Operation Market Garden, September 1944: The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines. However, mismanagement and poor planning result in its failure.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Lee Marvin provided technical assistance with uniforms and weapons to create realistic portrayals of combat, yet bitterly complained about the falsity of some scenes. He thought Reisman's wrestling the bayonet from the enraged Posey to be particularly phony. Director Robert Aldrich replied that the plot was preposterous, and that by the time the audience had left the cinema, they would have been so overwhelmed by action, explosions, and killing, that they would have forgotten the lapses. See more »
Col. Breed wears Senior Parachutist Wings throughout this picture. This qualification badge did not exist until 1949, five years after the setting. See more »
John Wayne who apparently was offered the part of Major Reisman probably wisely turned it down. Wayne would never have done in the part of the maverick major in charge of training the way Lee Marvin was so perfect in the role. In fact Marvin's and the performance of others in the cast helped The Dirty Dozen get over two very big improbable situations I have always found in this film.
The first one being the way the conflict between Robert Ryan and Lee Marvin is handled. I can certainly see why a spit and polish West Point graduate like Ryan would not like Marvin, why Marvin would rub him the wrong way. But I cannot understand why when the Dozen are transferred to his command for parachute training they don't tell him what's going on. I would think he would have a need to know. Then again a whole big part of the film wouldn't have occurred if Ryan had been let in on Marvin's mission.
The second thing is that granted these guys might be considered expendable to say the least with several of the dozen scheduled for a firing squad, but the army would want to make sure the mission had some chance of succeeding. There's no way, absolutely no bloody way, that a psychotic like Telly Savalas would have been allowed on the mission. And why Lee Marvin didn't scrub him when psychiatrist Ralph Meeker offered to is beyond me as well.
Those glaring holes in the story have always prevented me from giving The Dirty Dozen the top rating that most have given it. But it hasn't prevented me from enjoying the film.
The basic idea of the film appeals to me. An unorthodox major taking a group of nonconformists to say the least and making them a crack fighting outfit. Regular army training did not do it for this crew the first time around.
Charles Bronson is one of the dozen and this film certainly put him well on the way to top billing. A dozen years later in fact he'd have it over Lee Marvin in Death Hunt. Jim Brown also having just finished his football career began his movie career with a winning performance as another of the dozen. John Cassavetes was singled out for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Also Donald Sutherland got his first real notice as yet another of the dozen.
A year later William Holden and Cliff Robertson did The Devil's Brigade which bore a lot of resemblance to The Dirty Dozen. It got slammed by critics for ripping off from The Dirty Dozen. The only problem was that Holden's film was based on a real outfit and The Dirty Dozen is pure fiction. Only in movieland.
Marvin's mission is to infiltrate and kill a lot of the German high command as they gather at a French château in the weeks before D-Day. How he does is something you have to watch The Dirty Dozen before. But I think you'll like seeing what happens.
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