What Did You Do In The War Daddy? Blake Edwards

There was once a time when you could take Blake Edwards seriously. Not only did he have a reputation for sparkling wit but he hadn’t yet sullied it with endless dips into the Pink Panther series. But this typical entry to his oeuvre hasn’t aged well and looks unfunny and self-congratulatory to contemporary eyes. Dick Shawn is a by-the-book WWII army Captain called upon to capture an Italian village, one that refuses to surrender until it’s had a yearly festival. Malcontent underling James Coburn advises him to comply but the resulting drunken frenzy leaves them in a sensitive position when the commanding officers arrive the next day. Soon the pair are staging battles in order to save their necks, which works fine until the powers-that-be decide to escalate things. The premise ought to be a gimmie for an acid black farce but Edwards is more interested in a "classy” kind of evening out that looks positively archaic now. He and screenwriter William Peter Blatty load the movie up with crassly risqué gags that depend on you being vaguely square to find hilarious; they also rely on that once-common tactic of using a hot European starlet (in this case, Giovanna Ralli) for disposable sex interest and residual "outrageousness.” Bad enough that there isn’t a single good line in the whole thing but the film is so hugely self-conscious of its mild provocations that it rubs your face in them to the point of your resentment. The funniest thing about it is that Blatty would go on to write The Exorcist, an amazing about-face from this harmless, formless mush. (MGM)