Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1960s Dirty Dozen, The (1967)

Dirty Dozen, The (1967)

One of the smash hits of its year, this action-packed archetypal bloke-flick is violent and amoral and a magnificent adventure that stirs the blood and warms the heart.

dirtydozen_1Major John Reisman (Lee Marvin) is given the task of recruiting 12 death-row military inmates and turning the unruly bunch of convicted murderers, rapists and street punks into a highly trained fighting machine to parachute into certain death on a suicide mission – designated “Project Amnesty” –  behind Nazi lines.

There are no complicated motives, no layers of intrigue – just the need to lay a righteous beating at the enemy’s heart.

The ‘dirty dozen’ includes a sex pervert (Telly Savalas), a psycho (John Cassavetes) and a mentally-challenged killer (Donald Sutherland).

Reisman initially uses the group to best the troops of his by-the-book superior officer, Colonel Breed (Robert Ryan), in war games.

dirtydozen_9They then lead a perilous assault on a well-guarded French chateau – used for conferences and recreation by German officers – and kill the Nazis vacationing there, becoming somewhat dubious heroes.

The violence is, in fact, mild by today’s standards, but it nevertheless leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and the movie rightly earned its original X certificate.

Some films show the absurdity of war, others satirise its insanity, but Robert Aldrich’s all-star caper just uses it as an adventure playground . . . Dem doity Nazi’s don’t stand a chance!

The irony is that these criminals redeem themselves by committing acts which are more barbaric than the ones they were condemned for – because anything is acceptable in war.

Major John Reisman
Lee Marvin
General Worden
Ernest Borgnine
Joseph Wladislaw
Charles Bronson
Robert Jefferson
Jim Brown
Victor Franko
John Cassavetes
Sgt Bowren
Richard Jaeckel
Maj Max Armbruster
George Kennedy
Pedro Jiminez
Trini Lopez
Capt Stuart Kinder
Ralph Meeker
Col Everett Dasher Breed
Robert Ryan
Archer Maggott
Telly Savalas
Vernon Pinkley
Donald Sutherland
Samson Posey
Clint Walker
Colonel Denton
Robert Webber
Milo Vladek
Tom Busby
Glenn Gilpin
Ben Carruthers
Roscoe Lever
Stuart Cooper
Corporal Morgan
Robert Phillips
Seth Sawyer
Colin Maitland
Tassos Bravos
Al Mancini

Robert Aldrich