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KELLY'S HEROES (1970)

Set in WW 2, when German Colonel is captured by American soldiers, ex-Lieutenant Kelly manages to extract information from the P.O.W. pertaining to a secret mission that involves $16,000,000, and a German bank behind enemy lines.  Determined to get "in on the action," Kelly and his men head into German-occupied France in hopes of stealing the gold for themselves.

The cast includes Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland, Carroll O'Connor, Gavin MacLeod, Stuart Margolin, and Harry Dean Stanton.

Director Brian G. Hutton, with "Kelly's Heroes," has delivered a fun, character driven World War Two caper flick.

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"They set out to rob a bank... and damn near won a war instead!"


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World War Two: During a night battle on the outskirts of the French town, an ex-lieutenant, now Private Kelly (Clint Eastwood), interrogates a captured German Colonel Dumpkoppf (David Hurst) about the bar of gold found in his satchel, as their unit's quarters are being barraged by both sides. After getting the Colonel drunk, he alone finds out about 16 million dollars of gold bars that were delivered to a bank,30 miles behind enemy lines. He takes his plan to steal the gold to his unit, led by Master Sergeant Big Joe (Telly Savalas), to offer them an alternative choice on how to spend their 3 day leave, rather than to hang around a French farmhouse with no "action." Against Big Joe's better judgment, not only does the whole platoon vote to go get it, but Kelly organizes others to go along with the plan, to form an assembled Army team to go after it. Three tanks, under the command of a peculiar fellow, Oddball, and the wheeler/ dealer Crap Game (Don Rickles).

The fine direction was by experienced action director, Brian Hutton, who also did such films as WHERE EAGLES DARE, and HIGH ROAD TO CHINA.

The fun script which combines action and laughs, was written by Troy Kennedy Martin.

Clint Eastwood is well cast as a tough military guy with a get rich scheme. Eastwood looks great in uniform, and represents a figure of authority, surrounded by wild cards such as Savalas, Rickles, Sutherland, and Margolin.

My favorite scene takes place in a French bank behind enemy lines. The scene, which utilizes an American tank to break into the bank, as the Germans approach, is an exciting, well staged action sequence.

The late Telly Savalas is great as the U.S. military group's sergeant. Long before Savalas had his big break as TV's "Kojak," Savalas was a busy Hollywood character actor, appearing in numerous films includingTHE DIRTY DOZEN and THE SCALPHUNTERS. A favorite line: "If I hear any more threats against the Captain's life, or any more rumors about going down to headquarters and assassinating the General, or raping the nurses at the field hospital, I'm going to strangle the guy with my bare hands! Got it? When I come back, I want this farm house looking like a night club. Do you get that?"

Donald Sutherland may seem a little out of place as a hippie in World War Two, but he adds to the fun of the plotline, and he does command his 3 tanks effectively. His long haired hippie character, aptly named "Oddball," does have a lot of funny lines, and adds a lot to the humor. He is big on having a positive outlook on life. One of his men, Moriarty (Gavin MacLeod), expresses his worry crankily about whether there was going to be a unbombed bridge left for them to cross over with their tanks. Oddball's Answer; "Moriarty, always with the negative waves! It's a mother beautiful bridge, and its going to be there!"

The film is rated PG. As it is an action war movie, there are scenes showing both Germans and the Americans being killed in rather ferocious gun battles.

If you enjoyed KELLY'S HEROES, you may like WHERE EAGLE'S DARE, THE DIRTY DOZEN, OPERATION PETTICOAT, THREE KINGS, and BRAVO TWO ZERO.

Quotes:

OddBall: "Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?"