They’re dirty. There’s twelve of them!
BQB here with a review of the WW2 classic, “The Dirty Dozen.”
Killing Nazis is a tough job, but someone has to do it, 3.5 readers.
And when it comes to a suicide mission deep in the heart of Nazi-dom, only men with nothing left to lose will do.
Enter Major Reisman (Lee Marvin), the surly soldier who gets results, but instead of the accolades he deserves, gets nothing but disdain from the brass who wax chairs with their asses but don’t know the first thing about actual combat in the field.
There’s a mansion in Germany where Hitler’s top men meet, and General Worden (Ernest Borgnine) wants them dead. The plan? Twelve men will parachute into the territory and kill as many Nazis as they can, by any means necessary.
Only the worst of the worst will be willing. Men beyond redemption facing either life in prison or a date with the noose. Reisman is ordered to recruit his men from a military prison filled with lowlives, degenerates, killers, rapists, thieves and con men – ex-soldiers who have been drummed out of the service for betraying the trust once placed in them.
Most of them are, indeed, scum without question. Perhaps one or two were just in the wrong place at the wrong time or have an understandable excuse. By and large though, these are men who would just as soon stab their new commanding officer in the back as opposed to work with him.
Eventually, they come around. The majority of the film (and it’s way too long) is spent on the training. Slowly but surely, Reisman wins the respect of these dirtballs and eventually, convinces them that he’s offering them the one and only shot they’ll ever have at redemption so they’d better take it and not screw it up. Resiman is a better man than these men, but as his superiors often remind him, it’s a miracle he hasn’t been court martialed himself, as his methods are extreme and on the battlefield, he walks right up to the “line” and occasionally, crosses it when no one is looking.
SPOILER ALERT (though you’ve had a really long time to watch it) – 3/4th of the film is spent on the training that when it finally comes time for the big battle royale with the Nazis, you’re like, “Finally!”
Oddly enough, this film makes me feel bad for the Nazis. I know. I know. They were orchestrating the downfall of humanity. But at this particular moment, they were at a party and something about all those defenseless Nazis, cowering in a bunker as Reisman’s goon squad pours in gas and grenades and blows them all to smithereens. I don’t know. Yes, OK. They were Nazis but like…their wives and mistresses were there and they’re all crying and trying to claw their way out of what will become their tomb…look I’m glad we won the war but all I’m saying is that you have to be a real bastard to kill all those people (good or evil) in one sitting and not flinch and I suppose that’s where the Dirty Dozen comes in.
Is there a point to all this? Maybe we need to take the bastards of the world and direct their skills at lying and cheating and so on and put them to work on saving the world instead of ruining it for once?
And maybe today, we’re all like those generals with their fancy brass, criticizing the military from our easy chairs while we don’t have one iota of what the hell of war is really like.