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original title: The Dirty Dozen
duration: 2h 30min
tags: Train them!Excite them!Arm them!...Then turn them loose on the Nazis!
keywords: commandomission, redemption, criminal, fightinarestroom, secretmission, suicidemission, behindenemylines, commandounit, commando, worldwartwo, psychopath, killedinanexplosion, ethnicslur, titlesameasb
Yet to admit even subtly (as he also did in 'Attack') that even a war as 'good', just and necessary as WWII was still an act of insanity on all sides may be even more brave than Altman's more overt counter-culture skewering of the Korean War, a war more 'acceptable' to ask moral questions about.
All that said, as often happens for me with Aldrich, it lost a bit on second viewing. The humor felt more juvenile, the ironies a bit easy. Still a cool, subversive film, but I'd hoped it would grow, not fade. Aldrich was a master at presenting his distinctly cynical outlook in the context of crowd-pleasing entertainment, and The Dirty Dozen is one of his most effective and lasting efforts. U.S. Army Major John Reisman (Lee Marvin) is "asked" by General Worden (Ernest Borgnine) to train a dozen hardcore military prisoners, some of them sentenced to death by hanging, so that they can be led on a dangerous mission, called "Project Amnesty", behind enemy lines. In return for their service, the prisoners will have their sentences commuted ...if they survive. The Dirty Dozen is also a 1965 novel by E.M. "Mick" Nathanson, said to be inspired by the Filthy Thirteen, a real life Demolition Section of the U.S. Army whose job it was to demolish enemy targets behind the lines. The book was adapted for the movie by Nunnally Johnson and Lukas Heller. A sequel, The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission (1985), followed in 1985. They are: (1) Tassos Bravos (Al Mancini), (2) Victor Franko (John Cassavetes), (3) Glenn Gilpin (Ben Carruthers), (4) Robert Jefferson (Jim Brown), (5) Pedro Jiminez (Trini L坦pez), (6) Roscoe Lever (Stuart Cooper), (7) Archer Maggott (Telly Savalas). (8) Vernon Pinkley (Donald Sutherland), (9) Samson Posey (Clint Walker), Seth Sawyer (Colin Maitland), (11) Milo Vladik (Tom Busby), and (12) Joseph Wladislaw (Charles Bronson). To parachute into France, infiltrate a guarded French ch但teau in Rennes, Brittany, being used by high-ranking German officers as a rest house, kill as many Germans as possible, and destroy the communications tower in an effort to disrupt their chain of command before the Allied invasion on 6 June 1944. It's evident in the movie that Colonel Breed (Robert Ryan) and Major Reisman greatly dislike each other, but no details about their backstory is provided. It's explained in the book that the mutual contempt between them began in Italy. Reisman, an OSS officer, was working undercover with local partisans in Italy and had observed Breed's arrogant and dismissive treatment of the paratroopers under his command. Reisman, dressed as an Italian peasant, had seen Breed order his men out of a small cafe in which some of the troopers had stopped to have a drink. Reisman broke character and called Breed out for the jerk he was in English, telling him that he ought to give his guys a break and let them drink because tomorrow some of them might be dead. The pompous Breed, embarrassed in front of his men, was furious and had Reisman arrested and held until his identity was confirmed. Those were pencil detonators aka timing pencils, basically pens with blasting caps and short-duration timers, settable by turning. Reisman signals to Jefferson that it's time. Jefferson tosses live grenades down the ventilation shafts as quickly as possible, knowing that he has only 20 seconds to join Reisman, Wladislaw, Franco, and Sgt Bowren () in the German half-track before the grenades begin exploding. He almost makes it but is shot and killed by a German soldier. As the grenades start exploding, Reisman heads the half-track out of the courtyard and over a bridge. Sawyer and Lever, who have been serving as lookouts, head for a boat to meet Reisman on the other side of the river but they are shot by Germans and their boat blown up. The half-track makes it across the river, and Franko begins shouting, "We made it!" Suddenly, a German solder steps out from under the bridge and shoots him in the back. The half-track continues its escape, carrying Reisman, Bowren, and Wladislaw, the only one of the dirty dozen to survive, a narrator states: Among the many reports of the raid on the ch但teau near Rennes, perhaps the most objective is the one by General Worden in which he states, "We are recommending that those members of the group known as the Dirty Dozen who survived this operation should have their service records amended to indicate that they are returning to duty at their former ranks and that the next of kin of those prisoners who were killed be advised that they lost their lives in the line of duty." In the final scene, Reisman, Wladislaw, and Bowren are recuping at a military hospital. They are visited by Generals Worden and Denton (Robert Webber) to commend them on a job well done. Just before leaving, Denton says to Wladislaw, "Hurry up and get well...we need men like you out there." After Warden and Denton have left the room, Wladislaw says, "Boy oh boy, killing gnerals could get to be a habit with me."
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