Murphy's War (1971)

GP | 106 or 108 mins | Drama | July 1971

Director:

Peter Yates

Producer:

Michael Deeley

Cinematographer:

Douglas Slocombe

Production Designer:

Disley Jones

Production Companies:

London Screenplays, Ltd., Michael Deeley-Peter Yates Films, Ltd., Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Although the onscreen credits include a 1971 copyright statement for Michael Deeley-Peter Yates Films, Ltd., the film was not registered at the time of its release. On 30 Jan 1990, the company registered the film under copyright number PA-490-129. The closing credits include the following written statements: "We wish to thank the government of Venezuela, the Venezuelan Navy and Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana for their co-operation during the making of this film" and "Original radio announcements by courtesy of N.B.C. Radio."
       In Jan 1969, just months before the publication of Max Catto’s novel, Murphy’s War , a DV news item reported that Buzz Kulik had bought the film rights for his company, Jeni Productions. By the following month, however, HR announced that Paramount has purchased the novel. Publishers Weekly put the purchasing price “in the neighborhood of $100,000.” As noted in a Feb 1970 DV article, the film was co-produced by Michael Deeley-Peter Yates Films, Dimitri de Grunwald’s London Screenplays and Paramount, with distribution to be handled by Paramount in the U.S. and Canada and everywhere else by de Grunwald’s distribution company, International Film Consortium.
       As noted onscreen, the film was shot in Venezuela as well at England's Pinewood and Twickenham Film Studios. According to Filmfacts , some additional scenes were shot on Malta. Co-stars Peter O’Toole and Sian Phillips were married at the time of the production. According to the DV review, O’Toole performed many of his own ... More Less

Although the onscreen credits include a 1971 copyright statement for Michael Deeley-Peter Yates Films, Ltd., the film was not registered at the time of its release. On 30 Jan 1990, the company registered the film under copyright number PA-490-129. The closing credits include the following written statements: "We wish to thank the government of Venezuela, the Venezuelan Navy and Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana for their co-operation during the making of this film" and "Original radio announcements by courtesy of N.B.C. Radio."
       In Jan 1969, just months before the publication of Max Catto’s novel, Murphy’s War , a DV news item reported that Buzz Kulik had bought the film rights for his company, Jeni Productions. By the following month, however, HR announced that Paramount has purchased the novel. Publishers Weekly put the purchasing price “in the neighborhood of $100,000.” As noted in a Feb 1970 DV article, the film was co-produced by Michael Deeley-Peter Yates Films, Dimitri de Grunwald’s London Screenplays and Paramount, with distribution to be handled by Paramount in the U.S. and Canada and everywhere else by de Grunwald’s distribution company, International Film Consortium.
       As noted onscreen, the film was shot in Venezuela as well at England's Pinewood and Twickenham Film Studios. According to Filmfacts , some additional scenes were shot on Malta. Co-stars Peter O’Toole and Sian Phillips were married at the time of the production. According to the DV review, O’Toole performed many of his own stunts. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Jul 1967.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jan 1969.
---
Daily Variety
2 Feb 1970.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jan 1971
p. 3.
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 222-25.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1969.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 1969.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 1971
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
7 Jul 1971.
---
New York Times
2 Jul 1971
p. 26.
Publishers Weekly
24 Feb 1969.
---
The Exhibitor
25 Feb 1970.
---
Time
26 Jul 1971.
---
Variety
27 Jan 1971
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Dimitri de Grunwald Presentation; A Yates-Deeley Production
A Yates-Deeley Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Aerial photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Const mgr
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward
MUSIC
Mus themes and supv
Addl mus comp and cond
SOUND
Dubbing mixer
Sd ed
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Helicopter pilot
Aircraft and aerial seq
Aircraft and aerial seq
Prod supv
Prod mgr
Loc mgr
Cont
STAND INS
Stunt arr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Murphy's War by Max Catto (New York, 1969).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"My Hat's on the Side of My Head," words and music by Harry Woods and Claude Hurlburt.
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1971
Premiere Information:
London opening: mid-January 1971
Los Angeles opening: 7 July 1971
Production Date:
23 February--July 1970 at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath and Twickenham Film Studios, Middlesex, England
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Lenses/Prints
Film processed by Rank Film Laboratories
Duration(in mins):
106 or 108
MPAA Rating:
GP
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Near the end of World War II, a British merchant ship is sunk off the coast of Venezuela by a German U-boat commanded by Captain Lauchs. As the sailors fight to stay afloat, the Germans brutally machine-gun each one, watched with horror by the lone, hidden survivor, Irish aviation mechanic Murphy. Days later, the wounded Murphy is rescued at sea by Frenchman Louis Brezan, who pilots a barge on the Orinoco River. Brezan takes Murphy to Dr. Hayden, a refined Quaker missionary who runs a makeshift hospital off the river. Although the crude Murphy insists that his ship was attacked by Germans, Hayden disbelieves that the enemy would bother with their rural area. Under Hayden’s care, Murphy soon recovers, and upon visiting Louis to thank him, the two become fast friends. When Murphy uses Louis’ radio to inform the British Navy about the ambush, the Germans intercept the message. Meanwhile, Lt. Ellis, who was shot while ascending in the merchant ship’s seaplane in an attempt to fire on the U-boat, is discovered and brought to Hayden. Murphy greets him with gusto and readily assents to locate the wrecked plane in the river. As Murphy and Louis sail out to find the plane, Lauchs and his men invade the village and hold Hayden at gunpoint to force her to turn over Ellis. After lying that only one Englishman survived, Hayden listens in horror as Lauchs murmurs the English word “responsibility” and then shoots the injured man. By the time Murphy returns, dragging the plane behind the barge, the Germans have returned to their ship. Upon hearing of Ellis’ murder, Murphy attempts to mask his anger and sadness. He notices ... +


