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Hannibal Brooks on DVD

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 08:35

Hannibal Brooks - out now on DVDOliver Reed (“Gladiator”, “Oliver!”) stars in this unusual World War II movie about a British soldier’s mission to escort an elephant from a zoo in Munich to Innsbruck in neighbouring Austria. The plan is to take a train but then a German officer commandeers their carriage and Brooks is forced to go on foot, with an attractive Polish cook and two guards for company. Michael Winner of “Death Wish” fame directs.

There is a bit of everything in this film – action, comedy, romance, suspense and at the centre of it all is Lucy the elephant, who acts as both a hindrance and a vital aid when events take a perilous turn. Reluctant soldier Hannibal (Reed) crosses paths time and again with an American POW called Packy (Michael J. Pollard – “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Scrooged”) and his growing guerrilla army, leading to some nervous exchanges.

“Hannibal Brooks” is tremendous fun and it has a heart of gold. Hannibal is magnetic, physical and obstinate; once he has built a rapport with Lucy he will go to practically any length to get the elephant to safety, repeatedly putting his own life on the line.

The journey will not be a walk in the park as whilst one of the German guards (Helmuth Lohner – “Widower with 5 Daughters”) is kind and understanding, the other (Peter Carsten – “The Quiller Memorandum”) is an unsympathetic, drunken womaniser who has orders to shoot the creature if it steps out of line. The vulnerable cook (Karin Baal – “Lola”) adds to Hannibal’s list of concerns.

There is plenty of traditional war film action, with suspenseful shootouts and explosions galore. The stunt work is very impressive, even if polystyrene logs and boulders are slightly overused!

Winner and Tom Wright came up with the story (partially based on reality), and the renowned duo of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (Porridge, The Likely Lads) wrote the screenplay. It is no wonder that the banter and characterisation are so bubbly and witty.

The film also serves as an attractive travelogue, with scene after scene featuring the characters in quite beautiful, Bavarian and Alpine surroundings. We also encounter many towns and villages with the locals in traditional dress and partaking in colourful festivals (an element that feels strangely at odds with the war raging on around them).

This movie will appeal to fans of war films, especially those on the lighter end of the spectrum like “Kelly’s Heroes”. The story is entertaining and features thrilling adventure from start to finish.

Special features include:

  • Trailer
  • Featurette: “A new kind of hero”

The trailer features audio from the featurette, which is essentially Pollard horsing around. If we learn anything from the actor it is that one’s choice of hat is of paramount importance. The DVD has very good picture quality, doing a fair job of depicting the beautiful mountains and valleys

“Hannibal Brooks” (1969) is out now on DVD, courtesy of Fabulous Films. The main feature has a running time of 102 minutes approx, carries a ‘12’ certificate and retails for £14.99, or less from