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Worth its weight in gold.
Oro-Indiano21 March 2000
Whilst it would make few people's "All time top ten" lists, I'm hard pressed to think of a film which is so relentlessly enjoyable as "Kelly's Heroes". Part war movie, part comedy, part bank-job caper, the different elements combine seamlessly to produce a distinctive and memorable film.

Clint Eastwood, in an unusually subdued but nonetheless commanding performance, plays the leader of a platoon of restless GIs in the chaos of post D-Day France. When he captures a German officer who just happens to be in possession of a solid gold bar, Clint extracts the necessary information and before you can say "Three Kings", he's hatched a plan to make it 30 miles beyond enemy lines to nab the $16 million stash. He can't do it alone, of course, but has no trouble in convincing his fellow troops that if they're going to be killed in this war, the reward for them should be worth the risk. Enlisting the help of Quartermaster "Crapgame" (Don Rickles) Sergeant "Big Joe" (Telly Savalas) and Sherman tank driver "Oddball" (Donald Sutherland) among others, Kelly and his platoon of ironic "heroes" are soon on their way to an eventual showdown with the German Tiger tank unit guarding the bank...

All too often cross-genre pictures can be let down if the balance isn't right, but that's not the case here because each element is as good as it can be. The action and battle scenes are well executed, especially that in which Oddball and his Shermans attack a German depot. The comic relief is genuinely funny rather than cheesy, and includes a beautiful scene at the climax of the movie which gently parodies Clint's spaghetti-western days, complete with the strains of cod-Morricone music. The suspense is well maintained where necessary, such as the scene where the platoon is caught exposed in the middle of a minefield with a truckload of Germans bearing down on them. And of course there is the ensemble cast, which is uniformly excellent. Keep an eye out for a young Harry Dean Stanton, and Len Lesser, who is better known as Uncle Leo in "Seinfeld". Sutherland's proto-hippie ("Always with them negative waves, Moriarty!") and Carroll O'Connor's manic General Colt are just two performances which live long in the memory, alongside the ever-reliable Eastwood and Savalas.

There are a few points made about the madness and futility of war if that's what you're looking for. Allied bombers knock out bridges by day, German mobile engineers rebuild them by night... neither the Americans or the Germans seem to know what's going on or where their lines are supposed to be... behind the lines our heroes are attacked by their own aircraft... General Colt mistakes Kelly's gold-inspired push for a patriotic determination to end the war, and mobilizes his army to follow him, chastising the staff officers around him for failing to show the same spirit!

But ultimately, this movie is about entertainment rather than political comment. And as such it is one of the most successful examples of its type, as the almost total absence of negative comments from this page should indicate. The script by Troy Kennedy Martin ("The Italian Job") is tight, and direction by Brian G Hutton ("Where Eagles Dare") equally assured. Perhaps regarded as lightweight in comparison to other, more serious "men on a mission" movies such as Robert Aldrich's "The Dirty Dozen" or Hutton's aforementioned "Where Eagles Dare", the film has nonetheless been influential. For example, although David O Russell's "Three Kings" veers off on a tangent and makes more of a serious comment on the US role in the Gulf War, its matchbook plot (ie that which can be written on the back of a matchbook) is the same as "Kelly's Heroes". And in the speakers mounted on the side of Oddball's tanks, used to blast music at the enemy and freak them out, there is more than a hint of the Wagner-playing helicopters in Coppola's "Apocalypse Now", still some nine years hence at the time of this film's release.

In my humble opinion, therefore, "Kelly's Heroes" is a supremely enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. You will be doing yourself a favour if, next time you get the chance, you take a look. It's rare that I see a film and don't think at least once that I'd change something about it, but if there is something to change in "Kelly's Heroes", I don't know what it is. With that in mind, I give it a...

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Great WW2 Buddy Pic
SgtSlaughter5 July 2003
Utterly hilarious World War II adventure picture, with some great acting by all of the leads, fine action sequences and superb scenery.

Kelly (Clint Eastwood) captures a German colonel (David Hurst), who inadvertently tells him where the Germans are hiding $16,000,000 worth of gold bars. Kelly enlists the aid of his platoon to trek behind the German lines and steal the cash.

