Number of Times Seen – Too many to count (Cable, video, DVD, 9 May 2013 and 5 May 2020)
Link to original review – Here
Brief Synopsis – A group of deadly military criminals doing either hard time or waiting on death row are given the opportunity to exonerate their names if they join in a secret mission against the Nazi high command.
My Take on it – This is a movie that I recall seeing as a kid for the first time and I’ve always loved revisiting it because it is such a great story that resonates throughout.
The premise is so ingenious and they find a way to make it all play out so well.
Lee Marvin is the perfect choice as the leader of this ragtag group of prisoners/soldiers and he is helped so much by the supporting cast of actors that include Charles Bronson, George Kennedy, Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan and John Cassavetes to name a few.
The plot is constructed really well and the film allows for these characters to form a close bond over the course of the story mostly during their training.
This enhances things so much because it shows how they could work together in order to make them a congealed fighting unit.
The mission that they are sent on only takes place during the final third of the film and feels a bit secondary to the training scenes dealt with up until that point and those scenes are what help make this film so memorable.
The plot is quite heavy but they find ways to lighten the atmosphere again and again along the way in order to keep things even more enjoyable to watch unfold.
The overall plot of the film and the premise has been copied numerous times (including in 3 pseudo sequels and a TV show), but none of them are able to come even close to reaching the heights that they manage to get to with this film.
This is my favorite film form 1967.
Bottom Line – Such an amazing premise that is played out so well here. Marvin is perfect;y cast as the leader of the group and the supporting cast all help make this such a memorable film. The plot is created quite well and the way that they find allow these characters to forge a bond over the course of their training works really well in establishing them as a congealed fighting unit. The mission itself is secondary to the way the training of these soldiers because that is what helps make this story stand out. The story is quite heavy yet they find ways to lighten the atmosphere with some comedic moments that keep things even more enjoyable to watch unfold. This film’s overall plot has been copied numerous times (even in 3 pseudo sequels and a TV series) yet none of them come close to reaching the heights that they manage to get to here. Highly Recommended!
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The scene where one of the dozen pretends to be a General inspecting Robert Ryan’s troops was initially written for Samson Posey (Clint Walker). However, Walker was uncomfortable with this scene, so director Robert Aldrich decided to use Donald Sutherland instead. The scene was directly responsible for Sutherland being cast in MASH (1970), which made him an international star. (From IMDB)
Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10) (no change from original review)
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