Two Men Went to Waris a true story pulled from those wacky Brits in World War II. Drafted into the British Dental Corps ("An army that can't bite, can't fight!"), Sgt. King (Kenneth Cranham) and Pvt. Cuthbertson (Leo Bill) couldn't be less thrilled with a life of filling cavities back home. King desires action, so he goads Cuthbertson into going AWOL with him. His plan: Steal a boat, sail to occupied France, and wreak havoc on the Nazis, guerrilla style.
And so they do, with a couple of revolvers and a dozen grenades. Alas, they are dentists. When they first arrive, they're convinced they never made it out of England, but a quick sighting of a Nazi assures them to the contrary. Eventually they reach a fortified radar station, and their guerrilla tactics succeed in doing some minor damage, sending the Germans scrambling outside to look for the army they're sure is at the gates... only to find nothing.
Back home, King and Cuthbertson are quickly court martialed for being absent without leave. On the cusp of their conviction, a Major (Derek Jacobi) in the employ of Churchhill himself comes to the rescue and quickly corroborates their entire story: Indeed the station suffered some damage while spies were sneaking in to steal some equipment. Only no one knew who did it or why.
Based on the Raymond Foxall book Amateur Commandos, Two Men Went to War gets progressively better and eventually triumphs over its unfortunate title. I'm not familiar with any of director John Henderson's other films, but he shows a casual grace with the camera that is only partially undermined by his lazy storytelling method. It's slow going and not terribly challengin cinema, both saved and harmed by its adherence to its "based on a true story" heritage. Still, it's worth a look, and WWII buffs will get a kick out of an obscure story that shows how any man can be hero.
Run time: 109 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st November 2002
Distributed by: Indican Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: John Henderson
Starring: Kenneth Cranham as Sgt. Peter King, Rosanna Lavelle as Emma Fraser, Phyllida Law as Faith, Julian Glover as Col. Hatchard, Anthony Valentine as SM Dudley, David Ryall as Winston Churchill, Richard Sutton as Pvt. Horrocks, Anthony O'Donnell as Chief armourer, Paul Bayfield as Mike (soldier #1), Jason Round as Soldier #3, Tim 'Nobby' Clarke as Young sergeant, Nick Miles as Sgt. Mowat, James Fleet as Maj. Bates, Derek Jacobi as Maj. Merton, Leo Bill as Pvt. Leslie Cutherbertson