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""The Dirty Dozen" became one of the biggest hits of 1967, placing behind only "The Graduate," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," and "Bonnie and Clyde." Its success was well-deserved and unsurprising given how enjoyable and stirring it is. Lee Marvin stars as a Major during WWII who is disliked by many of his superiors. He's assigned to lead a suicide style mission behind Nazi enemy lines. He's disinclined to do so, particularly after he meets his "troop" comprised of a dozen murderers and other criminals - the titular "dirty dozen." Despite his misgivings, Marvin eventually agrees to train and lead this rag-tag group, as a shot of redemption for all concerned.The story is constructed brilliantly, beginning with an introduction to the assignment and the dirty dozen, detailing their training, showing their first "mock" operation, and climaxing with their final mission. The cast is a superior mix of established stars and then-newcomers, including Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy, Charles Bronson, Trini Lopez, Jim Brown, Clint Walker, Telly Savalas, and Donald Sutherland. Special cudos go to Lee Marvin, who is terrific as the renegade Major, and John Cassavetes as the rebellious Franco; Cassavetes received his first Oscar nomination for the role (he later received one for writing and one for directing his own films). Director Robert Aldrich does his best-ever work (he was nominated for best director by the Director's Guild of America), building on such earlier hits as "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" and "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte." His skillful direction manages to make us care deeply and root for a collection of violent offenders. Overall, "The Dirty Dozen" is a first-rate action movie - one of the most enjoyable ever made. Extras: Included is a fascinating short (9:15) featurette, which was made at the time of release for promotional purposes. The short film presents the actors making the film and then relaxing in "swinging" London, shopping on King's Row, and so forth. A most fascinating time capsule! The building of the chateau for the film is also detailed; it was one of the largest sets ever built for a movie and was blown up for the climatic scene."
War Classic Stands Test of Time...
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 07/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Dirty Dozen", Robert Aldrich's 1967 adventure classic, would redefine a whole genre of films, as public attitudes towards warfare and heroism changed, due to Vietnam. With 'heroes' who were certainly not noble, a mission that would require a level of cruelty film audiences had never before seen from American fighting men, and graphic language and bloodshed, the impact of the the film was both immediate (despite huge 'box office', many critics panned the film as 'disturbing' and glorifying violence), and continuing (influencing films as diverse as "Patton" and "Saving Private Ryan"). It can be viewed at many levels, as a crackling good adventure yarn, an 'anti-establishment' and anti-war statement, the ultimate 'buddy' film...few films have generated as much controversy, or stood the passage of time, better!
Based on E.M. Nathanson's novel (of rumored 'Death Row' convicts offered a pardon or reduction of sentence for volunteering for a suicide mission), with a large dash of the Pathfinders' legendary "Filthy Thirteen" of WWII tossed in, the property was purchased as a potential starring vehicle for John Wayne. The Duke passed on the project, however (choosing to make "The Green Berets", instead). Director Aldrich never envisioned Wayne in the lead, preferring WWII Marine vet Lee Marvin in the complex role of maverick Maj. John Reisman, and the actor, fresh from winning an Oscar for "Cat Ballou", was dead-on perfect in the part. Veteran stars Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Ralph Meeker, Robert Webber, George Kennedy, and Richard Jaeckel were cast as Marvin's military allies and adversaries.
For the "Front Six" of the Dozen, sullen Charles Bronson (another WWII vet), John Cassavetes (who would garner an Oscar nomination), Telly Savalas (in the most 'whacked-out' role in his career), Clint Walker (of "Cheyenne" TV fame), football legend Jim Brown (in only his second film), and popular singer Trini Lopez (in his film debut) would dominate the screen time, with a "Back Six" of character actors in much smaller roles, simply filling out the rest of the twelve parts. But a movie 'miracle' occurred; when Walker objected to a scene where, as a bogus 'General', he would idiotically review an Airborne unit (feeling it demeaned Native Americans, who his character portrayed), Aldrich passed the scene to "Back Six" actor Donald Sutherland...and the scene would spectacularly launch his career, leading to his starring role in "M.A.S.H."
Aldrich's meticulous shooting style, and the often rainy British weather (where the film was shot), more than doubled the shooting schedule, and after seven months on location, Trini Lopez (on the advice of friend Frank Sinatra), informed Aldrich and the producers that he was missing singing dates, and would need a pay hike to continue. To Lopez' surprise, Aldrich 'dropped' him, having him die in the climactic parachute drop!
The director was warned that if he didn't eliminate the film's most controversial scene (pouring gasoline and dropping grenades on the women guests, as well as the Nazi officers seeking refuge in the bomb shelters), he would lose any chance of a 'Best Director' Oscar. After soul-searching, he left the scene in ("War is Hell, and HAS to be portrayed that way"), and while he sacrificed the prize, Robert Aldrich gave the film a brutal honesty that subsequent wars would sadly verify.
With loads of Disc Two Special Features that open up the film and gives an insight into why it has become a 'classic' (including the first "Dirty Dozen" TV 'sequel', a Lee Marvin Marine 'Leadership' training film, and an astonishing documentary on the "Filthy Thirteen"), it is absolutely an essential for any 'War Film' library.
"The Dirty Dozen" survived contemporary criticism, and has proven to be one of the most enduring war films of all time, as fresh today as when it debuted in 1967. "
Dirty Dozen is nice and clean on HD!
Elwood Conway | Frankfort, KY United States | 11/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow...this HD presentation captures everything, including (much maligned) film grain. It is most likely a better presentation than this film had when originally released to theaters. Visuals are wonderfully clear, the print is exceptionally clean and the sound, for a movie almost 40 years old, is top shelf. This is definitely the version to own!!"
The Dirty Dozen
T. Weigel | Philadelphia, PA United States | 10/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This HD DVD version does a great job at cleaning up the picture of a movie that is now almost 40 years old. This clasic was enjoyed, being watched in the house even by our kids that have never seen it before. I'll have to say the DD+ audio track was in overdrive on this movie in the battle scenes, the sub woofer and 7.1 surround sound was definetly rattling the house."
It's about time
Jordan M. Poss | Georgia, United States | 06/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Warner Brothers has made up for the long wait for a good DVD edition of The Dirty Dozen. This two-disc package is excellent, a major improvement on the previous release. Image quality: A new transfer to anamorphic video. The image is great--very sharp and clear, giving all due emphasis to the gritty quality of the story. In some shots you can see every pore on Lee Marvin's face. A little frightening, I suppose, but worth it. Sound: Very good. The Dirty Dozen won the Oscar for Best Sound Effects, and this DVD's sound does the film justice. Special features: Surprisingly good for a film as far-removed in time as this. The highlight, for me, was the commentary on the film by a few of the surviving actors, a film historian, and Cpt. Dale Dye of Warriors, Inc. Dye's salty commentary is the real jewel of the features on this edition. It's nice to see a movie I've loved since childhood getting the DVD it deserves. If you've been waiting for this DVD--or even if you haven't--pick it up as soon as you can. Highly recommended."