Writer: Nunnally Johnson, Lukas Heller (Screenplay) E M Nathanson (Novel)
Starring: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel, Donald Sutherland
Plot: During World War II, a rebellious U.S. Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Classic We All Know
Story: The Dirty Dozen starts as Major Reisman (Marvin) is assigned to train 12 convicted criminals lined up for execution to go on a secret mission in German during World War II. The criminals include Joseph Wladislaw (Brosnan), Robert Jefferson (Brown) and Victor Franko (Cassavetes) who along with the rest of the crew must go under training to be combat ready.
The men start coming into shape and start working in a unit but when other generals want to bring down and end the unit, Reisman must fight to get his men on the battle field to prove to General Worden (Borgnine) he can turn get these men into battle.
Thoughts on The Dirty Dozen
Characters/Performance – Major Reisman is the man assigned the criminal unit, he knows how to get men into line when it comes to battle and will risk his own career to prove he can make these men a powerful unit. General Worden assigns Reisman the unit believe he couldn’t get it done but also has to make the decisions on who to put into the field. Joseph Wladislaw is one of the criminals who happily takes up the role required and his German speaking background helps on the mission. Jefferson takes up one of the reluctant leaders of the unit. Franko is the one that rebels the most but soon learns his place even when he is standing up for the right thing.
Story – The story follows a group of misfits being pulled together to go on a deadly mission, this is always an entertaining type of story to watch as we like unlikely heroes but the problem with a lot of this story is we must support murderers who are just escaping death row rather than guys who have just fallen of the rails. The story is also slightly long but it does give each supporting character enough time.
Action/Adventure/Comedy/War – We have the standard war time action sequences that have never come off overly original. We have nice moments of comedy mostly through the training sequences and the adventure coming from how hard the men must work.
Settings – Each setting works as it shows the different stages from the training to the mission itself.
Final Thoughts – This will always go down as one of the classic in war films and even after 50 years it doesn’t feel like it has been dated yet.
Overall: Still one of the classics of cinema.