This paper investigates the load-bearing capacity of a perfectly smooth retaining wall laterally supported at both ends assuming that the wall fails by the development of three plastic hinges. The study considers the case of a cohesionless elastic–perfectly plastic backfill with a Mohr–Coulomb yield criterion and an associative flow rule in drained conditions. A kinematically admissible soil–structure failure mechanism is proposed and compared with the conventional solutions and with results from a numerical finite element modelling. The study shows that the proposed solution and the numerical solution are in good agreement. These solutions are found to be much more favourable for the wall than the conventional solutions.