Operation Snafu


1h 37m 1965

Brief Synopsis

An unlicensed street peddler brings his conniving ways to the military.

Film Details

Also Known As
On the Fiddle, Operation War Head, War Head
Genre
Comedy
War
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
Cleveland opening: 27 Jan 1965
Production Company
S. Benjamin Fisz
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Stop at a Winner by Ronald Frederick Delderfield (London, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In World War II Horace Pope is drafted into the Royal Air Force in lieu of serving a jail sentence. He decides to make the best of the situation, and with the assistance of a Gypsy, Pedlar Pascoe, he turns his wartime service into a life of easy profit. With Pope serving as the brains for the team of opportunists and Pascoe supplying the muscle, the two begin their first assignment by selling transfers and leave passes to fellow airmen. At their next station, Pope and Pascoe become butchers and arrange to sell fresh beef to Cooksley, a local butcher. Pope is attracted to Iris, the butcher's daughter, until Cooksley begins to hint of marriage. A quick transfer saves Pope; and after a brief stay in a hospital following an air raid, the two men find themselves at an American air base near Cornwall, where they turn a rundown pub owned by Trowbridge into a financial success. Sergeant Buzzer, a greedy American, wants the pub business for himself, however, and manages to have Pascoe and Pope sent overseas to France. For the first time, the two men find themselves in a combat zone. Pascoe takes over this time, and both men leave the service as decorated heroes. They return to civilian life at Cornwall and once again take over the profitable pub, but no sooner do they arrive than Iris also arrives with a baby that is obviously Pope's.

Film Details

Also Known As
On the Fiddle, Operation War Head, War Head
Genre
Comedy
War
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
Cleveland opening: 27 Jan 1965
Production Company
S. Benjamin Fisz
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Stop at a Winner by Ronald Frederick Delderfield (London, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

On the Fiddle (aka Operation Snafu)


In his last role before he became an international superstar with his starring role as James Bond in Dr. No (1962), Sean Connery appeared in a World War II comedy entitled On the Fiddle (1961), which is a British colloquialism for a shyster on the take. In it, he played a character named Pedlar Pascoe, a gypsy rogue who hooks up with con artist Horace Pope (Alfred Lynch) when the latter convinces him to join the RAF where they can hoodwink and trick fellow enlisted men with their opportunistic schemes. All of their so-called business ventures are failures until they are transferred to a combat zone in France where they become unexpected war heroes and return in triumph, eventually regaining ownership of a pub in Cornwall they had previously lost. The film was a modest, unassuming B-movie entertainment that would probably never have received a U.S. theatrical release if it wasn't for Connery's success as secret agent OO7 and explains why On the Fiddle turned up in American movie houses as Operation Snafu in 1965 (it was also known as Operation War Head).

At the time he made On the Fiddle, Connery was at the end of a very unsuccessful contract with 20th-Century-Fox and unhappy with the direction of his career and the sort of roles he was being offered. Fox gave him one more opportunity in the sprawling all-star Normandy Invasion epic, The Longest Day (1962), in which his brief scene with comrades-in-arms Kenneth More and Norman Rossington qualified as no more than a cameo. After that, Fox cut him loose but director Terence Young, who had previously directed Connery when he was a minor supporting actor in Action of the Tiger in 1957, caught his performance in the stage play Judith and realized he would be perfect as the heroic lead in an adaptation of Ian Fleming's spy adventure, Dr. No. While there are varying accounts of who deserves the credit for casting Connery in the role of James Bond – producers Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli and Harry Saltzman often claim that honor – Young was instrumental in the decision and Connery's subsequent success.

Despite its relatively obscure status in Connery's filmography, On the Fiddle also had a hand in assisting Connery's climb to fame. It marked the first time he achieved top billing in a movie and, despite its lack of critical accolades, it did attract the attention of some movers and shakers in the film industry. A writer for the British publication Woman noted at the time that "It's a real mystery to me why no film company has built Sean Connery into a great international star. He reminded me of Clark Gable. He has the same rare mixture of handsome virility, sweetness and warmth."

