Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bridge On (Over) The River Kwai

"I saw a film today, oh boy, the English army had just won the war..."

It was the mysterious discussion forum character Apollo C. Vermouth who speculated that the above line from the song "A Day In The Life" could have been a reference to the movie "Bridge On the River Kwai." The film, released in 1957 (the year that Lennon met McCartney), starred William Holden and Alec Guinness. Its connections to the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, released a decade later, are remote but numerous.

Apollo pointed out that the film may have been the inspiration for the Beatles imaginary singer Billy Shears. As indicated in the IMDb entry, the name William Shears can be constructed from the main character credit.

Any avid reader of Apollo's posts must have been confused about why he would make a stretch like that. Apollo reported that the Shears character even told a nurse in the film "All you need is love." He also added, "What profound effect did it have on Lennon, who went on to play in a movie titled, "How I Won the War." [I would have put a question mark there, but I guess we'll blame that on his typist]

Although the Shears character is American, a main focus of the film is a bridge that English prisoners of war are forced to build for the enemy. The bridge is built and ultimately destroyed, leading to the defeat of the Japanese.

If you are looking for a connection between all of this and the Paul Is Dead rumor or The Rotten Apple Series, I haven't got one. However, if there is a code of some kind, this very well may be a part of it.

One reason why I have never accepted the premise that the Sgt. Pepper cover is simply a collection of the Beatles heroes is that I cannot imagine a gathering of that kind not having any representation from the British Comedy group The Goons. The Beatles praised the Goons frequently throughout their careers. George adored Peter Sellers, who was even present in the "Get Back" film footage. Paul paid tribute to Spike Milligan with a medley of "Yesterday" and the "Ying Tong Song."

The Goons may not have been on the Sgt. Pepper cover, but they do have strong connections with the Beatles and one pretty strong connection with "The Bridge On the River Kwai." This connection also involves the Beatles Producer, George Martin.

In 1962 Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, with Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller released the record 'Bridge On The River Wye'. It was a spoof of the film 'Bridge On The River Kwai', being based around the 1957 Goon Show 'An African Incident'. It was intended to have the same name as the film, but shortly before its release, the film company threatened legal action if the name was used. Producer George Martin (of Beatles fame) edited out the 'K' every time the word 'Kwai' was spoken. And so, 'The Bridge on the River Wye' was created. (from

There are some other crazy connections. The song that the soldiers are whistling in the movie is called the Colonel Bogey March. In the late 1970s, Ringo signed the artist Colonel Doug Bogie to his Ring-O Records label. John indicated that the news story about the death of Tara Browne inspired part of the song "A Day In The Life." Browne was the heir of the Guinness fortune and Alec Guinness starred in "Bridge On the River Kwai." Oh yes, "The Bridge on the River Wye" skit by the Goons featured Peter Cook, one half of the team that would eventually record the famous Beatles outfake "L.S. Bumble Bee."

The last connection comes from Beatle Ringo Starr, who hosted Saturday Night Live episode #186. Towards the end of the show, Ringo starred in a skit that was a spoof on "The Bridge On the River Kwai."

In the skit, the British Army and their enemy utilized Reverse Psychology. (Didn't Rotten Apple #1 use REVERSE psychology?)

One final fact: The episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Ringo Starr and featuring a skit based on "Bridge On the River Kwai" was performed and broadcast live on December 8, 1984, exactly four years after John Lennon was killed only blocks away.

What is this code?

(Kwai, from LIBER 777)