Situation Hopeless -- But Not Serious (1965) Poster

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Very good "character study"
Skragg20 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This isn't really a laugh-a-minute comedy, or one that relies on a whole lot of logic (like some of the things in the last scenes), but I've always thought of it as a very good "Odd Couple" kind of story (the opening narration even uses that expression). And each of the actors fits so well into his part- Redford as the refined character who somehow adapts to the basement in no time, Connors as the down-to-earth character who's always trying to escape, and of course Guinness. There have been countless comical eccentric Germans, but trust that actor to come up with one who's pretty much unlike any other. And of course there's Frick's idea that they're all three destined to be together (because of his mother's horoscope and other things), and the way his telling them "the big announcement" keeps being prevented. Another odd thing is that there's never an actual scene of them finding out (it all happens gradually), though I could have stood to see a scene like that. Also, I don't usually like those spontaneous fistfight scenes that used to be so common in comedies, but this movie has one that genuinely works - I don't mean the later one, but the one where Finder finally gets fed up with Wilson's casual attitude towards trying to escape, which is a very funny scene. Also, even though it wasn't a romantic comedy, it had a great line that would be just right for one - in one scene, Finder is feeling especially grim about being a prisoner, and Frick tells him in a well-meaning way that he should try to be "philosophical" about it, which Finder ignores. When Frick offers to do anything to cheer him up, Finder tells him excitedly that he can find him a girl, make some arrangement with her and bring her back to the house. Frick says, "But I thought you were MARRIED, sergeant." Wilson says, "Well, MARRIAGE is something the sergeant IS willing to be philosophical about."
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Offbeat.....But entertaining.
yenlo11 October 1999
An American bomber goes down over Germany during WWII and two of its crew one officer and one sergeant find themselves as captives of a German civilian in his cellar. Alec Guinness, Robert Redford and Mike Connors star in this mid 60's comedy/drama caper. Guinness plays a somewhat milquetoast civilian who decides to hold the duo in his cellar. However once the war ends he fails to release them or alert the authorities opting instead to keep them informed the war is still going on by making up his own news on the conflict. The film lags at certain points but is still an entertaining off beat story.
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better than I expected
MartinHafer1 July 2005
Although most Americans have little knowledge of his work other than Star Wars, Alec Guinness produced an amazing body of work--particularly in the 1940s-1950s--ranging from dramas to quirky comedies. I particularly love his comedies, as they are so well-done and seem so natural and real on the screen--far different from the usual fare from Hollywood.

This movie stars Robert Redford and Mike Connors as two aviators who are shot down over Germany during WW2. They are captured by civilian Guinness who doesn't have the heart to turn them in to the Nazis. So what does he do? That's right--creates his own jail and keeps them himself!! The problem is, Guinness is a lonely man and grows to like having these prisoners in his life. So much that when the war ends, he doesn't tell them and keeps them! Where this weird movie goes from there is something you'll just have to see for yourself. However, for some inexplicable reason, this movie has been panned by many. I'm not sure why, as I enjoyed it and admire it for its originality.
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Fun film.
shcomedy18 September 2013
If you're an older individual or a younger one with more of a brain than most, you'll probably enjoy the humor of this film. It's not laugh out loud hilarious but it has some good performances in it. It's one of the best performances ever given by Mike Connors. Redford is good in it too and so is Alec Guinness, which should really surprise no one since he was a great actor.

But this is an older comedy that requires some intellect to enjoy it. Suffice to say, if you're a fan of Adam Sandler, you probably won't understand it.

It's also based on the first novel of actor Robert Shaw (Quint from "Jaws.") The novel is more serious than this film though, and the film was not as critically acclaimed as the novel. Many don't know Shaw was also a great writer as well as a great actor. He even wrote "The Man in the Glass Booth," one of the most famous plays ever written.

But overall, it's a fun story and a very original idea.

It's interesting to note that later on, Shaw and Robert Redford's names would be linked up again when they both appeared in the film "The Sting." And Alec Guinness also has worked with Shaw on stage in different plays.
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Situation peculiar... but not hopeless
moonspinner5519 November 2006
Two American soldiers stationed in Germany during World War II are captured by an odd German shopkeeper (Alec Guinness); he imprisons the two men in his basement and keeps them there long after the war is over. Strange, unhappy, insecure comedy-drama is extremely well-cast but is really too creepy to laugh at. As the soldiers, Michael Connors and Robert Redford have some good moments, but one can't help but feeling this is just an actors' exercise for both (they're green, but commendable). Alec Guinness is forced to walk a fine line in his characterization; it's imperative to the story that we don't hate the shopkeeper, and Guinness works hard at finding nuances in the man to keep him complex and interesting. If newcomers Connors and Redford are young actors just finding their way, then Guinness is in the Master's class. *1/2 from ****
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Craves their company
bkoganbing14 October 2014
A recent biography of Alec Guinness says that he did not think too much of this film. He felt it was a rehash of characters he played before like in The Lavendar Hill Mob or The Man In The White Suit. Why he took it is a mystery unless this was the best he was being offered at the time. One thing he did note to his wife Merulla was that he felt that Robert Redford was going to be a big star.

Situation Hopeless...But Not Serious is one weird film. It has some interesting and funny moments in it, but it's just way too weird.

Guinness is some quiet and nebbish like German who in the waning days of World War II when two American fliers Captain Robert Redford and Sergeant Michael Connors take refuge in his basement, he locks them up there and they become his own private prisoners. Not that he treats them bad, he just craves company since he has no friends. On V.E. Day had he let them go, no harm no foul. But Guinness keeps them on through 1946.

I could probably draw a lot of conclusions as to why Guinness's character was so wanting their company, but the Code was still somewhat in place. And as Guinness was a repressed gay Catholic man his whole life, this film must have hit close to home.

For the strangest Alec Guinness film out there, check out this one.
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Situation Hopeless... But Pointless
robeykr30 January 2004
A lonely German civilian captures two American fliers in WW II and holds them prisoner in his basement. When the war is over, he can't bring himself to let them go so he continues to hold them prisoner and makes up stories he tells them about how the war would just keep going on and on and on...

Such a good cast and a plot so terrible, it was shear torture to watch. I was so sure that with such a set of good leads it had to have been a good film; sadly I was wrong -- this was years before Schwarzenegger made RED SONJA. What made it worse was that it still made me want to know how it would turn out in the end. All it was, was scene after scene of Guinness telling his 2 guests stories about how Germany was winning the war. How Guinness and Redford got snagged into this disaster is beyond my comprehension.

This film is a good example of why they created The Golden Raspberry Awards and this gets my nomination as worst of 1965.

Too bad the vote scale here left out zero.
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