The movie features a top-notch cast of veterans and would-be stars. Eastwood (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY) has a quiet, serious role and floats through the entire picture. Telly Savalas (PANCHO VILLA) makes a great counterpart as the loud, short-tempered and cynical platoon sergeant. Donald Sutherland (THE EAGLE HAS LANDED) steals the show, though, in a very offbeat role as a hippie-style tank commander. He delivers some utterly 60s dialog with great style and is uproarious. Don Rickles is funny, too, in a smaller role as Crapgame - a rear-echelon supply clerk who goes along on the trek for a profit and gets more than he bargains for. Carroll O'Connor (THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE) has an un-necessary but zany role as General Colt, a blustering officer who can't understand why his red-blooded American soldiers aren't cutting through the German army. The role is obviously a knockoff of George C. Scott in PATTON, and O'Connor does an excellent job.

The supporting cast is fine, too, though not many make much of an impact. Jeff Morris is a hoot as Cowboy, a transplanted Texas hick, with Harry Dean Stanton in support as his sidekick; Stuart Margolin is a jittery radio operator; Len Lesser is a construction officer who gets conned into going along to build a bridge for the guys, and ends getting really screwed over by Kelly's boys; Hal Buckley is the platoon commander who only cares about getting his yacht to Paris; Gene Collins is the baby-faced youngster. David Hurst is lovable as the dim-witted German colonel, and it's really a shame he gets killed - especially by one of his own tanks. Karl Otto Alberty (THE GREAT ESCAPE) has a nice, small role near the end as a Tiger tank commander, and there's an anti-war spin when Kelly and crew let him escape unscathed. Watch for John G. Heller (OPERATION CROSSBOW) as the German patrol leader during the minefield scene.

The movie also features some terrific action scenes. The minefield debacle is suspenseful and nail-biting, and eventually filled with tons of gunfire and neat explosions. The final battle, in which the dozen or so heroes manage to wipe out a garrison of Germans in a small French village is expertly filmed, with some great camerawork and lots of good, convincing special effects. Some major aspects of this sequence were ripped off in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN - Tiger tanks in the street, a sniper in a bell tower, machine gunners firing from bombed-out buildings - the whole general look of the sequence was completely conned.

The Lalo Schiffrin score is light-hearted fun, and Mike Curb Congregation's "Burning Bridges" theme is a good song but doesn't at all fit the theme of the movie. The film was shot in Yugoslavia to take advantage of lower production costs. It actually looks a lot like central France, with plenty of hedgerows, bombed out buildings and such - nothing like the mountains and rivers of THE BATTLE OF NERETVA.

I saw this movie on Turner Classic Movies, appropriately letterboxed at about 2.35:1 with hardly a flaw in the print. Colors are accurate and the image is pretty sharp. TNT used to play an awful, orange-looking print of the movie (with the dialog edited to pieces, also) The audio is fine and sounds clear and loud, but the gunfire and explosions lack intensity. The film is also available on DVD.

KELLY'S HEROES is a witty, lighthearted WWII adventure which I don't think any fan can miss. If you need to sit back and watch American GIs kick German butt for 2 and a half hours for a goal as lofty as pure, all-American greed then this is your flick.
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A war movie buff's guilty pleasure.
k_rkeplar9 August 2004
I'm the first one to rant at ridiculous war movies. The history has to be right, the uniforms, and so on and so on. Plots have to be creditable or I'm the first one to cry foul. But then there comes along movies like Kelly's Heroes. It's violent and meaningless really...but funny and very exciting. The gear is accurate for the most part, which is far more than I can say about the bulk of so called serious war films. Even with the infamous Tiger tank the film makers attempted to at least make the Russian built Yugoslav T53s they were using look like Tigers. I think they were T53s, they did such a good job of making them look like Tigers it's hard to tell. The whole film is a 1960s anti-establishment slant thrown on a pretty standard WWII story about GIs on a mission behind the German lines. In this parallel universe John Wayne type mission, these guys are out for number one. It's their mission, not the US Army's or the Allies. With a headlines crazy General chasing behind them with his photographer looking to pin medals on "his boys" for piercing the German lines and apparently leading his "charge", they're heading for a town full of Germans guarding a bank with three Tiger tanks. Clint Eastwood has to pick up the means to complete this personal mission along the way without the secret leaking out. We even have 1960s Hippies in this silly war torn 1940s world. Donald Sutherland is a riot as a stoned Sherman tank commander who seems to have stepped into a timewarp and emerged in 1944 and found himself at the helm of an armored unit. Several then unknowns are in the film, including Harry Dean Stanton and Gavin Mcleod. Beautiful scenery and photography shot in what was then Yugoslavia. Excellent attention to equipment detail. Good, if over the top, performances all around. Suspense and excitement. Very funny. And possibly the silliest pothole laden plot to ever pass itself off as a war movie. If you're a war movie buff with a sense of humor you'll love it.
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Impossible to duplicate
ss592129 July 2003
There will never be a cast of characters brought together for one movie which could compare to this one. Clint Eastwood shows that he can be good at being quite serious, humorous, and even let other people steal scenes without losing presence. The real difference though lies in the rest of the cast which is a group of All-Stars who excel at certain type characters the likes of which you can not find today. Examples: Telly Savalas showing why he would become a MAJOR TV star later, Don Rickles being Don Rickles but keeping his movie character true to the film, Carroll O'Connor showing that greatness was just around the corner for him, and Donald Sutherland is just too good for words. What really makes this movie though is unlike other movies which bring together a lot of big names and top character actors, Kelly's Heroes did not lose focus on the importance of the plot. THe story never gets lost to the characters. Absolutely great job!
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A good deal of humor with explosive action...
Nazi_Fighter_David5 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The story is in the funny-macho style of 'The Dirty Dozen', with more emphasis on the fun... The film is set during World War II in post-D-Day France... The plot is a simple one, guaranteeing the minimum of complexity and the maximum of action...

