• John Lennon and Michael Crawford, parodying their nation’s twits

Out of print for several years, Richard Lester’s grand-scale comedy How I Won the War (1967) is available on DVD again courtesy of the MGM Archive Collection (Facets has had it for rent for a couple of weeks). War may be remembered mainly for John Lennon’s involvement—the movie provided him with the circle-frame glasses that became central to his image—despite the fact that he plays only a supporting character. If not for its connection to Lennon mythology, the movie most likely would be forgotten, as it’s so steeped in the zeitgeist of 1967 that the jokes practically require footnotes today. And to make things more frustrating, the aggressively ramshackle style prevents the ideas from coalescing into any appreciable shape. Still, the movie betrays the energy and imagination of Lester’s best work (A Hard Day’s Night, Petulia), making it the sort of A-for-effort failure that reveals as much about a major artist as a genuine success might.