Connery has moments of charm and appealing foolishness as the not-too-bright, more brawny half of the con man team in On the Fiddle and the picture is more interesting today than when it was first released. Now it provides an intriguing look at wartime England with director Cyril Frankel mixing stock footage with real locations that featured bombed out ruins and damage from the war. It also functions as a showcase for some of the best comedic character actors in British cinema at that time, all of whom get to shine in brief bits in the film's episodic structure, such as John Le Mesurier, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Lance Percival.

When On the Fiddle opened in the U.S. as Operation Snafu, audiences and critics weren't fooled into believing it had any connection to the James Bond films and it quickly vanished after a brief theatrical run. Yet, the few reviews it did receive were more positive than negative with Howard Thompson, film critic for The New York Times, writing "The wonder is that a picture with a story already done, gag by gag, a hundred times is so easy to take. It is, though – flip, friendly, brisk and a wee bit cynical in its take-it-or-leave-it jauntiness. Even the final switch to heroics clicks into place as deftly played by Alfred Lynch and Mr. Connery."

Alfred Lynch, unfortunately, never had the same impact that Connery had on American audiences but on his home turf, he was quite successful, specializing in working class Cockneys in such films as Two and Two Make Six (1961) and West Eleven (1963), eventually graduating to bigger international productions such as 55 Days at Peking (1963), The Hill (1965) with his former co-star Sean Connery, and The Taming of the Shrew (1967) and numerous television shows in England (Manhunt, The Fortunes of Nigel, Doctor Who).

Producer: Benjamin Fisz
Director: Cyril Frankel
Screenplay: Harold Buchman; R.F. Delderfield (novel "Stop at a Winner")
Cinematography: Edward Scaife
Art Direction: John Blezard
Music: Malcolm Arnold
Film Editing: Peter Hunt
Cast: Alfred Lynch (Horace Pope), Sean Connery (Pedlar Pascoe), Cecil Parker (Group Capt. Bascombe), Stanley Holloway (Mr. Cooksley), Alan King (Top Sgt. Buzzer), Eric Barker (Doctor), Wilfrid Hyde-White (Trowbridge), Kathleen Harrison (Mrs. Cooksley), Eleanor Summerfield (Flora McNaughton), Terence Longdon (Air Gunner), Victor Maddern (First Airman), Harry Locke (Huxtable), John Le Mesurier (Hixon), Viola Keats (Sister), Peter Sinclair (Mr. Pope).
BW-97m.

by Jeff Stafford

SOURCES:
Sean Connery: A Biography by Michael Freedland
Sean Connery by John Parker
Sean Connery: A Biography by Bob McCabe
another untitled Sean bio
www.afi.com
www.screenonline.org.uk/
IMDB
On The Fiddle (Aka Operation Snafu)

On the Fiddle (aka Operation Snafu)