Private Kelly (Eastwood) abducts a German colonel and accidentally discovers the whereabouts of a fortune in gold...

Being less interested in winning the war than in a little self-enrichment, he decides to liberate the hoard privately...

Being unable to take on the Nazi war-machine single-handed, he sees himself obliged to recruit some fellow conspirators... So he takes Telly Savalas, the top skeptical sergeant who initially vetoes the move, but changes his mind when it becomes clear that he cannot stop his men from going; Don Rickles, the hustler who can easily provide any weapon; and Donald Sutherland, the bizarre leader of a Sherman-tank squad, whose life style consists of getting high on drugs and meditating to unorthodox music... Sutherland, in fact, very nearly steals the film in his role of a spaced-out tank commander...

Certain amusing touches stand out in this piece of satire: The blazing battle led by Oddball's tanks, complete with inspiring music; the very suspenseful climax that makes the audience tingle with the fear that the soldiers' plan may fail; the title song, 'Burning Bridges,' which perfectly fits the mood of the film; and the wonderful parody of 'The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly,' with Eastwood and his gangster force advancing on a German tank guarding the gold to the strains of Ennio Morricone's memorable score...

Carroll O'Connor plays the egotist happy general who sees the move as nothing more than a group of dedicated soldiers taking the war into their own hand...
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Great Fun!
artzau22 June 2001
Interesting enough, reading through the comments on this film, I noted only one detractor, some sorehead from Canada who completely missed the point of the film. No, Sr. Canadiense. This is not a serious film about WW2. Read some of the excellent commentaries here about the social and temporal context of this film, i.e., the height of the Vietnamese war. Yes, Sutherland, your fellow countryman, was an active anti-war protester and fully embraced the anachronistic hippie role. The mad-cap story which tweaks the nose of the "establishment," in this case, the military establishment, is plausible when you let go of the blood, guts and glory of the war film genre. And, it is a damn funny film. Eastwood is at his clenched jaw, cynical best; Savalas is great as the Sergeant big-guy; Carrol O'Conner is riotious as the general; Rickles is, well, Rickles. But, Sutherland steals the show. The scenes where they tanks come out blasting the Germans to the tune of twangy Country-Western music is hilarious. Sutherland's out-of-time-sync " negative vibes... hey, man...yeah, baby..." is side-splitting. The final confrontation scene between the three striding up to the German tank commander, with Sutherland loosening his side arm, ala Clint Eastwood in Fist full of Dollars is a riot. This film is full of funny stuff. And, you can see it again and again and find new business to laugh about. Buffs will delight at seeing Harry Dean Stanton in a pre-Repo Man role and Richard Davalos who played James Dean's doomed brother Aron in East of Eden. This is a great piece of satire that was overlooked, cast aside and has still survived to the delight of those of us who enjoy it again and again. But, hey, don't just take my word for it. Of the 30 or so commentaries here-- and do read them, as there are some excellent ones-- only one was a detractor.
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Classic and Great
bdenny2913 July 2004
This movie is simply great. The guy who wrote the other review is flat wrong. He contests that anyone no from the era won't like it. I was born in 1982, and it's in my top 5. It has one of the best casts around, with Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland, and Carroll O' Connor. It has action and humor, what more could you want. It is a great film, hands down. Do yourself a favor and view its splendor. The Mike Curb song is great and catchy, the editing is on par with any other movie, and the plot, although improbable, is entertaining. All told, it gets a 9.5/10.
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Classic comedy; realistic characters, believable props/scenery.
eaglejet9828 November 2003
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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A different kind of war movie...
KShrew6 April 1999
Kelly's Heroes is a difficult movie to describe -- somewhat a cross between a good war movie and a black comedy. The chemistry between Savalas, Eastwood, Rickles, and Sutherland really makes this movie. The combat scenes are some of filmdom's best...close to the Kubrick-directed scenes in Dr. Strangelove.
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A two for one movie
tschmid26 February 1999
Kelly's Heros brilliantly mixes your average war movie with a bank robbery movie to come up with a plot that's entirely unique.

