During WWII at camp Stalag 7A, a number of POW’s are sent to work at Munich Zoo to care for the animals. British soldier Stephen Brooks (Oliver Reed) is assigned to care for a Ceylonese elephant called Lucy, eventually becoming attached to her.
After a heavy Allied bombing raid on Munich kills some of the animals and destroys most of the zoo, it is decided to evacuate the surviving animals. Brooks, Polish cook Vronia (Karin Baal) and two German soldiers – a nasty Nazi called Kurt (Peter Carsten) and a nice guy called Willi (Helmut Lohner) – are instructed to accompany the four-ton elephant to Innsbruck in Austria – a journey which provides Brooks with the opportunity to escape.
Once the evil Kurt is despatched, Brooks guides Lucy into the Alps intending to find his way to the Swiss border on foot, where freedom and neutrality await. Along the way, he frequently runs into an American saboteur named Packy (Michael J Pollard), a wily semi-moron who – with his team of misfit ragamuffin partisans – spends most of his time engaged in inept acts of sabotage against the Germans.
There are also a number of encounters with nasty SS Colonel von Haller (Wolfgang Preiss).
The storyline – from a screenplay by Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement – may be implausible but the Alpine landscape is wonderful in DeLuxe colour and Oliver Reed gives a superb and enthusiastic performance.
During production, a stunt driver careered into a group of German tourists, injuring a 19-year-old boy who had to be hospitalised. Michael Winner responded to the incident by saying, “That’s one back for the six million”.
Lucy was played by an elephant called Aida from Klant’s Zoo in Valkenburg, Holland.
Stephen ‘Hannibal’ Brooks
Michael J. Pollard
Col. von Haller
Von Haller’s Sergeant
Elephant Keeper Kellerman
Ernst Fritz Fürbringer
Zoo Director Stern