The Dirty Dozen (1967)
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An absolute blast!
Seriously, how do you beat this cast: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy, Telly Savalas, John Cassavetes, Donald Sutherland, Jim Brown and the immortal Charles Bronson.
Silly, macho, politically-incorrect fun.
This was a joy to watch. Impeccable pacing, great character development, a fascinating premise, and what a cast! The use of a very clear and very signposted traditional three act narrative structure gives a real purpose to every single scene and makes the running time fly by, with the result that the film feels a lot shorter than it actually is. In fact if anything I'd argue strongly for a running time extension, in that I would have loved more of an epilogue in order to make the ending feel a little less rushed. The structure of the film, combined with the lighter tone (compared to most war movies) and ensemble cast of characters reminded me a lot of The Great Escape, and while I hold that film in very high regard I do think this is actually the superior picture in many ways. One of the most enjoyable war movies I've seen.
It deserves its notoriety. In the original film, Lee Marvin builds a Suicide Squad-like unit of war criminals featuring the like of Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland for an attack on a chateau full of Nazi high-ups. For modern audiences, it's hard not to find the inspiration for many scenes in Inglourious Basterds. I was surprised at how long we stayed with the convicts' training and bonding, but that's what made it rise above more standard fare. The moral ambiguity evidenced throughout stands as its only real anti-war commentary. There are no "good" soldiers, nor are there "bad" ones.
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In 7 official lists
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This movie ranks #14 in Quentin Tarantino's Coolest Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #46 in 101 War Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #65 in AFI's 100 years...100 thrills
This movie ranks #230 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
This movie ranks #250 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #429 in 501 Must See Movies
This movie ranks #676 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films