The Dirty Dozen - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Dirty Dozen Reviews

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½ October 10, 2017
Like how the film starts and story. A few music tones are over the top, ending rushed. Most die
½ October 7, 2017
unbelievably cheesy!! 3 hours of torture.
September 26, 2017
viewed on 2/8/04 (Mon)

Knew the TV series inspired by this movie. Looks kind of one of those chauvinist action-packed no-brainers. I did not have a good impression of this movie though.

My younger brother asked for it. Apparently the show was so good, he could remember even the story details after so many years. Well, worth seeing then.

Yup. It is very engaging. Running at the length of 150 min., it doesn't for once feel long. Among the cast whom I know are Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson and John Cassavetes. John is the father of Nick whose latest movie, The Notebook, is coming to town and he was married to Gena Rowlands.

Some interest findings after watching this and GUNS OF NAVARONE. The way the characters die is very laughable, twisting their bodies and faces. Though alot of scenes of killing, I will hardly see any blood and the killing is much like stageplay. It makes me question the necessity of gory scenes of violence in contemporary movies.

I always have this idea that the story happens at the battlefield when in fact, the first half of the movie takes place at the training base of the dozen and the second half happens at this chateau. The first half is not that as serious and even has some tongue-in-cheek humour.

The second half is when the action kicks in. The showdown at the chateau is really very very exciting. In the making-of featurette, we are told the set took four months to build and an actor had to risk his life to detonate explosives to blow up the place, just like in the story. That is to say there must not be a second take and the actor if not careful would die at the scene! In the absence of advanced technology in filmmaking, I really take my hat off these forefathers of filmmakers.

The story of twelve doomed prisoners on a doomed mission with a condemned officer may allow some grounds for some see-we-are-not-that-useless melodrama but surprisingly, the movie downplays all these and instead chooses to tell the story straight as an actioner. Now, got that, Roland Emmerich?

Rating: B+
½ August 13, 2017
The Dirty Dozen looks and sounds good, but the characters are either annoying or plain unlikable, the film favors style over substance with not enough drama and story and way too much action. It is overlong and tedious.
½ May 13, 2017
Better than Inglorious Bastards.
May 13, 2017
Way over-rated. A mildly entertaining film for the Bubba set. Dangerously stupid mindset about war as an adventure for those not willing or able to face the facts of Vietnam. (And I love war adventure films like Guns of Navarone).
Oh, and of course when the 'chicks' show up they are purely for the 'entertainment' of the Dozen, and all look like they are from a 1966 shopping mall. Robert Aldrich used 'camp' well in Baby Jane, but applied to war and violence and bubblegum testosterone, its more than a little off putting.
May 13, 2017
Ridiculous, messy, but entertaining.
½ April 27, 2017
Lee Marvin leads a group of ragtag underdogs into a suicide mission. It's an engaging film that is loaded with action. (First and only full viewing - 7/12/2012)
March 20, 2017
One of the best ensemble movies made. It's a dramatic yet 'cool' war film, whilst still being able to portray it's subject in cold, harsh, brutal and ultimately mindless reality. Marvin, Bronson & Cassavetes stand-out brilliantly. Not looking forward to Tarantino's remake, not even he can better this classic.
½ February 5, 2017
A good Ol' classic WWII movie.
January 9, 2017
In Britain, in the spring of 1944, Allied forces are preparing for the D-Day invasion. Among them are Major John Reisman (Lee Marvin), an OSS officer; his commander, Regular Army Major General Sam Worden (Ernest Borgnine); and his former commander Colonel Everett Dasher Breed (Robert Ryan). The three personalities clash easily. Reisman is aided by his friend, the mild-mannered Major Max Armbruster (George Kennedy). Major Reisman is assigned an unusual and top-secret mission, code-named Operation Amnesty. He is to select a small band of the Army's worst convicts and turn them into commandos to be sent on a virtual suicide mission, the airborne infiltration and assault on a château near Rennes in Brittany. The chateau will be hosting a meeting of dozens of high-ranking German officers, the elimination of whom will hamper the German military's ability to respond to D-Day by disrupting the chain of command. Those who survive the mission will be pardoned and returned to active duty at their former ranks. However, as Reisman repeatedly tells the men, few of them will be coming back from this one. Reisman is assigned 12 convicts (the 'Dirty Dozen'), all either serving lengthy sentences or awaiting execution. Notable members include slow-witted Vernon Pinkley (Donald Sutherland); Robert Jefferson (Jim Brown), an African American soldier convicted of killing a man in self defense; Samson Posey (Clint Walker), a gentle giant who becomes enraged when pushed, convicted of accidentally killing a man who purposely shoved him; Joseph Wladislaw (Charles Bronson) a taciturn coal miner recruited for his ability to speak German, a battlefield-commissioned former officer convicted of shooting his platoon's medic; A.J. Maggot (Telly Savalas), a misogynist, religious fanatic, and probably insane soldier convicted of raping and beating a woman to death; and Victor Franko (John Cassavetes), a former member of the Chicago organized-crime syndicate who has extreme problems with authority, convicted of robbing and killing an elderly man for two pounds and ten shillings. Will the group manage to keep together and perform the suicide mission...?

