The Dirty Dozen Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 12, 2012
In the 1960's and 1970's so many action films have grace the big screen, providing some truly classic and thrilling moments for the viewer. With an all star cast, director Robert Aldrich crafts a thrilling and exciting action picture that delivers some stunning performances, thrills, humor and memorable action that not even today's action flicks can top. The cast here is brilliant and each brings something to the screen that makes this such a great film. As an action film, The Dirty Dozen ranks as a classic of the genre. The pacing of the film is good and lets the action steadily build up to a killer climax. As far as classic action films are concerned, you have got to see The Dirty Dozen. This is a fun, entertaining film that should please either action fans or war film fans, even though this is not a straight forward war film. Richard Aldrich directs a solid piece of cinematic intensity that will certainly appeal to die hard action fans. This is action to its bare bones, with no fancy special effects, and that's why it is a terrific flick to watch. Brilliant and well acted this is a solid entertaining classic that still is fun to watch even today. The actors chosen play their parts well, and each shine on-screen. Lee Marvin is terrific in the lead role as the Major who commands the Dirty Dozen. Little flaws, but you don't care because this is a nonstop testosterone driven action picture that has great performances, and enough thrills to satisfy the most demanding viewer.
Super Reviewer
September 23, 2009
10/07/2012 (Blu-Ray PS3)
Super Reviewer
½ January 23, 2012
Major John Reisman: You know what to do, feed the French and shoot the Germans! 

"Train them! Excite them! Arm them!... Then turn them loose on the Nazis!"

The Dirty Dozen is one of the more interesting war films I have seen. It's madly serious, while being wildly silly. I can't help but compare this to a later film Robert Aldrich would direct, which wouldn't seem comparable; that being The Longest Yard. Both of these movies involve a leader having to train inadequate men to be great in order to beat the enemy. Here it is more serious, because it is a matter of life and death. But it is cool to see that Aldrich used basically the same formula for a football movie a little later in his career.

The Dirty Dozen has a reputation as a guys film, and it is easy to see why. There's not a whole lot of femininity going on here. It's a lot of guns, tough talk, and fighting. It also has a reputation as being a fun film, which many war movies can't say. And this is a pretty fun movie. The characters, except for one notable exception, are easy to like. The cast shines.  And most notably, you have to love the ironic way the Americans kill the Nazis. There is a long line of these kill the Nazi movies. Of all of them I have seen this is probably my favorite, but I haven't watched Inglorious Basterds in awhile. 

The story is about Major Reisman who is assigned a crap job. He must train convicted murderers, many of whom are going to be hanged, for a secret Nazi assassination mission. Most of the movie takes place in the training facility, where the Major must bring his men together. The film isn't all shoot em up, but the last 30 minutes or so are not lacking in suspense and action. 

I guess the performances in this film is what sets it apart from other films of this genre. Lee Marvin as Reisman exerts a tough and excellent performance. It helps when you're backed up by Donald Sutherland, Jim Brown, Charles Bronson, Telly Salvalas, and John Cassavetes. The other actors whom I don't recognize are pretty good at bringing out the most in their characters as well.

The Dirty Dozen is one of those must see movies. It is deservedly classified as a landmark film and the fact that it has held up so well to this point is a testament to Aldrich's terrific direction. 

Joseph T. Wladislaw: Killin' generals could get to be a habit with me. 
Super Reviewer
½ March 29, 2011
A humorous and engaging war-film with an all-star cast and well-paced direction from Robert Aldrich. It's so funny to see Donald Sutherland young again, and if you want to see the REAL origins of Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds - watch this film and glee. Unfortunately, the hokey-looking violence just threw me out of the action in the second half.
Super Reviewer
October 25, 2010
A classic action flick. It's a thrilling, wickedly funny and action-packed adventure filled with stars, excitement and a great story. It's The Expendables of the 1960's. A bold, fun, hard-boiled and tremendously entertaining movie that dose not get old. Lee Marvin is fantastic. The entire cast shines with greatness. One of the best world war two action adventures ever made.
Super Reviewer
½ June 26, 2008
The quintessential all male action-adventure film. 12 prisoners convicted of violent crimes, can save themselves by volunteering for a suicide mission. Innovative and influential, this war film was rather progressive for its time in both attitude and brutality. Actor Lee Marvin as Major John Reisman is not your typical OSS officer. Cynical and rebellious, he's placed in charge of a rag tag group made up of murderers and psychopaths that he champions. What's interesting is how director Robert Aldrich somehow manages to balance this depraved lot with enough good old-fashioned fun to make an entertaining bunch that we actually root for. The cast is uniformly excellent. John Cassavetes received the Oscar nomination, but Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Trini López, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland and Clint Walker all contribute significantly to the film. A rousing adrenaline rush.
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2007
If this isn't the definition of a 'man's movie', then I don't know what is. It's a rough, tough and entertaining story about a hard ass who trains a group of unruly death row inmates to take on a suicide mission on the eve of D-Day. Besides swimming in testosterone, this film is littered with wry humor, and an anti-establishment attitude perfectly the era it was made during. Along with that are great perforances from one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled. Marvin, Bronson, and Sevalas are brilliant, Cassavetes, and Brown show their chops, and Sutherland steals the show with his wonderfully screwball characterization. The direction is incredibly strong, as are the camera work and editing. A lot of what is on display is pretty innovate and artistic for the time, and can be seen in many films to follow. I'm glad I finally got around to seeing this, because I now know where Tarantino gets much inspiration from, both in general and for his own WWII epic. Bottom line: go out and see this-it's hard to dislike.
Super Reviewer
March 23, 2010
A great original war film from start to finish and a great ensemble cast. It has an amazing plot, prisoners forced to fight in order to escape death. It has a lot of different characteristics of different genres thrown together to make a really fun and suspenseful ride. John Cassavetes is such a great creepy character and so bizarre throughout the film, you have no idea if he's going to sabotage the mission or be it's lead into victory. However, the standout role in the film is clearly Charles Bronson who is probably one of the greatest tough guys in a war movie. He can not only lead his soldiers, but have some incredibly amazing character moments that make him unforgettable.
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2009
"Feed the French, kill the Germans"

