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Dirty Heroes More at IMDbPro »Dalle Ardenne all'inferno (original title)

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

THE DIRTY HEROES (Alberto De Martino, 1967) **1/2

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
21 November 2007

Possibly the best that I've watched of the "Euro-Cult" variations on Hollywood's war-themed spectaculars of the 1960s (ditto with respect to the films of director De Martino); that said, its overall quality is only comparable to second-tier legitimate efforts like, say, THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE (1968) or KELLY'S HEROES (1970)!

I've watched a few of these during the past year and they mostly emerged to be competent and enjoyable, but also instantly forgettable; being usually co-productions between various European countries, they still managed to attract a number of international stars. In this case, the hero is played by American Frederick Stafford (who later made BATTLE OF EL ALAMEIN [1969] and EAGLES OVER London [1969]). Interestingly, the film co-stars four James Bond alumni in leading lady Daniela Bianchi (FROM Russia, WITH LOVE [1963]), Curd Jurgens (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME [1977]), Adolfo Celi (THUNDERBALL [1965]) and Anthony Dawson (DR. NO [1962]); also on hand are Howard Ross, Michel Constantine, John Ireland and, most impressively perhaps, Helmuth Schneider as a nasty SS officer.

What's unusual about this particular title is that it throws in an elaborate diamond caper (with access to the vault gained from under water) amidst the usual Nazis-vs.-Partisans action. Of course, to complicate matters further is the budding romance between Stafford and Bianchi (she's a Jew married to high-ranking German officer Jurgens!) and, besides, virtually all those involved have their own agenda as to what to do with the loot! The action sequences are no less sweeping than those of the typical Hollywood outing, particularly during the (rather protracted) climax – this is then followed by a clumsy attempt to tie up its many loose ends, thus making the whole even more overlong! As a matter of fact, in hindsight it seems that the film doesn't know whether it wants to be a straightforward war actioner, a tongue-in-cheek caper adventure or something a lot more solemn altogether, but at least it does have its moments in each of these facets.

Incidentally, this was one of the few times where composers Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai shared credit for a film score (which is alternately stirring and melancholy); usually, the latter either composed alone or conducted the former's themes.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Typical Italian WWII Film *SPOILERS!

Author: SgtSlaughter from St. Davids, Pennsylvania, USA
29 April 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Throughout the late-1960s, Italian directors cranked a number of low-budget action flicks, attempting to cash in on the success of "The Dirty Dozen" and other blockbuster Hollywood war films. While "The Dirty Heroes" sounds like a cheap imitation, it's actually one the most engaging war action films to come out of Europe in the late 1960s. This is credited to professionalism all-around, from the ensemble cast to the expert crew behind-the-scenes.

The plot is a bit complicated and has several twists throughout. Sesame (Frederick Stafford) and Randall (Howard Ross) are two Allied bomber crewman who are shot down in Holland. It's purely coincidence that their old friend Petrowski (Michel Constantine), a German guard who's actually loyal to the Allies, is a camp guard, and helps them escape. The three team up with Rollman (Adolfo Celi) and plot to heist Dutch diamonds from a safe in the bowels of Wehrmacht Headquarters. But they need help getting inside, so they enlist Kristina von Keist (Daniela Bianchi), wife of General von Keist (Curd Jurgens), who turns about to be a Jew and has to choose whether to help the partisans or withdraw from the plan to save herself. To complicate matters, Von Keist has no idea of his wife's true identity, and is already being hounded by a vicious SS General (Helmuth Schneider).

With a script by six writers, it's no surprise that the plot is so complicated. What's amazing is that all of these details, and more, work together perfectly to create a brilliantly crafted story an incredibly fast pace. You never know whose side each character is on. Are the good guys really do-gooders, or are they the "dirty heroes" the title alludes to? There are several conflicts going on here, and it's amazing that they never become confusing and contradictory.

The movie relies on performances and fleshed-out characters to drive the action, which is part of the reason it works so well. Frederick Stafford is excellent, as usual. He makes Sesame a flesh-and-blood character, whose only ambition is greed – until he meets Kristina and becomes wrapped up in a cause he doesn't necessarily want to be part of. Stafford is one of my favorite actors in this genre, because he always has unconventional leading roles and makes his character into a sympathetic, dimensional human being. Daniela Bianchi is equally great as Kristina, the woman who has to make a difficult moral decision. Unfortunately, the character falls to pieces in the final act, where her substantial part is reduced to sappy love interest and she's given little to do. As General von Keist, Curd Jurgens ("The Enemy Below") is easily the most developed character in the film. He is trying to do a tough job and save as many lives as he can, because he knows defeat of the Third Reich is imminent. Von Keist is uncharacteristically sympathetic – he is shown to make truces with partisans to prevent massacres of his own troops and civilian casualties.

