Soft Beds, Hard Battles

Soft Beds, Hard Battles is a 1974 British comedy film directed by Roy Boulting, starring Peter Sellers in several roles, and with an all-star cast, including Curt Jurgens, Lila Kedrova and Jenny Hanley. Sellers reunited with the Boulting brothers for this farce, in which the women of a brothel help the war effort to rid the world of the Nazi peril - in the bedroom.[2]

Soft Beds, Hard Battles
Directed byRoy Boulting
Produced byJohn Boulting
Roy Boulting
Written byRoy Boulting
Leo Marks
Based onan idea by Maurice Moisiewitsch
StarringPeter Sellers
Curd Jurgens
Lila Kedrova
Music byNeil Rhoden
CinematographyGilbert Taylor
Edited byMartin Charles
Distributed byThe Rank Organisation
Release date
January 1974 (1974-01) (UK)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film took a limited release; in the United States, it was released under the title Undercovers Hero.


Set in Nazi-occupied France, the story follows Major Robinson of the British Army. Installing himself at a Parisian brothel, he assists the French resistance and works with Madame Grenier and her girls who find themselves eliminating high ranking German officers (using ingenious rigged beds and killer flatulence pills) right under the noses of the Gestapo. The girls find themselves enlisted in the Free French Forces and finally help to foil Hitler's plan to blow up Paris. They later receive medals from the French president.[3]



John and Roy Boulting had been pursuing separate careers for a number of years before reuniting to make this film. John left his position as managing director of British Lion which he held for six years to produce "because I am anxious to make films again."[4] He called the film "a flippant look at war and the absurdities of war... All naked men are alike really and the film stresses the idea that wars are not won or lost by top level Whitehall, Pentagon, or Wilhemstrasse strategy but by fortuitous intangibles and by the foibles of human beings."[4]

The brothers were directors of British Lion, which was sold to Barclay Securities. They proposed to sell 45 of the 60 acres of Shepperton studio for housing development. The union protested and said if any of the previous directors of Shepperton, such as the Boultings, tried to make films anywhere they would be blackbanned. Production on the film began in March 1973 but was halted due to uncertainty about the banning. John Boulting blamed "a little cabal of Communists who are ideologically motivated. They are dedicated in my view not to the improvement of our industry but to the destruction of the whole fabric of society." The union said the Boultings were "hysterical."[1] The union withdrew the blackban provided the Boultings give "prior consideration" to Shepperton for the making of any other films.[5] The brothers agreed.[6] Filming finished by May 1973.[7]


The film was a financial failure and Roy Boulting lost a good deal of his own money on it.[8]

Critical reception

The Irish Times called it "his best film for some time".[9]

  • The New York Times called the film, "a sketch film with very few jokes."[10]
  • Time Out wrote, "its raison d'être is Peter Sellers, back in brilliant form as six variations on blinkered authority, including Hitler and a De Gaulle-ish French general, but particularly as the Gestapo chief Schroeder, limping-cum-strutting from disaster to disaster, an extraordinary amalgam of Dr Strangelove and Fred Kite. Worth a visit for Sellers and one classic joke about a PoW."[11]


  1. Boulting threat to halt films Barker, Dennis. The Guardian19 Mar 1973: 1.
  2. "Undercovers Hero Trailer, Reviews and Schedule for Undercovers Hero |". Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  3. "Soft Beds, Hard Battles | BFI | BFI". Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  4. Author? Archie Bunker, No Less By A. H. WEILER. New York Times 3 Dec 1972: D11.
  5. New move in film dispute Our own Reporter. The Guardian (1959-2003); London (UK) [London (UK)]20 Mar 1973: 5.
  6. Studio workers lift blacking threat Our own Reporter. The Guardian 23 Mar 1973: 5.
  7. IT'S MUTUAL: Liza Minnelli Tells Love for Peter Sellers Lambert, Tom. Los Angeles Times23 May 1973: a9.
  8. hayley was my true love, but I lost her and my son. now I've found him again Film legend roy Boulting on a life of infidelity and reunion with his pop star son: [1ST_STH Edition 5] Middlehurst, Lester. Daily Mail20 June 1998: 32.
  9. SIX OF SELLERS Linechan, Fergus. The Irish Times 4 Nov 1974: 10.
  10. Canby, Vincent (23 October 1975). "Movie Review - Undercovers Hero - Screen: 'Undercovers':Sellers Plays 6 Roles in Boultings Comedy". Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  11. "Soft Beds, Hard Battles | review, synopsis, book tickets, showtimes, movie release date | Time Out London". 27 December 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
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