In his last role before he became an international superstar with his starring role as James Bond in Dr. No (1962), Sean Connery appeared in a World War II comedy entitled On the Fiddle (1961), which is a British colloquialism for a shyster on the take. In it, he played a character named Pedlar Pascoe, a gypsy rogue who hooks up with con artist Horace Pope (Alfred Lynch) when the latter convinces him to join the RAF where they can hoodwink and trick fellow enlisted men with their opportunistic schemes. All of their so-called business ventures are failures until they are transferred to a combat zone in France where they become unexpected war heroes and return in triumph, eventually regaining ownership of a pub in Cornwall they had previously lost. The film was a modest, unassuming B-movie entertainment that would probably never have received a U.S. theatrical release if it wasn't for Connery's success as secret agent OO7 and explains why On the Fiddle turned up in American movie houses as Operation Snafu in 1965 (it was also known as Operation War Head). At the time he made On the Fiddle, Connery was at the end of a very unsuccessful contract with 20th-Century-Fox and unhappy with the direction of his career and the sort of roles he was being offered. Fox gave him one more opportunity in the sprawling all-star Normandy Invasion epic, The Longest Day (1962), in which his brief scene with comrades-in-arms Kenneth More and Norman Rossington qualified as no more than a cameo. After that, Fox cut him loose but director Terence Young, who had previously directed Connery when he was a minor supporting actor in Action of the Tiger in 1957, caught his performance in the stage play Judith and realized he would be perfect as the heroic lead in an adaptation of Ian Fleming's spy adventure, Dr. No. While there are varying accounts of who deserves the credit for casting Connery in the role of James Bond – producers Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli and Harry Saltzman often claim that honor – Young was instrumental in the decision and Connery's subsequent success. Despite its relatively obscure status in Connery's filmography, On the Fiddle also had a hand in assisting Connery's climb to fame. It marked the first time he achieved top billing in a movie and, despite its lack of critical accolades, it did attract the attention of some movers and shakers in the film industry. A writer for the British publication Woman noted at the time that "It's a real mystery to me why no film company has built Sean Connery into a great international star. He reminded me of Clark Gable. He has the same rare mixture of handsome virility, sweetness and warmth." Connery has moments of charm and appealing foolishness as the not-too-bright, more brawny half of the con man team in On the Fiddle and the picture is more interesting today than when it was first released. Now it provides an intriguing look at wartime England with director Cyril Frankel mixing stock footage with real locations that featured bombed out ruins and damage from the war. It also functions as a showcase for some of the best comedic character actors in British cinema at that time, all of whom get to shine in brief bits in the film's episodic structure, such as John Le Mesurier, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Lance Percival. When On the Fiddle opened in the U.S. as Operation Snafu, audiences and critics weren't fooled into believing it had any connection to the James Bond films and it quickly vanished after a brief theatrical run. Yet, the few reviews it did receive were more positive than negative with Howard Thompson, film critic for The New York Times, writing "The wonder is that a picture with a story already done, gag by gag, a hundred times is so easy to take. It is, though – flip, friendly, brisk and a wee bit cynical in its take-it-or-leave-it jauntiness. Even the final switch to heroics clicks into place as deftly played by Alfred Lynch and Mr. Connery." Alfred Lynch, unfortunately, never had the same impact that Connery had on American audiences but on his home turf, he was quite successful, specializing in working class Cockneys in such films as Two and Two Make Six (1961) and West Eleven (1963), eventually graduating to bigger international productions such as 55 Days at Peking (1963), The Hill (1965) with his former co-star Sean Connery, and The Taming of the Shrew (1967) and numerous television shows in England (Manhunt, The Fortunes of Nigel, Doctor Who). Producer: Benjamin Fisz Director: Cyril Frankel Screenplay: Harold Buchman; R.F. Delderfield (novel "Stop at a Winner") Cinematography: Edward Scaife Art Direction: John Blezard Music: Malcolm Arnold Film Editing: Peter Hunt Cast: Alfred Lynch (Horace Pope), Sean Connery (Pedlar Pascoe), Cecil Parker (Group Capt. Bascombe), Stanley Holloway (Mr. Cooksley), Alan King (Top Sgt. Buzzer), Eric Barker (Doctor), Wilfrid Hyde-White (Trowbridge), Kathleen Harrison (Mrs. Cooksley), Eleanor Summerfield (Flora McNaughton), Terence Longdon (Air Gunner), Victor Maddern (First Airman), Harry Locke (Huxtable), John Le Mesurier (Hixon), Viola Keats (Sister), Peter Sinclair (Mr. Pope). BW-97m. by Jeff Stafford SOURCES: Sean Connery: A Biography by Michael Freedland Sean Connery by John Parker Sean Connery: A Biography by Bob McCabe another untitled Sean bio www.afi.com www.screenonline.org.uk/ IMDB

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Opened in London in October 1961 as On the Fiddle; running time: 97 min. U. S. prerelease titles: War Head and Operation War Head.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1961

Released in United States 1961