A US Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers in World War II.

Refreshingly devoid of heroism (while remaining gleefully knee-deep in sensationalism), this movie honestly surprised me with it's depth. Lee Marvin is a marvel as a tough Army major assigned to whip a bunch of violent Army felons into shape for a covert mission in German territory. John Cassavetes and Charles Bronson, both smoldering, anchor the charismatic cast of convicts (half of whom remain rather anonymous, unfortunately), and Telly Savalas adds an addled charm as the psychopathic Pvt. Maggott even though his character's story arc is somewhat mishandled down the stretch. The film is rollicking at times but it remains clear-eyed throughout, and revels in the coldness of armed conflict as opposed to cheap dramatics it could have plumbed out of such a familiar story.
Super Reviewer
½ November 7, 2006
Lee Marvin stars as a maverick colonel who is "volunteered" for the task of whipping a dozen death row inmates into shape to attack a target behind enemy lines. On more than one occasion, female acquaintances have refused to watch certain films because they are "boy's films", something I find irritatingly dismissive. But where The Dirty Dozen is concerned, it's a case of guilty as charged. If Star Wars is the film that reminds me of being 8 again, this film takes me back to the 12 year old me, playing with my Action Man (GI Joe to you colonials...) Lee Marvin is at his gruff best, and Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, Jim Brown et al dole out the testosterone soaked heroics to have at the dreaded hun. It's the kind of old fashioned boy's own war film that Aldrich excelled at, and a supporting cast also including comic relief from slow-witted "General" Donald Sutherland and a darker edge provided by religious psychopath Telly Savalas, it covers all possible bases. The bootcamp-maneuvres-mission formula has been copied umpteen times since and the broad comedy of the first half of the film contrasts with the Magnificent Seven style slam-bang finale behind enemy lines perfectly. It's huge fun if you like this type of thing, but it's definitely aimed at an XY audience.
Super Reviewer
September 26, 2008
The Dirty Dozen is a war movie that was released in an era when the country was divided on the war in Vietnam and it shows. Much of the dialogue throughout The Dirty Dozen is filled with shots at the brass who are making stupid decisions and wasting lives. The film is about a rebel major (Lee Marvin in another bad ass role) who is volunteered to lead an assignment behind the lines as a prelude to D-Day. He is to put together a small unit of soldiers from men sentenced to death or decades in prison for an attack on a French chateau that's full of German high command.

The film feels as if it's trying to be The Great Escape, but doesn't quite get it. Yes, Charles Bronson is back playing another Polish character. Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, and Jim Brown are the highlights of the dozen with Ernest Borgnine playing the general that sends Marvin on his mission and George Kennedy as the major that seems to be the voice of reason between Marvin's charcter and the brass. It's a great cast and a good script, though it seems to lull during the initial training phase the film builds up into a harrowing climax that leaves you on the edge of your seat as they take the chateau. It's this 20 minute sequences that real makes this a great film.

The Dirty Dozen is one of those World War II films that raised its head from the pool of hundreds of WWII films that have been released during the last sixty years. The story is implausible, yet the characters are engaging with some wit thrown in for good measure. It may not be the greatest war film, but it deserves recognition as a film filled with action and a bit of sarcasm at the guys that make the decisions.
Super Reviewer
January 2, 2007
A very good war film as a tough group is formed for a special mission.
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2007
A blast of a film. one of the best second world war action epics, one of Robert Aldrich's best, and one of the best casts ever "recruited" in motion picture history.
Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2006
Major John Reisman: What do you think, Sergeant?
Sergeant Clyde Bowren: I think you'll do just fine, sir.
Major John Reisman: [emphatically] I said what do you think?
Sergeant Clyde Bowren: I think the first chance one of those lovers gets, he's going to shoot the Major right in the head... sir.

A fun war time comedy in the same league as movies like M*A*S*H and Kelly's Heroes.

Lee Marvin leads an all star cast as Major Reisman, a good leader who is assigned the mission of leading 12 American military prisoners, all either serving life in jail or headed for the death penalty, into a special assassination assignment.

