A Major with an attitude problem and a history of getting things done is told to interview military prisoners with death sentences or long terms for a dangerous mission; To parachute behind enemy lines and cause havoc for the German Generals at a rest house on the eve of D-Day. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Lee Marvin related a joke Robert Aldrich pulled on Charles Bronson, who was only about 5'9" and wore low boxing shoes during rehearsal. When it came time to set up the first inspection scene, he placed Bronson between the 6'6" 'Clint Walker' and the 6'4" Donald Sutherland. According to Marvin, Aldrich laughed for about ten minutes over Bronson's perturbed reaction. See more »
Although Major Reisman correctly wears an officer's overseas cap with the mixed black-and-gold braided trim on it in scenes in which he wears a dress uniform, he (incorrectly) wears an enlisted man's plain overseas cap in scenes in which he wears a fatigue, or field, uniform. See more »
[impersonating a general]
Very pretty, Colonel, Very pretty, But, can they fight?
See more »
The opening credits don't occur until 10 minutes into the film. While it is common nowadays for films to have a pre-credits sequence, it was considered innovative in 1967. See more »
A good old fashioned war film with no hidden agenda.
A generally entertaining war film with no real political axe to grind or patriotic flagwaving getting in the way.
Its very dangerous trying to humourise war in the movies, because that would be offensive to all those that had served & died in real life. Kelly's Heroes and 1941 probably went a little too far, pretending that war is really fun & cool when you've got people like Clint Eastwood in charge.
But then you have other war films that are black in its humour but manage to keep into focus the cruelty & horrors of war at the same time
M*A*S*H and Catch 22 are the best examples.
With Dirty Dozen we have something of a go-between; the humour amongst the characters is light & welcoming but never falls into farce or bad-taste; and Aldrich quickly pulls us back into the fold with some tight scripted scenes of drama & mass murder (throwing petrol & grenades into that German bunker to name but one. I often wonder about that scene, and whether it was some kind of metaphor for the gas chambers & concentration camps in Belsen)
But unlike MASH & Catch 22, Aldrich resists the temptation to openly politicise the effects of war, after all this film was made in '67 near the height of the Vietnam war/protests. Instead he takes a straight line course of action and lets us be moved & entertained by the convicted GIs doing their duty.
Marvin is excellent as the hardnosed but disobediant Major. He plays the anti-hero far better than Eastwood in Kelly's Heroes. Marvin just looks the type who'd give the top brass as well the Germans a real hard time.
But special mention must go to Cassavettes as Viktor Franko, the trouble-maker's trouble-maker. His character is so refreshing & wild amongst a relatively mild cast of supporting extras, with the exception of Savalas. Franko is the Joker of the pack but you soon feel an attachment for him in spite of his crimes.
Sutherland & Bronson, don't really add much. The former plays a slightly naive man who hasn't really grown up and Bronson just smirks & mumbles a lot.
The only other character worthy of a mention is the truly terrifying Savalas, who is a Christian through & through, yet hates all women as much as the Germans; and has a most spine chilling laugh! Difficult to believe this man later became Kojak!
The film is a tad overlong; the first & last 40 minutes hold the interest but the middle section (the War Games scene), is far too long and generally detracts.
All the same, DD is a very good movie, especially for those who don't want to be politically moralised too.
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