A cross between The Dirty Dozen (1967) and Payroll (1961), this caper thriller stars Leslie Neilsen as Frank Dayton, the evil but brilliant mastermind who trains his robbers with military precision as he plans to lift the $2½ million payroll from an Air Force base in Palomar, California.
He recruits six experts with talents ranging from forgery to murder and assembles them at the Mexican villa of Max Eckhart (Eric Braeden, billed here as Hans Gudegast), where he nicknames the “squadron” Dayton’s Devils.
Mike Page (Rory Calhoun) is the telephone operations man in charge of training. He considers Dayton slightly crazy, and they clash, but Dayton will not allow anyone to quit.
When their training is completed, they are smuggled back to the Santa Barbara coast by boat. Armed with forged identity cards, they steal two military vehicles and enter the USAF base under the guise of a special secret committee investigating finance and payroll.
Inside, they destroy communications and make off with the payroll.
They are overtaken by the Air Police en route to the coast, but – using their truck as a roadblock – they make their escape in a station wagon driven by Dayton’s girlfriend, Leda Martell (Lainie Kazan in her screen debut).
Unearthing buried skin-diving equipment, they take the money and descend to the bottom of the ocean to wait until dark. They then proceed to a predetermined point and are picked up by a Mexican fishing boat. But the captain, learning of the amount of the booty, becomes greedy and demands it all.
A free-for-all fight ensues in which the Captain and Dayton are shot and killed. Another bullet strikes the engine, igniting a fire and setting the boat alight. As the remainder of the Devils watch, their dreams go up in smoke as a Navy patrol boat approaches.
Most of the supporting cast simply recite their lines, and a plodding script and routine direction do not help.
Eric Braeden (as Hans Gudegast)
Georg Stanford Brown
Fishing Boat Captain