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Kelly's Heroes (1970)

A group of U.S. soldiers sneaks across enemy lines to get their hands on a secret stash of Nazi treasure.

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(as Troy Kennedy Martin)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Hal Buckley ...
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Jeff Morris ...
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Tom Troupe ...
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Willard (as Dean Stanton)
Dick Balduzzi ...
Gene Collins ...
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Storyline

During World War II a German Colonel is captured by the Americans but before he can be interrogated an artillery barrage hits the camp. However, Ex-Lieutenant Kelly manages to reach the Colonel, get him drunk and learn that he is on a secret mission to ship $16,000,000 of gold to a base in France. Kelly is determined to get the gold and plans for himself and a few of his fellow soldiers to slip into enemy territory and steal the bullion. Written by Dave Jenkins <david.jenkins@smallworld.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Never have so few taken so many for so much. See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Comedy | War

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

23 June 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Kelly's Warriors  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The German Tiger tank commander (played by Karl-Otto Alberty) appears to be a parody--both in appearance and manner of speaking--of Marlon Brando's portrayal of German Lt. Christian Diestl in The Young Lions (1958). See more »

Goofs

The sniper rifle used in the church bell tower is a Russian made Mosin Nagant 91/30 with a 3.5X power side mounted telescope, which is correct for the rifle and time period. However, the rifle fires Russian ammunition, in a caliber unique to the Russian military, which would not have been available to U.S. soldiers in WWII. The 91/30 sniper rifles were however imported in great quantity after World War II by many U.S. importers, and would have been readily available to serve as props in movie making. New England Firearms and Remington Arms, both U.S. companies, fulfilled U.S. contracts to produce approximately 2.8 Million 91/30 rifles after WWI. Both Remington and Winchester produced ammunition for these rifles. While it is highly unlikely that a U.S. soldier would use a 91/30, it was possible. However, no U.S. company made any PU scopes. The acquisition of some of these rifles was possible by U.S. troops in the ETO at the time. See more »

Quotes

Oddball: Who is that guy, Crapgame?
Crapgame: Him? Name's Kelly. Used to be a lieutenant, pretty good one, too, till they gave him orders to attack the wrong hill. Wiped out a half a company of G.I.'s. Somebody had to get the blame and he got picked.
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Connections

Referenced in The 100 Greatest War Films (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Burning Bridges
Sung by Mike Curb Congregation (as The Mike Curb Congregation)
Lyrics by Mike Curb
Music by Lalo Schifrin
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User Reviews

Classic comedy; realistic characters, believable props/scenery.
28 November 2003 | by See all my reviews

Kelly's Heroes does not try to trivialize war. It portrays a comedy within the boundaries of war's absurdity. (Quite frankly, I did not like the film MASH because I felt it did try to trivialize war).

What makes Kelly's Heroes a success is that the director never forgot that the point of comedy is to make us laugh. There's no message here; just pure entertainment.

The film is believable because it stretches, but never steps over, the line of plausibility. The story is preposterous, but in the confusion of war we can believe something like this could happen. Those who have served in the military have all met characters like the ones in Kelly's platoon, even Oddball. Yes, Donald Sutherland was clearly cast out of time, from the 60s, but he somehow personified the rebel in all of us, and that spans generations. If anything, Oddball subliminally told us it was okay to view the film from our vantage point of 1970. His character worked. And so did all the others.

On top of that, the filmmaker spent the extra time and expense to insure reasonable technical accuracy. The uniforms were authentic and I was most impressed by the fact that the vehicles and equipment, for both sides, were accurate. (My biggest gripe about 'Patton' was that it used M-41 tanks for both sides, just painted differently).

The structure of the film is excellent. We believe everything is real. The early scene where the platoon is sitting on the side of the road while a seemingly endless convoy of Sherman tanks passes is a perfect example. There may have only been a few tanks but the way they were looped about continuously gave the impression of 'a cast of thousands'. The Yugoslavian backdrop was reflective of WWII Europe.

Watch this film a few times and you'll catch the slight nuances not normally found the first time through. It's classic how seemingly unimportant early events or dialog enhance the humor of later scenes. For example, when Oddball first shows Kelly his tanks he says they have loud speakers to calm their nerves and paint in their shells to scare the Germans. Early Sherman tanks had a low velocity shell that was ineffective against German armor. Later we roar when Kelly catches a Tiger from its vulnerable rear, but Oddball forgets to fire an anti-tank round and instead splatters it with pink paint! The railroad yard attack scene, (which is superbly choreographed, and tactically accurate) becomes absolutely riotous when Oddball's crew plays 'I've been working on the Railroad' after destroying the place and rumbling away.

Don Rickles should have won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Crapgame. He congeals all the other elements and characters in the film.

The parody scene of 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' is superb. Like Oddball, its being out of time somehow enhances its own effect.

I read somewhere that Clint Eastwood was a bit disappointed with this film because he was not allowed to give it one more edit before its release. I don't know how on earth he could have improved on it.


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