POW, Stephen Brooks (Oliver Reed) is assigned to work in a Munich zoo, where he becomes the keeper of Lucy the elephant. After a heavy bombing raid on Munich, it is decided by the Zoo’s director to transfer Lucy to a safer location in Innsbrook. The journey must be done on foot, so Brooks is accompanied by two German soldiers and a female cook. Brooks however has other plans. To follow in the footsteps of the famous Carthaginian general Hannibal and lead Lucy over the Alps, to Switzerland. Along the way, Brooks frequently runs into an American saboteur named Packy (Michael J Pollard) with his team of misfits and often ends up involved in the war he’s trying to escape.
Hannibal Brooks is on paper, a bizarre film that straddles several genres. It is a post modern war film, with a lot of late 60’s idiosyncrasies. One minute there are actions scenes and the next humour and pathos. I often wonder how this concept was sold to the financial backers? It may also come as a surprise that this film was directed by Michael Winner! Yet it works. Hannibal Brooks is as implausible as it is inoffensive. The Bavarian landscape is beautiful. Oliver Reed gives a superb performance, despite the improbable story and disproves the old saying that actors should never work with children or animals. There is also a pleasant soundtrack by French composer Francis Lai. It’s hard not to warm to the dynamic between Brooks and Lucy the elephant.
Hannibal Brooks is however currently unavailable on DVD in the UK. It is available on Amazon prime and on DVD-R manufacture on demand in the US. There was a R1 Japanese version at one point which is now deleted. The film is shown occasionally on the National Geographic channel on Sky and on the BBC. The 16:9 prints currently in circulation are clean and have been recently re-mastered. Catch it if you can. It’s a enjoyable film that despite its shortcomings makes for very good entertainment.