Total Film - 07/01/2000
"...Brimming with excitement and humour, yet also staying resolutely honourable to its storytelling..." -- 4 out of 5 stars
USA Today - 06/05/1998
"Any movie with Telly Savalas as a psychotic named A.J. Maggott is already halfway home....[A] red-meat classic..."
Uncut - 08/01/2004
"[I]t's a relentless work -- violent, funny and deeply cynical."
Sight and Sound - 09/01/2004
Total Film - 07/01/2006 4 stars out of 5 -- "Robert Aldrich's gleefully nasty, willfully daft action adventure is ageing well."
Ultimate DVD - 07/01/2006 3 stars out of 5 -- "A new twist -- in its time -- on the war movie....It's a good cast..."
An all-star cast energizes Robert Aldrich's classic World War II action drama about a group of 12 American military prisoners assembled by tacticians and ordered to perform a suicide mission: infiltrate a well-guarded château and kill the Nazi officials vacationing there. The incarcerated soldiers, most of whom are facing death sentences for a variety of violent crimes, jump at the chance to redeem themselves. Major Reisman (Lee Marvin), the noncriminal in charge of the group, whips the men into a crack unit, uses them to best the troops of his by-the-book superior officer, Colonel Breed (Robert Ryan), in war games, then leads the steely antiheroes on their perilous assault.
The film is studded with standout performances, including Telly Savalas as a religious psychopath with a febrile animosity toward Germans and John Cassavetes in an Oscar-nominated portrayal as an insubordinate, poison-tongued hothead. Ernest Borgnine, Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson, and football legend Jim Brown further round out the impressive collection of talent. Aldrich, who by the time of THE DIRTY DOZEN had been fathoming the darker side of life onscreen for more than a decade (KISS ME DEADLY, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE'), scored a huge hit with this rousing thriller laced with a stinging cynicism perfectly in tune with the increasingly skeptical tenor of the times.
Essential Cinema |
Theatrical Release |
World War II
Color by Metrocolor; shot in Metroscope and blown up to 70mm.
Filmed in Aldbury, Herfordshire and Borehamwood Studios, UK. Began shooting April 25, 1966. Released in the USA June 15, 1967. Shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City November 19, 1974, and then again June 29-30, 1980, as part of the series "John Cassavetes: Filmmaker and Actor."
The song "Einsam" also by Sibylle Siegfried.
Additional cast: Tom Busby (Milo Vladek), Al Mancini (Tassos Vladek), George Roubicek (Private Arthur James Gardner), Dora Reisser (German Officer's Girl), Stuart Cooper (Roscoe Lever), Colin Maitland (Seth Sawyer), Thick Wilson (General Worden's Aide), and Robert Phillips.
Additional credits: Julian Mackintosh (production manager), Alan McCabe (camera operator), Angela Allen (continuity)
Rated BBFC 15 by the British Board of Film Censors.
DVD Special Features: Behind the Scenes Featurette, Trivia and Production Notes, Theatrical Trailer.