Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Dirty Dozen

Surely The Dirty Dozen (1967), directed by Robert Aldrich, should be counted as a true classic. I have seen comments criticizing it as a bad war movie but, the truth is, I think this is a bit like Inglorious Basterds, set during WW II but not really a war movie. Cast is extraordinary: Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson (The SevenMagnificent, The Great Escape), George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke), JohnCassavetes, Donald Sutherland.
Reisman is a major in the US Army with unorthodox methods, which makes him unpopular with the top officers. He is assigned twelve prisoners sentenced to death so he can train them and embark them on a mission in Germany.
Movie lasts for more than 2 hours, and most of it is dedicated to the training of the twelve prisoners, the “dirty dozen”.

Reisman: You've seen a general inspecting troops before haven't you? Just walk slow, act dumb and look stupid!

Reisman: You know what to do, feed the French and shoot the Germans!

Reisman: What do you think, Sergeant?
Sergeant Bowren: I think you'll do just fine, sir.
Reisman: Don't give me that! I said what do you think?

Sergeant Bowren: I think the first chance one of those lovers gets, he's going to shoot the Major right in the head... sir.

One way to enjoy this movie is to not see it as a war film. Mostly it is fun – the training scenes are the best. But it’s got it all: humor, action, suspense, great pace. It is politically incorrect, with no cheap heroic actions, no patriotic bullshit. But to me, Reisman (Marvin) represents the best manager ever. He manages to bring the twelve men on his side, and to create a real team spirit between the members of the team. Originally through deals and threats, but in the end there is a real complicity between everyone. John Cassevetes shines and I think not enough credit is given to Lee Marvin’s performance.  I keep a soft spot for Charles Bronson, magnificent as ever.
All in all, a very good moment

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