W: Lukas Heller & Nunnally Johnson [based on the novel by
DP: Edward Scaife
Ed: Michael Luciano
Mus: Frank de Vol
Lee Marvin (Maj. Reisman), Ernest Borgnine (Gen. Worden),
Charles Bronson (Joseph Wladislaw), Telly Savalas (Archer J. Maggott), John Cassavetes (Victor Franko), Jim Brown (Robert Jefferson), Richard Jaeckel (Sgt. Bowren), George
Kennedy (Maj. Max Armbruster), Donald Sutherland (Vernon Pinkley)
Notoriously violent for its time, The Dirty Dozen is a Gung
Ho, all-star wartime action flick with principal focus on explosions and set pieces rather than character, but it still manages to be hugely entertaining.
Lee Marvin plays a rebellious major who is tasked with
assembling a suicide squad made up of military prisoners so they can infiltrate and destroy a chateau in Nazi-occupied France where all the high ranking generals congregate.
Marvin puts the recruits through an intense training scheme
which takes up most of the film's running time, culminating in a war game exercise where his troops take on and emerge victorious over the military elite. The final act takes place at the chateau
for the big action set piece from which most of them do not survive.
Though the film makes it difficult to get emotionally involved
with the ragtag group of criminals, the pure machismo of the group and their exploits makes it impossible not to root for them.
All the performances are fine, especially John Cassavetes, who
was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for his role, but, as said above, it's not a film you watch for the strength of the performances, but for the action scenes, all of which are brilliantly
executed considering the age of the movie.