Equipped with an all-star cast, Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas play the straight guys to the comic antics of Donald Sutherland and Don Rickles. The movie makes no moral judgements about bad guys and good guys and simply shows the characters of both sides a path to redemption in the midst of war. In addition, the theme song, "Burning Bridges" is rendered with a youthful tone by the Mike Curb Congregation, which reminds us that in reality, people not much removed from childhood are the ones sent into battle.

We cheer when they get their just rewards.
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Great Anti-establishment/caper film
garabaldi1215 December 2002
Kelly's Heroes is an exciting World War 2 capers film. The cast led by Eastwood, Sutherland, Rickles and Sevalas create a group of likable, if slightly unorthodox, WW2 GI's who set out to secretly steal 16 million dollars worth of Nazi gold held in a French bank behind enemy lines. The WW2 setting hides the fact that this film is really more of a caper/adventure film than anything else. The film succeedes in captivating and thrilling the audience with it action,while humoring it with its tongue and cheek and irreverent style. In this way the Kelly's Heroes shares much in common with films like Ocean's 11. To its credit, while Kelly's Heroes is anti-establishment,it is not some shallow, preachy anti-war film so typical of later films of the 70's and 80's. While it shares some traits of anti-war films(incompetent leadership and wasteful tactics) it doesn't ever really take an over moralizing "war is hell" stance. Indeed, while the "heroes" do rebel against the "establishment"(their officers) ,their rebellion is motivated by plunder and personal profit, not because they feel war is morally wrong or unjustified. Likewise while Sutherland's Oddball has many hippie traits as has been pointed out, his tactical skill as a tanker and willingness to kill for profit are hardly "hippie" in nature. While the anti-establishment stance of the film is indeed motivated by the time in which it was made(1970), the film could have just as easily been set in any place or time period, with or without a war as a background. The setting of the film in world war 2 however helps the audience immediately elicit sympathy with the main characters(American soldiers), despite the illegal/unauthorized action which they undertake and the neccesarily violent methods which they use to accomplish their task(killing Nazis). Despite this the film's portrayal of world war 2 tactics and equipment are excellent,and gives the film a sense of realism,excitement and seriousness that it wouldn't otherwise have. All in all, Kelly's Heroes one of my favorite heist films and one of the better looks at the irreverent and rebellious side of soldiers in war.
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Under-rated wartime caper.
Jonathon Dabell8 September 2004
Clint Eastwood reunites with his Where Eagles Dare director Brian G. Hutton for another improbable but entertaining WWII caper. Kelly's Heroes has its moments of wartime spectacle and lots of slambang action, but it also has plenty of comedy thrown in. Many critics judged the film quite harshly, groaning about how it is inappropriate for a film to mix jokes and war. But in truth, Kelly's Heroes never pretends to be a serious wartime account - and the humorous undercurrent helps the film rather than hampering it.

A bunch of American GIs are given a few days away from the battlefront during WWII. However, they are not overly impressed with the quiet, excessively peaceful and "boozeless" village where they've been told to relax. One member of the group, Kelly (Eastwood), has learned of a fortune in Nazi gold bullion hidden away in a bank in a German-occupied town some thirty or more miles behind enemy lines. He tells the other guys about it, and they decide to risk their lives to get hold of the hoard. Of course, pulling off a bank robbery is no easy task at the best of times, but when the bank is so far into enemy territory......

Eastwood is suitably laid-back here, but the real stars of the show are Telly Savalas (dynamic and hilarious as Big Joe) and Donald Sutherland (a hippy tank driver so chilled-out he's happy to eat cheese, drink wine and sunbathe in the middle of a chaotic battle!) The pyrotechnics are well-orchestrated, and Troy Kennedy Martin invests the script with the kind of amusing banter and thrilling set pieces that he gave to The Italian Job a year earlier. Kelly's Heroes is totally unsubtle and totally removed from reality - but what it lacks in tact it makes up for with spectacular destruction and bags of entertainment.
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I think this is one of the best movies ever made.
babafrby22 November 2001
This movie has top notch entertainment with virtually no cursing and excess violence (a nice alternative to today's production standards).

Clint Eastwood and Donald Southerland are at their best, the story line and writing are excellent!

