Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Winner|
|Produced by||Michael Winner|
|Music by||Francis Lai|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Hannibal Brooks is a 1969 British war comedy film directed by Michael Winner and written by Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement based on a story by Winner and Tom Wright. The film follows a prisoner of war attempt's to escape from Nazi Germany to Switzerland during World War II, accompanied by an Asian elephant. It stars Oliver Reed, Michael J. Pollard and Wolfgang Preiss. The beginning is based on the experiences of the writer Tom Wright who, while a prisoner of war, worked at Munich Zoo to care for their elephant "Lucy". It has also been attributed to the true story of Olga the elephant rescued from Vienna Zoo in 1944. The title is a reference to the Carthaginian military commander Hannibal who led an army of war elephants over the Alps.
Stephen "Hannibal" Brooks is a British prisoner of war Lance corporal who is put to work in Munich zoo, looking after an Asian elephant called Lucy. When the zoo is bombed by the Americans, the zoo's director decides it is unsafe for the elephant to remain there. So he sends Brooks along with hostile German soldier Kurt, a friendly German soldier named Willy, and Vronia, a female cook to accompany the elephant to Innsbruck Zoo via a train.
They are forced to walk when Colonel von Haller, an SS officer tells Brooks that the elephant is not allowed on the train. In Austria, Kurt threatens to shoot Lucy while drunk and Brooks accidentally kills Kurt. Brooks, Lucy, Willy and Vronia are forced to run towards the Swiss border. They are helped along the way by an American escapee named Packy who has formed a group of partisans to fight the Germans in Austria, after many run-ins with the Nazis. Half way there, Lucy gets mumps, so Brooks finds an Austrian doctor to look after her, while Vronia and Willy run to Willy's parents house. Vronia and Willy are captured, and are later joined by Brooks. Brooks and Willy are rescued by Packy and continue to race towards Switzerland with Lucy. Unfortunately, along the way Willy is shot by the Nazis while helping Brooks to escape.
When Brooks gets close to the border with Lucy, he is met by von Haller, who tells him to walk to Switzerland and Vronia, who has changed sides after being captured. Von Haller proposes the three go together to Switzerland as he intends to defect due to Germany's deteriorating military position. They are joined by Packy and his partisans near a German border post. The plan is to use von Haller to bluff their way though, but he betrays them. Vronia dies trying to warn the others and is shot in the back. After another long fight with the Germans, Brooks and Lucy eventually get to Switzerland with Packy and his remaining partisans.
- Oliver Reed as Stephen 'Hannibal' Brooks
- Michael J. Pollard as Packy
- Wolfgang Preiss as Colonel von Haller
- Helmuth Lohner as Willi
- Peter Carsten as Kurt
- Karin Baal as Vronia
- Aida The Elephant as Lucy
- Ralf Wolter as Doctor Mendel
- John Alderton as Bernard
- Jürgen Draeger as Semi
- Ernst Fritz Fürbringer as Elephant keeper Kellerman
- Erik Jelde as Zoo director Stern
- James Donald as Padre
Location shooting took place in Austria in the early summer of 1968.
Releasing it slightly in advance of the film (per normal for the era), Lancer Books published a novelization of the screenplay, by Lou Cameron, a ubiquitous, notable and award-winning pulpsmith of the '60s through the '80s, among whose specialties was novels of men at war.
- Goodwin, Cliff Evil Spirits: The Life of Oliver Reed, London: Virgin Publishing Ltd, 2000