In response to the violence of the film, Roger Ebert, in his first year as a film reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote sarcastically:
"I'm glad the Chicago Police Censor Board forgot about that part of the local censorship law where it says films shall not depict the burning of the human body. If you have to censor, stick to censoring sex, I say...but leave in the mutilation, leave in the sadism and by all means leave in the human beings burning to death. It's not obscene as long as they burn to death with their clothes on." In another contemporaneous review, Bosley Crowther called it "an astonishingly wanton war film" and a "studied indulgence of sadism that is morbid and disgusting beyond words"; he also noted: It is not simply that this violent picture of an American military venture is based on a fictional supposition that is silly and irresponsible.... But to have this bunch of felons a totally incorrigible lot, some of them psychopathic, and to try to make us believe that they would be committed by any American general to carry out an exceedingly important raid that a regular commando group could do with equal efficiency - and certainly with greater dependability - is downright preposterous. Crowther called some of the portrayals "bizarre and bold": Marvin's taut, pugnacious playing of the major ... is tough and terrifying. John Cassavetes is wormy and noxious as a psychopath condemned to death, and Telly Savalas is swinish and maniacal as a religious fanatic and sex degenerate. Charles Bronson as an alienated murderer, Richard Jaeckel as a hard-boiled military policeman, and Jim Brown as a white-hating Negro stand out in the animalistic group. Variety was more positive, calling it an "exciting Second World War pre-D-Day drama" based on a "good screenplay" with a "ring of authenticity to it"; they drew particular attention to the performances by Marvin, Cassavetes and Bronson. The Time Out Film Guide notes that over the years, "The Dirty Dozen has taken its place alongside that other commercial classic, The Magnificent Seven: The violence which liberal critics found so offensive has survived intact. Aldrich sets up dispensable characters with no past and no future, as Marvin reprieves a bunch of death row prisoners, forges them into a tough fighting unit, and leads them on a suicide mission into Nazi France. Apart from the values of team spirit, cudgeled by Marvin into his dropout group, Aldrich appears to be against everything: anti-military, anti-Establishment, anti-women, anti-religion, anti-culture, anti-life. Overriding such nihilism is the super-crudity of Aldrich's energy and his humour, sufficiently cynical to suggest that the whole thing is a game anyway, a spectacle that demands an audience.

"The Dirty Dozen" is amongst those great big budget ensemble war movies that came out in the 60s and 70s, with the difference that "The Dirty Dozen" is quite ugly, violent in an authentic way, anti-everything, cynical, psychopathic and sadistic. What sort of responsibility do we have in war? What does war do to you? Is it morally ok to use convicts as canon fodder in a suicide mission? Are their lives worth less than others? The film by director Robert Aldrich adds plenty of rich moral dilemmas for the brain during the watch. As Time Out Film Guide said: Aldrich appears to be against everything: anti-military, anti-Establishment, anti-women, anti-religion, anti-culture, anti-life. He intended the film as an anti-war allegory for what was happening in Vietnam at the same time and from all the extra stuff behind the scenes itīs quite apparent that he wanted the film to show what war really is up close without sugarcoating it. And with an ensemble of Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland, Clint Walker, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Webber, John Cassevetes etc you simply canīt go wrong if you manage to pull out great performances from them which Aldrich did. The ones that really stands out are Marvin as the disobediant and anti-hero Major Reisman and Cassevetes as the hardnosed criminal and trouble-maker Franko. We get top notch performances from both. The art direction, special effects, sets etc adds to the production value as well. "The Dirty Dozen" is a great anti-war ensemble piece that entertains you on one hand but at the same time makes your brain question the moral and actions you see on the screen.
½ January 7, 2017
Classic film. Very very memorable. I loved it. The acting was great, the story was very good, and the dialogue was well-made. The only thing I didn't like was that it was a bit too long. But, wow. Lee Marvin was the highlight of the film.
½ September 10, 2016
This is a perfectly emotional anti-hero film.
½ September 8, 2016
Was entertaining enough but I hardly think the mission that was the basis of the movie was worth all the trouble. Not to mention I found the execution of that mission to be morally questionable, celebrating this and the criminals that took part as a "great film" is rather odd to me.
September 4, 2016
Brilliant movie and still makes my all time favorites after FIFTY yeras
August 29, 2016
Only the editing of the action scenes has aged.
½ August 14, 2016
I loved this. Right up there with my favourite Aldrich films (though maybe 'Kiss Me Deadly' is still my number one), and of the greatest performances of both Lee Marvin and John Cassavetes (who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at both the Golden Globes and Oscars for his work here).

This hearkened back to the heady times when if you got a great cast and director together, you were virtually guaranteed you'd come out of it, because of comparatively little studio interference, with a bonafide classic piece of cinema. People thought the studio system was broken and needed fixing, by films such as 'Easy Rider'? THIS, along with other fine Aldrich works from this period, age a lot better and hold up much finer today than Dennis Hopper's so-called 'masterpiece' and its ilk.
½ August 14, 2016
I loved this. Right up there with my favourite Aldrich films (though maybe 'Kiss Me Deadly' is still my number one), and of the greatest performances of both Lee Marvin and John Cassavetes (who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at both the Golden Globes and Oscars for his work here).

This hearkened back to the heady times when if you got a great cast and director together, you were virtually guaranteed you'd come out of it, because of comparatively little studio interference, with a bonafide classic piece of cinema. People thought the studio system was broken and needed fixing, by films such as 'Easy Rider'? THIS, along with other fine Aldrich works from this period, age a lot better and hold up much finer today than Dennis Hopper's so-called 'masterpiece' and its ilk.
July 24, 2016
This fantastic concept is so poorly executed that it is begging to be remade. Someone remake this and do a better job.
½ May 8, 2016
Classic "bunch of guys on a suicide mission" movie. Good cast. Well-paced. A really good movie.
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