What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?

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What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Blake Edwards
Screenplay by William Peter Blatty
Story by Maurice Richlin
Blake Edwards
Starring James Coburn
Aldo Ray
Dick Shawn
Sergio Fantoni
Giovanna Ralli
Carroll O'Connor
Harry Morgan
Music by Ray Evans
Jay Livingston
Henry Mancini
Cinematography Philip H. Lathrop
Edited by Ralph E. Winters
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • August 31, 1966 (1966-08-31)
Running time
116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7,000,000 USD[1]
Box office $2,650,000 (est. US/ Canada rentals)[2]

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? is a 1966 comedy DeLuxe Color film written by William Peter Blatty and directed by Blake Edwards for the Mirisch Company in Panavision. It stars James Coburn and Dick Shawn. Filming was at Lake Sherwood Ranch in Thousand Hills, 40 miles northwest of Hollywood. In what had been a cow pasture, designer Fernando Carrere fabricated a storybook Sicilian village which added $800,000 to the production's already elevated $5.5 million budget.[3]


An outfit of U.S. soldiers is assigned to capture "Valerno", a village in Sicily, but upon arrival, they discover that the town has been expecting them and will willingly turn itself over to the Americans' rule, provided they are permitted to complete a soccer match and a wine festival.

Romance and frivolity ensue, as a reluctant, by-the-book Capt. Cash (Dick Shawn) is persuaded by easy-going Lt. Christian (James Coburn) to go along with the locals' wishes. Mistaking the festival for an attack, Germans come to the Italians' aid, but the Americans accidentally end up conquering all.



The title of the film came to Edwards when asked the question by his son Geoffrey. As Edwards was having marital problems at the time, he did not want to leave the United States, so Mirisch Productions agreed to film the movie in Lake Sherwood, California, for $5 million that included the construction of a large Italian village set.[4] In his study of Edwards, Myron Meisel stated that Coburn imitated Blake Edwards' mannerisms throughout the film.[5]

The film was the first of what was originally intended to be six Mirisch-Geoffrey Productions between Edwards and the Mirisch Company. Only one other film, The Party, was completed.

William Peter Blatty recalled that Edwards and he originally agreed to make the film grim and without comedy for the first 20 minutes. This idea was shelved when, during the scene where Captain Cash visits Charlie Company at their chow line, he holds out his hand and one of the GI mess orderly's ladles beans into the captain's hand.[6]


The score is by Henry Mancini. It includes "The Swing March" and "In the Arms of Love".


  1. ^ Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 185
  2. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 p 8
  3. ^ http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/17840/What-Did-You-Do-in-the-War-Daddy-/articles.html
  4. ^ Wasson, Sam A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards Wesleyan University Press, 2009
  5. ^ Meisel, Myron Blake Edwards Coursodon, Jean Pierre & Sauvage, Pierre editors American directors, Volume 2 McGraw-Hill, 1983
  6. ^ 1994 Blatty Interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvKJCj6DM7g

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