Near the end of World War II, a British merchant ship is sunk off the coast of Venezuela by a German U-boat commanded by Captain Lauchs. As the sailors fight to stay afloat, the Germans brutally machine-gun each one, watched with horror by the lone, hidden survivor, Irish aviation mechanic Murphy. Days later, the wounded Murphy is rescued at sea by Frenchman Louis Brezan, who pilots a barge on the Orinoco River. Brezan takes Murphy to Dr. Hayden, a refined Quaker missionary who runs a makeshift hospital off the river. Although the crude Murphy insists that his ship was attacked by Germans, Hayden disbelieves that the enemy would bother with their rural area. Under Hayden’s care, Murphy soon recovers, and upon visiting Louis to thank him, the two become fast friends. When Murphy uses Louis’ radio to inform the British Navy about the ambush, the Germans intercept the message. Meanwhile, Lt. Ellis, who was shot while ascending in the merchant ship’s seaplane in an attempt to fire on the U-boat, is discovered and brought to Hayden. Murphy greets him with gusto and readily assents to locate the wrecked plane in the river. As Murphy and Louis sail out to find the plane, Lauchs and his men invade the village and hold Hayden at gunpoint to force her to turn over Ellis. After lying that only one Englishman survived, Hayden listens in horror as Lauchs murmurs the English word “responsibility” and then shoots the injured man. By the time Murphy returns, dragging the plane behind the barge, the Germans have returned to their ship. Upon hearing of Ellis’ murder, Murphy attempts to mask his anger and sadness. He notices Ellis’ flight suit hidden under his hospital bed, and realizing that the lieutenant did not want the Germans to learn of the plane’s existence, sets to work repairing and rebuilding it. He soon has it in the water and admits to a horrified Louis that he plans to use it to attack the U-boat. Louis watches fearfully as Murphy, who does not know how to fly, climbs into the cockpit. The cocky Irishman lifts off unsteadily, then enjoys a shaky but exhilarating ride over the river. Soon after, Hayden sees Murphy flying and, assuming he is going to the mainland, asks him to requisition supplies from the Society of Friends office. Next, Murphy teaches Louis to aid him in creating Molotov cocktails out of gunpowder and petrol bottles, and fashions a release mechanism so he can drop the bombs from the underside of the plane. As he is about to take off, Louis crane-lifts the plane into the water. Hayden arrives to bid Murphy goodbye but, upon spotting the bombs, shouts at him and Louis to stop, stressing that if he fails the Germans may retaliate against the village. Ignoring her, Murphy sets off on his vigilante mission. When the Germans spot the plane, they fire upon it, igniting the bomb fuse so Murphy must struggle to release it before it explodes. Watching the German boat disappear in smoke, Murphy rejoices and returns the village to celebrate. He has broken a rib, and as Hayden wraps it, she vents her frustration with both men by snapping at Louis to “revert to your usual practice of saying and doing nothing.” Later, she apologizes to the hurt Frenchman, kissing him on the cheek. Despite his confidence, Murphy has failed to destroy the U-Boat, and Lauchs soon surfaces and strafes the area to demolish the plane, killing several villagers. Although Lauchs takes Hayden at gunpoint to search for Murphy, he eludes them by clinging to the side of a cliff wall. After the soldiers depart, Murphy apologizes mournfully to Hayden, who counsels him to move forward. However, Murphy cannot let go of his mission, and soon launches a plan to attack the Germans with Louis’ barge. As he motors out onto the lake, a radio announcement reveals that the German Army has been defeated and will soon surrender. Refusing to listen, Murphy heads straight for the U-boat, where Lauchs spots him and wearily shouts through a megaphone for him to turn back, as the war is over. When Murphy continues on, Lauchs orders the men to battle stations and fires a torpedo. By turning sharply, Murphy manages to avoid the torpedo, which slides by and beaches on the nearby shore. Lauchs dives the ship, which submerges too quickly for Murphy to manage to ram into it. He brings the barge ashore, and when Louis sees him loading the torpedo onto the barge crane, he stalks away in frustration, shouting at Murphy, “The world will never build us a monument. The difference is, I know that.” Laboriously, Murphy swings the torpedo back toward the open water, as Lauchs prepares to trap and torpedo him. Murphy floats out over the still water, looking for a sign of the ship. When he sees an air bubble surface, he releases the torpedo straight down. The weapon hits its mark, but as the U-boat collapses, the explosion damages the barge, and a large piece of wood falls onto Murphy, who is trapped as the barge begins to founder. Together, the Germans sink with their ship and Murphy goes down with his. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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