6.8/10
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34 user 24 critic

Play Dirty (1969)

During the Desert War in North Africa, a group of British commandos disguised in Italian soldiers must travel behind enemy lines and destroy a vital Nazi oil depot.

Director:

André De Toth (as Andre De Toth)

Writers:

Melvyn Bragg (screenplay), Lotte Colin (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

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

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence including a sexual assault | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Arabic | German

Release Date:

1 January 1969 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Dai shinryaku See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

René Clément quit after Richard Harris left the project. See more »

Goofs

If the Brits could overfly the fuel dump to photograph it (near the end of the film), they could bomb it. See more »

Quotes

Capt. Douglas: ...How did the other English officers die?
Capt. Cyril Leech: Unexpectedly.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Simon Simon (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

J'attendrai
(uncredited)
Music by Dino Olivieri
Italian lyrics by Nino Rastelli
French lyrics by Louis Poterat
See more »

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User Reviews

 
keeps getting better the more it goes along, with understated performances
24 October 2009 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Play Dirty surprises because of how 'dirty' it actually gets, and how it doesn't give any easy beats for its characters. It follows the seemingly usual tropes of the men-on-a-mission war flick, where a group of men are selected practically on the basis that they won't succeed in their mission, and that the end goal is to blow something up. But unlike The Guns of Navarone or the Dirty Dozen, Play Dirty puts the position of the British army in this desert scene as greedy and malicious and really only caring about getting to the oil, and surely before the 'decoy' team gets there. It's entertaining but it's not what exactly one would call 'fun' like Navarone. It's a story of unheroic men doing some heroic things and always for the almighty dollar.

In the film, Michael Caine is a Captain Douglas in the army- he doesn't look entirely like the army type and no wonder since he was formerly a Petro-exec- who is put in charge of a group to go through rocky terrain in the North African desert to bomb an oil field. Only big snag is that this isn't the first time the mission has been attempted, and Captains have died already. With this in mind, the head guy puts Cyril Leech (Nigel Davenport) in charge to make sure the Captain is kept alive - at a good cost of two thousand pounds. This doesn't mean that Cyril won't get sometimes in the way of the Captains orders, like when they need to pull up their trucks over a rocky mountain ridge and he refuses to unload the trucks. It's an uneasy partnership with their fellow soldiers also not always sure who to follow, especially when coming into some enemy territory, or when they come upon a 'fake' enemy outpost in a sandstorm.

Andre De Toth's film is rough and tough, as any men-on-a-mission war film should be, but it has something extra to keep one interested. This is the guts to keep things rightfully violent and shocking (when a mine goes off at one point as another mine is being diffused, it's one of those moments you'll jump in your seat even at home), and at most mildly amusing. The characters aren't very colorful or even terribly memorable, although Caine and Davenport are both fantastic in their parts, often fantastic at being understated (as Davenport's Captain says, "look, listen, don't move, that's the way you survive"). The action is also intense enough but moves at that pace where suspense is genuinely built like in the climax among the oil barrels and the barbed wire. Even a scene involving an attempted rape is shown without any punches pulled, until the one oddly-effective laugh had at the outcome of the scene.

It's a forgotten little wonder of the world war two movie, and it's more bitter than sweet with its view of the buck-stops-here mentality of wartime - or rather, as a character points out, how war is "a criminal enterprise", hence having a guy like Cyril, who was in prison for fifteen years until being put to use on the mission. Play Dirty doesn't get really going until twenty minutes in, but once it does it doesn't play safe. 8.5/10


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