This is one of the most like hearted and best performances of veteran actor Oliver Reed, coming off of villain role in "Oliver!" and preparing for a few ventures down the Ken Russell train of movie madness. He's a British prisoner of war who along with American Michael J. Pollard is sent to work at a German zoo closed to the public, where he befriends the elephant Lucy and equally trains her to work. When the zoo is all of a sudden Bombs, all of the animals are put onto a train, heading to Austria, but after some battles with the Nazis, Reed, Pollard and a few Germans who aren't quite Nazis decide to head to Switzerland. But it's a long way to the border, and with the Nazis on their trail, it's a difficult task to achieve.
Two popular genres of movies in the 1960's were animal films and action-filled WWII dramas that showed various missions, and this combines both. It's not really a comedy although it does have some very light-hearted scenes, and of course, Lucy is adorable. I've seen many films with Oliver Reed, and this is him at his most likeable. Even when not a villain, he's often violent anti-hero and in this film, he is completely likable, even when firing artillery at the Nazis or confronting a German officer on a bridge and refusing to back the elephant up so the car can move forward. I half expected him to reply to the German officer's request with a famous Jimmy Durante line, 'What elephant?"
There are a few amusing moments where Lucy helps Reed move logs, getting an alternative version to the saying "As easy as falling off a lot." The outdoor mountainous photography is gorgeous, and there's also an incident with a train going off its track that is quite dramatic. This is a very well-made movie directed by Michael Winner, and perfect family fare in addition to a history lessons to get younger audiences in history based movies even if they are fictional. It's also a nice twist that some of the German soldiers do offer support to the allies, and as they head into the mountains, it really does become like the original Hannibal getting across Europe with the help of his Pachyderm assistants.