The cast of cons include Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, and Jim Brown. For the record, my favorite of the dozen was Bronson.

The dozen is assembled, with the majority of the movie being spent developing these cons in their training before getting to their actual assignment in the big action finale.

The majority of the movie is fairly light in tone, but all of the actors make this a very entertaining movie to watch. By the time you get to the end of the film, you do care about the ones that don't make it out of the mission alive.

Lee Marvin, who has to carry this movie as the leader, kicks ass the whole way through, from his no-nonsense dialog to the strut in his step.

Its a very entertaining movie, with a great ensemble cast.

Pinkley: [impersonating a General] Where are you from, son?
Soldier: Madison City, Missouri, sir!
Pinkley: Never heard of it.
Super Reviewer
March 3, 2007
MY FAVOURTIE WAR movie. A classic - truly original - and funny as - ALL STAR cast.
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2006
Three-and-a-half stars . . . It's sobering to see a movie like this now and realize that most of the people involved are no longer with us. Savalas takes top prize as the sociopathic Maggot, a nauseatingly evil weirdo. Lee Marvin and, especially, Charles Bronson are always excellent at tough-guy parts. Sutherland is a good screwball, somewhat reminiscent of his later goofy Oddball character in KELLY'S HEROES, but nastier here. Cassavetes shows his excellent acting side that, along with his unique directing talent, is sorely missed.
Super Reviewer
½ July 29, 2012
An action movie - but a competent one.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2014
The Wild Bunch goes to war, you know, before "The Wild Bunch" even came out. I understand that Lee Marvin was supposed to be one heck of a Marine in really life, but it's hard to see Lee Marvin and not think of westerns, especially when he's paired up with an ensemble that features Ernest Borgnine. Man, with Marvin, Borgnine, George Kennedy, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Ben Carruthers, Milo Vladek, Al Mancini, Colin Maitland, Trini López and Telly Savalas, this isn't a particularly pretty Hollywood cast, and then John Cassavetes, Clint Walker and Stuart Cooper show up, probably so this can actually be called a Hollywood cast. Even the looks of the stars in this film are nitty and gritty, so you know that there is going to be some dirty fighting in this flick, and plenty of it. Hey, there better be, if this film is going to run two-and-a-half hours, which is a lot of time spent towards one mission in one film. That barely worked in "The Guns of Navarone", although I might just be mentioning that because as often as this has been ripped off, I can't believe that there is an older film for it to rip off. I'm kidding, because it's not fair to call this a rip-off if it is better than "The Guns of Navarone", which was still good, despite issues that aren't completely washed away this time around.

The film is fairly well-known for its audacious originality in quite a few areas as a Hollywood war film of the time, but the uniqueness is a little subtle, and yet prominent enough to make it all the more glaring when the film does fall into formula, whose reinforcement of predictability is problematic enough. The ambition to have an edge which is ultimately limited in the long run also makes it a little difficult to embrace the grime of the characters, all of whom are intentionally thoroughly flawed in a manner that is forgivable for only so long, before your investment begins to become a little loosened because of the characters' being, in a way, a touch obnoxious and occasionally limited in dimension. Perhaps there would be more consistency to a sense of humanity in this film if the story itself had more depth, because no matter how entertaining, this "drama" is more action-oriented than anything, and you can do only so much to flesh out an "epic" of that type. Really, the issues discussed up to this point, as far as being serious enough to hold the film back, pale in comparison to mere natural shortcomings that go stressed by an ambition to flesh out this film, with a series of somewhat episodic segments who shifts feel a smidge jarring, due to each segment being fleshed out for way more than a smidge too long. I've already touched upon how there's not much in the way of conceptual dramatic consequence to this film, yet the final product still comes out clocking in at a whopping two-and-a-half hours, on the dot, and it doesn't get there as organically as it probably should, meandering along with a lot of fat around the edges that doesn't really add as much to this narrative as it wants to. Again, there's little to really complain heavily about, with even the bloating not being as excessive as it could have been, but the film's reward value is still threatened by those subtle hiccups and prominent natural shortcomings, in addition to limitation in the quantity of things to praise. Of course, what there is to praise is all but worth lauding in its crafting a thoroughly entertaining war flick of solid intrigue, even in concept.

Under the weight of natural dramatic limitations which are stressed by a hint of conventionalism, overly grimy characterization, unevenness and fat around the narrative edges, the final product ultimately comes to the brink of underwhelmingness, ultimately overcome by an intriguing story's being done enough justice by sharp writing, lively direction, tense action and, most of all, sparkling charisma and chemistry throughout a solid ensemble cast to make Robert Aldrich's "The Dirty Dozen" an ultimately rewardingly entertaining war thriller.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2011
A very fun and exciting film to watch and one that I first saw with my father as a child and have always held a special place for even as an adult.
Super Reviewer
June 28, 2010
Its one of those old action movies that my father force fed me as a child, and I enjoy it much now as I did then. Lee Marvin is such a badass, and so is the rest of the cast. Its just a well made, fun action movie.
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