During World War II, a rebellious U.S. Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers.

Director:

Robert Aldrich

Writers:

Nunnally Johnson (screen play by), Lukas Heller (screen play by) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,354 ( 474)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lee Marvin ... Major Reisman
Ernest Borgnine ... General Worden
Charles Bronson ... Joseph Wladislaw
Jim Brown ... Robert Jefferson
John Cassavetes ... Victor Franko
Richard Jaeckel ... Sergeant Bowren
George Kennedy ... Major Max Armbruster
Trini López ... Pedro Jiminez (as Trini Lopez)
Ralph Meeker ... Captain Stuart Kinder
Robert Ryan ... Col. Everett Dasher Breed
Telly Savalas ... Archer Maggott
Donald Sutherland ... Vernon Pinkley
Clint Walker ... Samson Posey
Robert Webber ... General Denton
Tom Busby ... Milo Vladek
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

D-Day Began When The Dirty Dozen Were Done! See more »

Genres:

Action | Adventure | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

(at around 1h 30 mins) As the group rests following the crossing of the impact area, Maj Armbruster asks Wlasislaw what they're waiting for. He replies, "A jeep, a heavy machine gun, and 4 men." When the jeep and the men arrive they have an M1919, 30 caliber, medium machine gun with them. See more »

Quotes

Major John Reisman: Boy, do I love that Franko.
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Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

In Germany, in the German-language dubbed version, audiences saw only Jim Brown throwing hand grenades into the airshafts at the chateau. The scenes showing grenades being dumped into, and gasoline being poured into, the airshafts were cut. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Escape to Athena: Cast and Crew Interviews (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles
(uncredited)
Music by Joseph Haydn
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User Reviews

 
A well structured and interesting story, although poorly edited in the final act
20 February 2005 | by Rich BSee all my reviews

It's difficult when you approach an old movie to see it for the first time and you have to try and drop all the baggage associated with it from reviews and analysis over the years. The Dirty Dozen is such a movie. I just watched it for the first time last night on TV, clipped though it was for those smaller brained people among us who don't like to see dark bits at the top and bottom of their screens.

It's interesting that there are three real character acts to this movie. There's the dark opening and character introduction, the fun act where the characters meld together into a team, and the closing act where the mission, and the war, become a stark and deadly reality. That last act is dark too, although there a couple of accidental laughs in there for the worst character expression at a death ever, and one particularly bad death scene.

What does strike you about the opening is how really dark it all is. We're talking about murders who are looking at to be retrained. Indeed one is a rapist with a serious God complex who is bordering on utterly insane. They are about to be hanged for their crimes, but have one last chance. Poor Major John Reisman has no say in the matter, he has his band and has to make them work.

It's well filmed for the first two character acts, and the acting is very good. John Cassavetes and Telly Savalas are wonderful in their roles. In fact it's a surprise to see Savalas in such a role and shining so brightly. Donald Sutherland also shows he has some excellent character acting in him. The rest are far from bad, but you can see a lot of typecasting for them.

The movement from the dark opening to the more jovial training act is interesting to watch, as this is exactly how many of the characters are seeing it, as a bit of fun. What they aren't expecting is the third character act, that of the actual war itself, and for some this proves too much.

The difficulty I had with the final act is only in the filming. There are premature cuts, awkward angles and jumping storytelling. So much is missed by the camera, and it doesn't feel like it's there to let your imagination run, it seems like someone has cut the film deliberately, and quite badly. There are quite a few scene transitions that just don't work at all.

However, where it doesn't fail is bringing the characters to their ultimate journey, that of redemption and a renewed desire to fight for their Major, and their fellow men. They become soldiers, and indeed heroes.

It's a good war film to watch, very well structured and reflective of the characters journeys. It's just that final act for me which spoiled my enjoyment, and purely in the filming of it.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | German | French | Spanish | Latin

Release Date:

22 October 1967 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dirty Dozen See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,400,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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