I watch this movie often - if perchance you have never seen this movie, rent it today. Enjoy!
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A great mix of genres
rbstern12 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Is it a war movie? Is it a heist movie? It it an adventure? Is it a comedy? Is it a social commentary? Yes. And all in good fun.

Great cast, excellent action sequences, decent level of war realism. It effectively employs a cynical style of insulting humor that was very mainstream back in the 1970s (remember the Dean Martin celebrity roasts?), along with a war movie style that was also common for that decade.

Clint Eastwood is great as the lead, but he's the straight man to Telly Savalas and Donald Southerland, who are the real gems in this cast. The rest of the supporting cast is an ensemble of generally good character actors from the 1960s and 1970s, and as a group, they turn in a fine performance.

It's simply a fun movie that should be enjoyed without too critical an eye.
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From Zeroes to Heroes
dunmore_ego2 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It is World War II. A small troop of American soldiers surrounds the German-occupied French village of Claremont, closing in slowly over the rooftops and through the ruins. Thirty miles behind enemy lines, isolated from their own army, one Sherman tank their only armored support against three superior German Tiger tanks, they're not here to fight a battle.

They're here to rob a bank.

With characters like Pvt. "Barbara," Pvt. "Cowboy," "Little Joe" (jumpy Stuart Margolin), "Crapgame" (whining Don Rickles), "Big Joe" (rough-hewn Telly Savalas), "Pvt. Willard" (Harry Dean Stanton, actually looking young - well, young-ISH), "Oddball" (a mind-expanded Donald Sutherland) and the unruffled, smooth operator, Kelly (Clint Eastwood, gliding through this movie like a Private With No Name), *Kelly's Heroes* invented the word "ragtag." Up against these guys, American troops in previous films portrayed as impertinent insubordinates looked like altar boys.

These misfits learn of a cache of 14,000 German gold bars behind enemy lines and – led by Pvt. Kelly - take a detour from their futile war effort to heist it. Kinda like *The Dirty Dozen* without the meticulous planning. One: down to the road block we've just begun. Two: the guards are through. Three: we're ALL on a spree!...

Released smack in the midst of the Viet Nam war (1970), the film's coterie of quirky characters more readily reflects that era's disheveled anti-establishmentarians, rather than the somewhat grittier G.I.'s of the actual Second World War. Which accounts for Oddball's hippie commune of actual "flower children" – a species that did not yet exist at the time of this movie's supposed period.

Chief crewman of Oddball's cadre of three Sherman tanks is Moriarty (engine-oiled Gavin MacLeod, long before he captained The Love Boat, here piloting The Love *Tank*), incessantly being accused and mispronounced by Oddball, "Always with the negative waves, Moriaritty! Always with the negative waves!" In their quest to pull off the perfect crime, with an actual pot of gold (worth 16 million dollars) at journey's end, Kelly's "heroes" inadvertently win battle after battle, carving a swathe of allied territory straight through the heart of German occupation – to the chagrin and delight of General Colt (frenetic Carroll O'Connor), who believes these troops are ploughing patriotically through enemy lines despite the hesitance of their commanders.

Languidly directed by Brian G. Hutton (who also directed the other Eastwood war movie of this era, *Where Eagles Dare*), this movie would have fared better – as a more entertaining diversion and as a better story - if it had concentrated on the aspects which *separated* it from other war movies of its day - the "heist" angle and the "comedy" - rather than adhering to war movie convention so perfunctorily: machine guns blaze away at every opportunity, mowing down Germans who couldn't hit the side of a barn, with carpet-bombing padding out large segments of screen time. Being a "war movie," Hutton obviously received a fat explosives budget - and by Jerry Bruckheimer he was going to use it! By the time they reach Claremont, Kelly's armada of companies has been whittled down to only his troop and Oddball's one remaining Sherman. Meanwhile, General Colt drives headlong to Claremont to meet up with Kelly's troop, not realizing that if he did, instead of handing out the medals he brings, he'd have to court-martial the lot of them.

After his troop disables two Tigers, Kelly must find a more subtle way to subvert the last remaining Tiger, dug in directly in front of the gold-laden bank.

And Sergio Leone comes to the rescue! In a scene directly spoofing one of Clint's own *Dollar* standoffs, he faces down - across an expanse of dusty street - a Tiger tank. Joined by Sutherland and Savalas, and accompanied by Lalo Schifrin's score emulating one of Ennio Morricone's evocative passages (i.e. close your eyes and you're back in *For A Few Dollars More*), they grimly (yet almost smirking for the audacity of the in-joke) stalk towards the tank, whose occupants silently regard this display of bravado - or temporary insanity. All that's missing are the spurs and ponchos.