The supporting characters give the leads plenty of extra juice. John Ireland seems to be enjoying himself as Captain O'Connor, an American pilot who gets conned into helping the "heroes" heist the diamonds. Adolfo Celi is great fun as Rollman, the Dutch partisan whose loyalties and motives are questionable until the final act. He gets to be physically active in his role, dispatching Germans with a machine-gun, swimming through canals to escape PT Boats, and more. Helmuth Schneider ("Is Paris Burning?") has a very effective, if typical, role as General Hassler, a vicious SS officer. Hassler and Von Keist provide a moral conflict against the backdrop of the greater plot, and the two opponents face off in the final act, kicking off a complicated plot resolution.

Director Alberto de Martino knows his craft. By 1967, he'd already directed several gladiator films and some excellent spy movies along the lines of James Bond adventures. Therefore, "The Dirty Heroes" has an appropriate epic look and always feels a little bit like a spy movie. The location photography is superb. The sets are expansive – the Wehrmacht headquarters, Partisan encampment and American airfield all look and feel real in every shot. De Martino captures the scope of some truly massive battle scenes in the final act, complete with hundreds of extras and several tanks. But he isn't afraid to take the camera into front lines, either, giving the audience a personal connection to the action right along with the main characters. The music score, written cooperatively by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai, is quite possibly one the best scores ever written for a war film, by the two greatest Italian composers who ever lived.

Don't let all my praise fool you, though. For everything the writers did right, the roots of the story manage to be muddled and confusing, and there are plenty of poorly explained scenes. For example, in one key sequence, for convenience's sake, O'Connor's plane transforms from a transport to a bomber. And, as usual, the German SS forces don't seem to have brains -- they stand up and charge entrenched infantry who effortlessly mow them down. And, just how do all these American con-men manage to get reunited right in the middle of the war? It's ridiculous to assume that Sesame and Randall wound up imprisoned together, and that Petrowski just happened to be stationed at their POW camp. The nearby presence of their old pal O'Connor simply adds insult to injury. Well, this is all forgivable in the end, because one is expected overlook these little details and just get into the plot.

"The Dirty Heroes" is one of the funnest and most original war films to come out of the 1960s. The action sequences are stunningly staged, and the story is both engaging and suspenseful. The flaws can be ignored; the story is pure escape at its best.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Less straight forward war film than a crime story set during the war this is a fast moving film with a great cast and great action

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
29 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Really good Euro-war/caper film is not strictly speaking a war film. Set in Holland the film concerns some Americans who escape from a POW camp, get hooked up with the Dutch underground and then plan a jewel robbery. There's more to the plot (a lot more) so it best to get yourself a bowl of popcorn and sit down and relax with this fast moving film.

I really liked this film. Its a perfectly modulated Euro-war film that is no more fantastic than any of the dozen or so films I've been watching recently. To be certain the film has little connection to reality, any notion of that disappears early on, about the time our hero makes good his escape with a little extra help. From the point where Adolfo Celi appears the film suddenly grabs you and you realize that whats going on isn't your typical war film. The film also starts to add on layers of complications that to my mind enhance the film not take away from it.

To be certain if you go into this film expecting a straight up war film with some modicum of reality you're bound to be disappointed. However if you take this film as a neat little crime film set during war time then you're going to have a grand old time. Honestly I went into this film not knowing anything about the film since it was badly labeled as part of a multi DVD Multi film set. I had no expectations and I found that I was pleasantly surprised by what I was seeing.

I can't say enough good. The cast is good and the action is first rate. If there is any real problem it would be that the film is probably too long at almost two hours (it seems to end a couple times too many in the final half hour). I think you should search this film out

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

As bad as they get ....

