Guy Ritchie, the director behind hit films such as “Snatch,” “Sherlock Holmes” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” has signed on to write and direct the upcoming Paramount Pictures WWII film, “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.”
As first reported by Deadline, Ritchie is teaming up with Jerry Bruckheimer, acclaimed producer of “Top Gun,” to bring the exploits of Britain’s Special Operations Executive, or SOE, to the big screen.
Based on Damien Lewis’ book of the same name, the SOE, referred to as Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, was Britain’s first black ops unit.
“It isn’t only the good boys who help to win wars,” Prime Minister Winston Churchill once quipped. “It is the sneaks and the stinkers as well.”
In the spring of 1940, with WWII embroiling Continental Europe, the British government merged three top-secret services to create an organization dedicated to derailing Adolf Hitler’s onrushing war machine via sabotage, propaganda and other means of irregular warfare.
Designed as a guerrilla campaign against the Axis, SOE soldiers operated outside the typical chain of command and were directed to inflict as much damage as possible — by any means necessary — to enemy forces.
Despite being engineered by only a half-dozen men, the SOE yielded impressive results throughout the war.
“Most operations were quite small,” Giles Milton, author of Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, told HistoryNet. “The whole idea was to drop in a few men and let them unleash as much damage as they possibly could. For example, the assassination of SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich was only two men who had parachuted in. The brilliant operation to take out the heavy water plant in Vemork, Norway, needed for the Germans to build an atomic bomb, was six men.”
The quirky and rough and tumble SOE characters are sure to suit Ritchie, who is known for his witty writing style and unique characters.
Arash Amel (“A Private War”), as well as Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy (“The Fighter”), have signed on as screenwriters alongside Lewis and Ritchie.
And while the film is still in pre-production with little detail on casting or release dates, “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” has the potential to be an entertaining film for history buffs and cinephiles alike.
Claire Barrett is a digital media editor at HistoryNet and a World War II researcher with an unparalleled affinity for Sir Winston Churchill and Michigan football.