From out of the tank steps the commander (Karl-Otto Alberty, oozing such searing Nazi authenticity it's a wonder he wasn't indicted for war-crimes after the film). Kelly's plan: like any good American entrepreneur – to Make A Deal. "All you have to do to have an equal share in this money is crank that turret around – and blow a hole in that door." Once again, though other movies may have united Germans and Americans in touching tableaux serving to illustrate the meaninglessness of war, this movie unites them in a decidedly Marxist twist - the proletariat partners in crime united against the capitalistic *bourgeoisie*.

Amidst the French celebrating in the street (thinking they have been liberated), with General Colt mistaken for de Gaulle by the revelers and mobbed before he can discover the decimated bank and American soldiers making off with its loot, Lalo Schifrin's and Mike Curb's strangely nostalgic and immortally memorable theme, *Burning Bridges*, plays out the credits, as Kelly's unlikely heroes load the last of the gold onto their truck and drive off – literally – into the sunset.

(Movie Maniacs, visit:
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Oh, baby, this mother-beautiful film's loaded with positive waves...
Shane Paterson7 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
(** spoilers ahead**)

I didn't see this movie until 15 years or so after its release, but when I was a little kid I heard the "Burning Bridges" theme in heavy rotation on the radio and it instantly appealed. I should have known that the movie would, too, and this is one of those films that I can watch over and over again without tiring. It seems to be that they really don't make 'em like they used to, and the few years between the late '60s and mid-'70s produced some of the best war-themed (and this would include anti-war) films ever made. Most of them were built around stories that could actually have been told in a similar way in another setting. This film is an example of that principle, as is "Catch 22" and -- though I somehow seem to have managed to miss it thus far, definitely not by design -- "M*A*S*H*" ("Apocalypse Now" is a slightly later example, in that it could have been set in any conflict or, as in the novel from which it drew inspiration, in what passes for peacetime). The cast is great and it's probably that as much as anything that has the power to keep me watching this long film to its conclusion even after multiple viewings. Pretty much everyone's perfectly cast, and all do a great job with balancing the real nastiness of war (that does intrude now and then) with the more comedic elements that really define the film. For me, the primary attraction of this movie and its most unforgettable character -- is Oddball, the Sherman tank commander played to perfection by Donald Sutherland in all his hippiesque glory. Every second that Oddball has on screen is classic, his way-out-ness being all the more exaggerated by contrast with Clint Eastwood's generally stony façade and the pragmatism of Telly Savalas' character. The three primary leads actually make up a pretty good yin-yangish kind of composite person, the tightly reined-in but actually quite visionary cynic in Kelly, the practical and cautioning skeptic in Big Joe, and the free thinking Oddball. All of the actors, including those in relatively minor roles, are superb, but who could forget Oddball's all knowing facial expressions, as if only he were privy to some private joke, his admonitions that Moriarty quit with the 'negative waves,' his out-of-left-field dog imitations (both of them, including his "other dog imitation"), his kicking back with some wine and cheese and "catching some rays" during the final battle, etc, etc, etc. He's a visionary, too, with his idea of playing music during his attacks -- did Coppola get the idea for that classic helicopter- gunship "Valkyries" scene in "Apocalypse Now" from this movie? Oddball's very existence makes the film somewhat self-aware, but the scene that perhaps brings this home more than any other (and hopefully dispels any viewer's lingering suspicion that this is primarily a 'serious' war movie) is the Tombstone-style 'showdown' with the last operational Tiger tank, complete with dubbed-in jangling spurs as tribute to Clint Eastwood's spaghetti- western legacy. I could see how some might not like such a movie, but I love it. The producers also did a nice job of keeping things authentic, other than the jarring anachronism that is Oddball and his crew of proto-hippies (though I'm prepared to accept that they anticipated the first wave of the Beat Generation, the likely explanation is that they're a deliberately contrived ironic reference to the period during which the film was made -- a kind of bridge, albeit not burning). The Yugoslavian locations fit the story and are convincing as a stand-in for WWII France. The US military hardware is accurate as are German uniforms and, as far as I could tell (I wasn't scrutinizing every gun), their hardware. The SdKfz halftrack that the German patrol at the minefield used may have been a gussied-up US version -- I didn't really stop to look -- but that's no big deal, not particularly obvious in the film, and more than forgivable in that the film's makers put so much thought into mocking up Tiger I tank bodies on what were really Soviet T-34 tanks. That was a nice touch, especially for a movie that does not take itself particularly seriously, is not a serious study of war (though war forms its background, people die, the pointlessness of war is highlighted, and the enemy's not painted as one-dimensional fiends -- indeed, the movie's real enemies, in some ways, are Allied commanders). I like that the remnants of Kelly's Heroes teamed up with the SS Panzer commander (divisional markings correct for the elite 1st SS Panzer Division 'Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler,' as far as I know) to share the spoils, too, further bolstering the message that it's war itself, rather than people that wear different uniforms, that is the soldier's enemy. My capsule summary, I guess, would be that watching this excellent movie is a very enjoyable way to spend a thoroughly entertaining 2-1/2 hours. Woof, woof. That's my other dog imitation.
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not as i remember it.
jeff carroll17 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I got this movie out awhile back to have a family showing of a film that i enjoyed when first released. That was a mistake. I remembered it as a comedy, what i saw on the screen was a very graphic war adventure a la Peckinpah. Sure it was still humorous, but it was also violent,especially the railway scene,even with the soundtrack. It just goes to show what sticks in your mind and what doesn't. All said and done though it's a very good film. The anachronism of Oddball is no different to that of Shakespeare in some of his plays - such things are included to shed light. The American army may have been stiff but I'm sure the Aussies and the Kiwis would have had such characters, and as someone else said 'the tankers were a breed apart' as were the submariners. It's a great movie, but not for all the family.
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enjoyable from start to finish
leefaust10 November 2003
a great military comedy. refreshing and very well acted by all. the story is obvious but the approach could benefit some newer movies. very limited "special effects" keep the action on the acting and rewards the viewers with great actors: Savalas, Eastwood, Sutherland, and O'Connor shine.
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Simply the best...
armorrulesb110217 December 2003
It creates a specific time (mid July 1944), a specific unit (35th Infantry) and a specific place (near St Lo and Nancy)

