in Viva Zapata! Quinn worked with Marlon Brando who he had replaced in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. (Director Elia Kazan tried to start a rivalry between the two actors but they were great admirers of each other.) Quinn again won Best Supporting Actor playing painter Paul Gauguin Lust for Life (1956) which at the time was the shortest on-screen time to win an acting Oscar. The following year came was a Best Actor nomination for George Cukor's Wild Is the Wind (1957). As he did throughout his career, Quinn rarely hesitated to take work whereever he found it, which resulted in dozens of potboilers like Seven Cities of Gold (1955) but also a few cult favorites like Budd Boetticher's The Magnificent Matador (1955). It was a trip to Italy that brought Quinn one of his most acclaimed roles: a simple-minded circus strongman in Federico Fellini's La Strada (1954). Quinn directed his only film in 1958, The Buccaneer, a commercial failure he later attributed to producer Cecil DeMille's interference. Towards the end of that decade he appeared in Nicholas Ray's The Savage Innocents (1959) as an Eskimo, inspiring Bob Dylan to write "Quinn the Eskimo" (a Top Ten hit for Manfred Mann in 1968). In 1965, his relationship with an Italian costumer created a minor scandal when it was revealed that the couple had two children. Quinn divorced DeMille's daughter and married the costumer.
He continued the same mix of classics and best-forgotten quickies throughout the 1960s and '70s. A key role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) only confirmed his talents while he again earned a Best Actor nomination for the unforgettable lead role in Zorba the Greek (1964). The gritty crime drama Across 110th Street (1972) is one of the best American movies of its decade, enhanced by Quinn's turn as an embattled police captain. Quinn was a pope in The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), an Islamic leader in The Message (1976), a thinly disguised Aristotle Onassis in The Greek Tycoon (1978) and an assortment of gangsters, con men, military leaders and what have you. The rest of his career might be summed up by the year 1991 when he gathered critical acclaim for his appearance in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, was nominated for a Razzie as Worst Actor in Mobsters, co-starred with Bo Derek in Ghosts Can't Do It, worked beside John Candy and Macaulay Culkin in Chris Columbus' Only the Lonely and made a film so obscure it appears to have never appeared on video. Quinn married his third wife in 1997; they had one son. He had just completed the title role in Avenging Angelo (with Sylvester Stallone) at the time of his death.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Carroll O'Connor
Copyright length: 116 min.
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1966
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1966