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War always makes for strange bedfellows. Whether you call them mercenaries, irregular troops, or guerrillas, almost every war fought since time and memoriam has had them. America used 'privateers' in our Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The U.S. Marines used them in the war with the Barbary pirates when they took Derna (Also in North Africa) and planted the Stars and Strips in The Old World for the first time. As this movie brings out, the 'structured military' rarely knows how to deal with these irregular units because they don't operate in a manner the military understands or likes but they sometimes do offer 'skill sets' that can be beneficial. Yes, I believe that this unit was a bit over the top with 'bad boys only'. It portrays a cynical/dark side to almost everyone and everything involved in this move and, hence, a has a bit of an anti-war air about it. Overall, I thought it was a good movie showing that often the enemy isn't the greatest danger when we have to fight a more deadly enemy in the form of the weather, terrain, and each other...
During the North African Campaign in World War II, Captain Douglas (Michael Caine) is a British Petroleum employee seconded to the Royal Engineers to oversee incoming fuel supplies for the British 8th Army. Colonel Masters (Nigel Green) commands a special raiding unit composed of convicted criminals, and after a string of failures he is told by his commander, Brigadier Blore (Harry Andrews), that he must have a regular officer to lead a dangerous last chance mission to destroy an Afrika Korps fuel depot, lest his unit be disbanded. Despite Douglas' objections, he is chosen for his knowledge of oil pipelines and infrastructure. Douglas is then introduced to Cyril Leech (Nigel Davenport), a convicted criminal rescued from prison to lead Masters' operations in the field...
"Play Dirty" is a different war movie with touch points of "The Dirty Dozen", however, "Play Dirty" has its own story to tell. The film is set in North Africa during World War II which I haven´t seen many war movies use as a backdrop. That´s a plus for me at least as this setting during World War II has always intrigued me. The film is anarchic, unheroic, ugly, selfish, brutal and not many characters you encounter in the film are very likeable. The film also shows the lack of rules and honour in war, and how war effect it´s participants. Michael Caine as Captain Douglas is not as powerful he usually is if you ask me, but still adds good weight to the film with his aura and presence. I would say that "Play Dirty" feels like a forgotten gem within the genre.
Play Dirty is an excellent film. It is about Captain Douglas who is is the British army leader who is ordered to lead a band of mercenaries into the desert. Michael Caine and Nigel Davenport give fantastic performances. The screenplay is well written. Andre De Toth did a great job directing this job. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the adventure and drama. Play Dirty is a must see.
I can't understand why this movie is listed on this website as being released in 1969. I'll just have to go with what I know to be true. As a '70's movie, Play Dirty reflects all of the bitter values of post Vietnam America. Michael Caine is a member of the British SAS, who you might have learned about, or rather not learned about even if you watched it, from the TV show The Desert Rats. I don't know that much more about this British WWII unit except, from the movie version, that their efforts, in contrast to the popular TV show about the same subject,and to which this movie is an obvious response, are very unsuccessful. After many setbacks, the leader of Caine's unit persuades Caine and their mutual commander to undertake a mission which will be of either potentially suicidal failure, for those undertaking it, or war wining success.
I don't like war movies in general but as a fan of the cynical '70's movies I found Play Dirty to be immensely entertaining. The title says it all about the tactics Caine and his sidekick, who is actually his commanding officer, display. None on Caine's team exhibit the all-American gunghoness displayed by say, John Wayne, and it's not just that they are British. They follow their mission to the end and not without inner conflict. Outside of their own emotions is the fact that they have set something in motion that they can't turn back from, it's not No Retreat No Surrender in the Van damme way, they simply have no choice in the matter. The anti-climatic ending is Hollywood's tribute to the state of affairs in the United States at the time. WWII is here just Vietnam again. During the Korean war, Hollywood looked at WWII differently.
Michael Caine stars as a officer engineer that must direct a group of specialists across the North African desert to takeout a Nazi fuel dump.
Caine is always worth watching but it is a shame that he has doesn't have a film to support him. Nigel Davenport has a bromance with Caine throughout the movie and their relationship is kinda "gotta keep you alive, or I am gonna regret it."
The movie is extremely dull, boring and doesn't have a pay off worthy of the time spent enduring the movie. Sigh! (1.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer
I preferred the story of Cyril, and how he rose to ruin.
Yeah! That's what you all war films like ''dirty dozen'' fans want around..
At the time of release this film must have been a new benchmark.
It is a gritty, critical and cynical look on the futility of war.
The story is told in a slow pace and really brings home the tedium and toil involved in the kind of warfare it portrays.
Great effort has been made to get the look and feel of the period correct and is any war buff's delight.
Acting is underplayed and must have been really chilling at the time and Sean Connery's Bond seems almost goofy in comparison.
The storyline, however, drops this film in the very dry african dust. Many of the characters and scenes are so superflous that large chunks of the film can simply be cut with no loss whatsoever to the final conclusion. It is almost as if the filmmaker tried to strech 20 minutes of film script into a full length feature. One scene, a failed rape attempt, underlines this problem. It carries no dialog, no music, almost no sound and contributes nothing to the story. One feels it has only been included for the shock value it carried at the time the film was released.
In the end one feels that this film is just as futile and worthless as the whole process of war it tries to criticize.
Today there are other films that comment on war a lot better. Watch if you are interested in Jeeps, Trucks and uniforms from WW2. (Very little else) Avoid if you want to see anything with any real content or commentary.
Solid, satisfying war adventure in war-time North Africa--Superior, fast paced and cynical!!
"Rommel will be defeated by two people. Hitler, who can't give him enough fuel and me, who is going to blow up what little he has." Michael Caine leads a group of convicts on a Dirty Dozen style mission in North Africa to do just that. It's a tough, mean little war film that is a must see for fans of these sorts of war films.