The accuracy is top-notch, the cast is top-notch. "Oddball" is not a '70s character as he is the Bohemian in all of us and tank crewmen were and are that strange. One tank commander in France in 1944 was known for carrying a colt 38 rather than the issued 45 and wearing cowboy boots. Some did effect Aviation leather jackets like Oddball, and yes there are plenty of pictures of soldiers with beards.

I was in the amry for 11 years and a tank crewman, and we all quoted the movie and we loved the character of Oddball, and when off the line he was all fun and games, when in action, he was all business, just the way real tankers were and still are.

Armor rules!
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Heroic Movie
screenman24 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A great cast of popular stars, are perfectly chosen for their ability to play it tongue-in-cheek. Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland in particular have demonstrated their ability to pitch anything from straight, comic and crazy in other movies.

It's a heist behind enemy lines. There's millions of dollars in gold just waiting for some military enterprise. Clint Eastwood plays a straightlaced GI who decides to turn soldier-of-fortune when he discovers this stash of bullion is inadequately guarded just 30 miles beyond their advance. The post D-day German defences are crumbling, and in the confusion he and his team might just pull-off the perfect crime.

Right from the outset, this is a great action movie. Clint and Telly's outfit find themselves caught-up in fierce combat. There's tremendous pyrotechnics here and what look like real Tiger tanks, not disguised American hardware. It's tense, vigorous and exciting stuff, but with a thread of ironic comedy all the way. Each of the principal characters is simply, but clearly stamped. They're flawed, likable and we care about them - as we should.

Using a couple of 'specimen' gold bars, Eastwood's character co-opts and bribes whatever and whoever he needs to succeed in the caper, inadvertently shortening WW2 in the process.

Throughout the movie there is some of the most splendid wartime action drama in any work of its vintage. Yes; the Germans are slaughtered wholesale as usual - but who cares? There is also one of the most entertaining close-quarter tank encounters of just about any movie - including the epic 'Battle Of The Bulge'. Sutherland's solitary Sherman goes up against 3 Tigers in the confined streets of a French village, employing its manoeuvrability and surprise.

That last conflict is extremely well realised. A surprisingly generous level of base rewards the use of subwoofers, as these roaring dragon-like machines compete in the rural ideal. At the same time, as the ambush is prepared, a simple rhythmical riff gathers instrumental complexity, ratcheting-up the tension in a way that is both simple and effective. The riff doesn't get faster; more instruments are gradually included into the given tempo. A similar trick was employed in 'Henry V' of 1935 vintage. I'm surprised it isn't used more often.

The action is realistic, the humour never jars with the tragedies that befall our heroes, locations are wonderfully evocative - I was convinced that this was shot in France, filming, editing and other technical issues all hit the spot. As a piece of action entertainment - wartime or otherwise - its hard to fault.