Author: Steve Riley from UK & Germany
15 April 2002

Embarrassingly bad, low-budget Italian-made war movie set in Holland in the dying days of WWII. A tedious, plodding storyline concerning a plot to steal some diamonds from a German HQ, awful acting and dreadful editing make this movie a prize turkey from the opening scene right through to the cringeworthy oh-so-60s `romantic' ending which will have you reaching for the puke bucket - that is if you haven't already reached for the `Off' button long before. The worst performances come from John Ireland as Captain O'Connor and the blonde female lead, whose name escapes me. She plays the `love interest' to our Rugged Leading Man. Perhaps it wasn't entirely her fault, as back then female romantic leads, especially in action movies, were often written as weak, wishy-washy, sobbing, super-sensitive emotional jellyfish. This one is no exception, and the second, supporting female character is just as bad. Simply nauseating to watch. Even the action scenes (which are few and far between, except towards the end) are boring and predictable. Most ludicrously, in the climatic battle, we have Rugged Leading Man and his two mates holed up in some sandbagged bunker and effortlessly gunning down endless attacking Germans right, left and centre. The Germans of course are all terrible shots and even seem to be eager cannon-fodder, as they make little or no effort to take cover, dying spectacularly in droves amid much flailing of arms and comic-book shouts of `AAAAARGH'. This is glorification of war at its very worst. Then suddenly - right in the middle of the battle - the resistance guy pulls up completely unmolested in a stolen German jeep and trots effortlessly along a convenient trench - which leads directly into the bunker and which somehow hundreds of Germans approaching from all sides have failed to spot - and calmly joins Our Heroes inside the bunker. Another scene of crass stupidity that really must be seen to be believed has Captain O'Connor flying over the German lines in a reconnaissance plane which, with the help of some clumsily-inserted old newsreel footage, is suddenly and miraculously transformed into a heavy bomber disgorging its massive payload from wide-open bomb bays and pulverising the Germans beneath, before once more instantaneously reverting to being a small reconnaissance plane again. The concept of an ongoing truce between the resistance fighters and the occupying German army also seems ludicrous to me, yet this is a central theme of the movie. The English title of the film was obviously inspired by `The Dirty Dozen' (which was made around the same time) but it doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. The original Italian title of this film (Dalle Ardenne all' Inferno), the sleeve notes for the English language video release are also grossly misleading. This film has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Battle of the Ardennes. The Ardennes isn't even in Holland - it's a part of Belgium - which indicates that the film-makers' knowledge of World War II events and geography was just as limited as their ability to make even a half-decent film. Don't waste two hours of your valuable time on this rubbish. One of the worst movies I've had the misfortune to sit through - and I've sat through some garbage!!

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Italian War film set in Holland towards the end of WWII

Author: scottyobrian from United Kingdom
24 May 2006

The Dirty Heroes Completely the worst war movie I have ever seen !!!!! talk about stereotypical,the Germans are all terrible shots and seem to be eager cannon-fodder, as they make little or no effort to take cover, dying in a hail of rounds screaming comic book "aieeeeeeeeeeee's" and thats not to mention the "ve haf vays of meking you talk" SS officer...oh my god !!! Another scene that really must be seen to be believed has Captain O'Connor flying over German lines in a reconnaissance plane which,is suddenly and miraculously transformed into a heavy bomber dropping its payload from wide-open bomb bays and pulverising the Germans beneath, before once more instantaneously reverting to being a small reconnaissance plane again. Since when did Recce planes carry bombs and what about the flagrant disregards of any orders !!!! Imagine if Monty had said " Oh Bugger Alamein, I'll attack Cairo instead...

In summary all I can say is avoid at all costs a complete waste of my time, wooden, NSF acting, terrible production costume design a blatant attempt to jump on the Dirty Dozen bandwagon and the only reason I kept watching was to see if it could get any worse !!!!...

(Talking of worse, the Italian and original title of the movie refers to the Ardennes-since when has Amsterdam, Holland, where the film is set, been anywhere near the bleedin Ardennes?...oh lord)

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3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The worst movie in history

Author: dave_hardy-1 from France
10 February 2007

Just watched this offering on movies4men.

I'm not sure if the first poster was watching the same film as the rest of us!

An unbelievable plot (or lack of it), dreadful script, wooden acting even from stars like Curt Jurgens, awful sets with absolutely no basis on historical reality, comic book Nazis, and so on.

This film was so embarrassingly bad it was captivating viewing. I found myself gasping in amazement at the awful cinematography, poor editing and the final clichéd romantic scene was just ....

Sorry (gulp) I can't take any more.

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