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.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.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.
Like a 1960's DC Comics World War II adventure
I saw first saw this during it's initial theatrical release and have seen it many times since. A group of prisoners are led by a renegade Major with disciplinary problems of his own to penetrate enemy lines in preparation for D-Day and disrupt the German chain of command by killing a gathering of top Nazi brass at a château. If the prisoners succeed and survive they will have their sentences commuted. If the Major pulls it off he'll save his career. This is adapted from the 1965 best selling novel by E.M. Nathanson and based on a story told to Nathanson by sexplotation film director Russ Meyer. Meyer was a cameraman in the signal corps during World War II mostly assigned to General Patton. In the real dirty dozen story, they were parachute dropped into occupied France on an assassination mission. They never completed their assignment however. Being typical undependable criminals once they hit the ground they hightailed it for Spain for the rest of the war. The real dirty dozen scenario is much more plausible than this far-fetched tale made into a film by director Robert Aldrich. Proliffic writer/director/producer Nunnally Johnson wrote the screenplay. Aldrich had made some good films in the 50's including Kiss Me Deadly and had a string of good films in the 60's leading up The Dirty Dozen including Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Flight of the Pheonix. He dealt with prisoners again in the Longest Yard and would revisit the violence of the Dozen with Ulzani's Raid. A great cast here with film veterans Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Ralph Meeker and Charles Bronson and actors who would become well known including Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, George Kennedy, John Cassavetes in his only Academy Award nominated performance (he lost out to Kennedy who won for his performance in Cool Hand Luke)and Jim Brown, who retired from the NFL while filming this for an acting career. Also in the cast are Richard Jaekel, Robert Webber and Trini Lopez. Nominated for four Academy Awards the MGM Sound Department took home it's only win for Best Sound Effects. It's a good action film with a great cast but it's too much like a comic book action story than an actual war drama story. The entire plot is so implausible and unnecessary that if there is a message in this film about war, double standards, senselessness, hypocrisy etc.. it gets lost in the mayhem. If you remember World War II themed comic books from the 60's like Sgt. Rock, Our Fighting Forces or GI Combat, this movie more resembles them than a typical war picture. There are some good lines and dialog and this is well made film but not my favorite war picture. I would give it a 7.5 out of 10.
- Apr 10, 2006
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