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Play Dirty (1969)

 -  Adventure | Drama | War  -  1 January 1969 (UK)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,787 users  
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The Dirty Dozen meet the Stiff Upper Lip. A British Petroleum executive (Michael Caine) is assigned to work with the British Army in North Africa handling port duties for incoming fuels. ... See full summary »

Director:

(as Andre De Toth)

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: Play Dirty (1969)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Capt. Douglas
...
Capt. Cyril Leech
...
Col. Masters
...
Brig. Blore
Patrick Jordan ...
Maj. Alan Watkins
Daniel Pilon ...
Capt. Allwood (Blore's adjutant at Special Forces HQ)
Martin Burland ...
Dead Officer
George McKeenan ...
Corporal at Quayside
Bridget Espeet ...
Ann
Bernard Archard ...
Col. Homerton
Aly Ben Ayed ...
Sadok
Enrique Ávila ...
Kalarides (as Enrique Avila)
Mohsen Ben Abdallah ...
Hassan
Mohamed Kouka ...
Assine
Takis Emmanuel ...
Kostos Manov (as Takis Emmanouel)
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Storyline

The Dirty Dozen meet the Stiff Upper Lip. A British Petroleum executive (Michael Caine) is assigned to work with the British Army in North Africa handling port duties for incoming fuels. This gives him the official rank of Captain in the British Army. The Colonel (Nigel Green) in charge of the Dirty Dozen is told he must have a British officer accompany his men on a dangerous mission 400 miles behind the German lines and is saddled with the Petroleum executive, who tries to argue his way out by saying that his contract states he is to only work port duties. That argument is lost on the Brigade Commander (Harry Andrews) who simply points out that the executive is wearing a British uniform. The real leader of the Dirty Dozen (Nigel Davenport), a released prisoner himself, doesn't need or want the British officer, who's supposed to be in charge, but he's promised an extra 2,000 British Pounds if he gets him back alive. Disguised as Italians, their trek across Rommel's Africa includes ... Written by AzRanger {ArizonaRanger @ Hotmail . com}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Forget the medals, throw away the rule book, if you want to survive.... Play Dirty

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

1 January 1969 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Det beskidte spil  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nigel Davenport was originally cast as "Colonel Masters", but the sudden dismissal of Richard Harris led to his being promoted to the larger role of "Cyril Leech". His original role was taken over by Nigel Green. See more »

Goofs

Cpt. Leech points out that the new minefield in the road isn't shown on British maps. Yet the second British convoy somehow knows to make the same turn, despite Cpt. Douglas' route being the most tactical. See more »

Quotes

Col. Masters: War is a criminal enterprise. I fight it with criminals.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Harry Saltzman: Showman (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Lili Marlene
German Lyrics by Hans Leip
English Lyrics by The Personnel of the Long Range Desert Group and the Special Air Services
Music by Norbert Schultze
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Loyalty means nothing when you got to look after yourself.
2 May 2007 | by (the Mad Hatter's tea party.) – See all my reviews

After a string of failures, Col. Masters is given one last chance by General Blore with his information taken from behind enemy lines, which involves blowing up a Nazi fuel depot in North Africa. Masters gets a seven-man unit of criminals ready, led by mercenary Captain Leech, but Blore wants a British officer in charge and Captain Douglas with his oil experience gets picked. After they head off, we learn that they're a decoy for another patrol to fulfil the assignment, but this is unknown to them. Leech and Douglas clash over who's in command, but Leech sees Douglas' honoured methods aren't well suited for their situation and lets Douglas string them along, as there's a money reward for him if he returns back with Douglas alive.

What hits me straight away is the comparisons to Robert Aldrich's 1967 film "The Dirty Dozen", which gets unfairly lumped onto this feature. Honestly this low-key WW2 British production has some similarities, but it has its own story to tell and it's a real good one too. Andre De Toth's direction is resourcefully efficient and randomly unpredictable in detailing the plight.

What George Marton's originally cunning story does, is leave behind all of those slapdash clichés. Looking for something more compact, taut and venomously scathing. It's so open minded, it's hard to tell what's going to occur next and while there might not be much background to these characters. This shows how expendable these men are when at war, but the lack development can be put down to the character themselves. Their here for the present, and they got a job to be done and there's not time for personal insight, because they just don't care. The custom pattern that occurs in a jaggedly slow tempo feels deliberate by trying to get the viewer to experience the rugged path that could lead to their impending doom, before even encountering the enemy. These are the moments when the tension really holds up. Glory and principal is discarded in very cynical fashion, in favour of primal instinct for one self. These are a unlikeable bunch. Exciting entertainment this is not, because it stays pretty level with the film's natural grit, devious intentions and lack of reasoning for the mission. Thrown in are one or two daring and unusual aspects, like the two candidly gay Arabs. The bone-dry script (penned by Melvyn Bragg and Lotte Colin) simply grits its teeth with bitter, ironic and stern dialogues that snaps with tersely realism. You can just see why this wasn't a commercial success (say like Aldrich's war film), and the sourly unrewarding and sudden conclusion is the icing on the cake. I liked this final curve-ball.

The harshly barren and dusty terrain depicts the unsparing tone of the film superbly with Edward Scaife's illustratively expressive camera-work skilfully mixing its scenic and upfront shots within the aim of the story's actions. Michael Legrand's understated music score is goes by virtually unnoticed, but this only heightens the tension because there's no real cues. Most of the music comes from a radio playing on the journey. De Toth gustily demonstrates convincing action scenes. They might be quick and few, but when they happen it's chaotic, rough and relentlessly staged with conviction. Just look at the eruption of explosions towards the dying end. His pacing can be off and get rather padded, but he never loses what his trying to say within these scenes and actually they probably add more to wearily sparse tone. Michael Caine and Nigel Davenport do a serviceable job in their parts and the pair's edgily unsure relationship is quite a compelling one. Caine's professionally stout and well-judged performance as Captain Douglas works fine and a slyly hard-boiled performance by Nigel Davenport as the rogue Captain Leech is that of high quality and the pick of the lot. Living it up in minor roles are Nigel Green and arrogantly gusto turn by Harry Andrews. The rest of the support roles pale in the light of the two leads. However they are solid and gritty performances that fit the mould.

This one undeservedly gets left in the dark, but this hardy effort is a well made and acted war piece due for rediscovery. Recommended.


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