You couldn't improve upon this movie even today. For one thing, the players simply don't exist who could fill these collective characters. Neither could the combat scenes be more intense or realistic whilst retaining the comic thread.

In terms of what it has to offer, this movie, then, is very much a one-off. Very highly recommended.
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Stop with the Negative waves!!!
doherty-elle8 June 2006
This brilliantly manic film was Hollywood's second message about the madness of war (the first of course being M.A.S.H) starring the ever-steadfast Clint Eastwood as a battle-weary lieutenant who learns about a stash of gold: Only problem is it's behind enemy lines, but the prize is too much to ignore so he sets about bringing a motley crew of soldiers together. His recruits range from the hard-boiled yet disciplined Big Joe (a great turn by Telly Savalas) and the relentless hustling of Sgt Crapgame (Don Rickles) The platoon start off reluctant and wary of their mission but soon slip easily into being soldiers of fortune as well as warfare and the comradeship is soon apparent as they battle the Germans while trying to find the banks that houses the gold.

This film also has one of the best show-stealing characters in Cinema, the loosest but most lovable of loose cannons; Tank Commander Sgt Oddball (masterful performance by Donald Sutherland) it's well-known he was seriously ill while filming. The film direction is permanently tongue-in-cheek as nothing but the war machines tells you it's WWII; the slang, the attitude everything screams 1960's but that gives you just another excuse to love it!!
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One Of The Best
Mr Blue-45 September 2005
I've grown up with this film, thanks to all the times CBS used to run it, and cable channels since then. I never tire of it. A near perfect combination of action and comedy. The film's wisecracking is not only appropriate to the subject matter but to the environment the film found itself made and released in (the height of the Vietnam War).

The turmoil of the Vietnam era casts a shadow on the film, yet at the same time it stands on its own, very much timeless in a way. The one exception being Donald Sutherland's Oddball character, who remains one of the best things about this 1945-era film while his presence screams Woodstock.

Watching it today, it points out a tremendous flaw in TODAY's Hollywood. The casting. "Kelly's Heroes" is rich with character actors, who are not only able in firing off lines at each other (Rickles and Savalas particularly) but also in holding the screen in saying nothing. I think every fan of the film knows exactly what I mean and would agree with me that the mentality guiding the production of films today is simply horrific.
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Not Your Average War Movie
DannyMiz24 April 1999
First and foremost Kelly's Heros is a highly entertaining war movie with an all-star cast. It is easily one of the funniest war movies ever made. In addition, KH has a lot of realistic battle sequences, likable characters and the bank heist sub-plot is very unique. There are some real good reasons why this movie is one TNT all the time.
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really good film
astrith1 March 2002
hehe, the film is really good, great act of Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas and of course the best DONALD SUTHERLAND, yea he is the best indeed.

Film is fine war comedy, what can i say more, film is just great, worth to look it :))
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Crackerjack WWII heist flick
ggh629 January 2001
Released at the height of the Viet Nam conflict, "Kelly's Heroes" did not amuse critics, who found a light-hearted war film in extremely poor taste at a time when thousands of American boys were becoming casualties of a highly controversial military action. Thirty years on, however, it has become something of a popular classic.

More a caper film in a WWII setting than an actual war pic, "Kelly's Heroes" follows the exploits of a motley platoon of G.I.'s as they attempt to 'liberate' 14,000 gold bars from a bank 30 miles behind German lines. The script is a gem, focusing on the mechanics of organising "the perfect crime" without tipping off Army bureaucracy, or the enemy, and is chock-full of memorable lines and authentic touches that sell the unlikely premise (for example, a major plot point revolves around the well-documented inferiority of the US Sherman tank vs. the German Tiger I).

Nearly the entire cast turns in memorable performances: Telly Savalas as Big Joe (basically Sgt. Rock come to life), Carroll O'Conner as a clueless, blood 'n' guts General, Don Rickles as a mercenary quartermaster, Donald Sutherland as a hilarious proto-hippie tank commander, and numerous other recognisable faces in smaller roles. Clint Eastwood plays his usual tight-lipped tough guy, and wisely leaves the jokes to the rest of the cast.

Director Brian G. Hutton, hot off the success of "Where Eagles Dare", was given a big budget to play with, and puts the money to use blowing up whole companies of faceless Nazis in several spectacular battle sequences. Well-chosen Yugoslavian locations stand in for 1944 France.

The DVD version released in late 2000 is of excellent quality. Beware of the version often shown on television; numerous minor cuts have been made and the image cropped from the original widescreen format.
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