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Based on a true story about a WW1 veteran Sargeant King (Kenneth Cranham) and a young Private Cuthbertson (Leo Bill) during WW2 who are turned down for active service - but decide to invade France on their own mission to blow up a couple of German ships at Brest. They even drop a note to Prime Minister Winston Churchill to keep him in the loop. They hit their first snag just trying to 'escape' England. Once they arrive in France in their stolen boat, the place is deserted. No Germans. So they concoct a new plan, using their dental training and ingenuity, and stumble into a couple of adventures. This time they stir up the Third Reich, but manage to get safely back to England, only to face a court marshal as deserters.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Beautifully lit and shot, nicely underplayed and filled with evocative 40s tunes (and other fine, fitting music), Two Men Went To War is an enjoyable, amusing and unpretentious film about a couple of English eccentrics - dentists whose eccentricity is not evident until their actions gave them away. Perhaps the best thing about the film is it's wonderful, lightheartedly humorous tone: it manages humour and drama simultaenously. We can laugh at the same time as take it seriously. Director John Henderson does a stirling job with a well crafted screenplay and a solid cast, especially the odd couple at the centre if the story.

Kenneth Cranham delivers a wonderfully observed Sargeant King, looking like a rounded Stalin with the sensibilities of a suburban Londoner. Leo Bill's young Private Cuthbertson is a notable contrast in every sense, and the dialogue between them is both true to character and amusing.

These are not your regular war movie heroes: they don't think, feel or act like heroes. More like bumbling dentists with full battle kits and only the vaguest idea of the danger they are in. But director Henderson never pokes fun at them, taking us along for a very English ride in which the extraordinary is turned into the ordinary and the everyday.

The basic story is padded out with a couple of subplots, ranging from a fleeting romance to the history of the letter to Churchill - and it's impact on the outcome of their escapade. But in between, there are also revelations about the men and some humorous near-miss incidents.

Much more satisfying than the story at first glance might suggest, thanks to good writing, directing and acting, Two Men Went To War is a satisfying drama with plenty of smiles and an up ending.

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CAST: Kenneth Cranham, Leo Bill, David Ryall, Derek Jacobi, Rosanna Lavelle, Julian Glover

PRODUCER: Ira Trattner, Pat Harding

DIRECTOR: John Henderson

SCRIPT: Richard Everett, Christopher Villiers (book by Raymond Foxall)


EDITOR: David Yardley

MUSIC: Richard Harvey

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sophie Becher, Steve Carter

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Adelaide: June 17, 2004: other states July 29, 2004

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