Kelly's Heroes (1970)
May 12, 2018 6:31 PM - Subscribe

A group of U.S. soldiers sneaks across enemy lines to get their hands on a secret stash of Nazi treasure.

Kelly's Heroes is a 1970 American war comedy film, directed by Brian G. Hutton, about a group of World War II American soldiers who go AWOL to rob a bank behind enemy lines. The film stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O'Connor, and Donald Sutherland, with secondary roles played by Harry Dean Stanton, Gavin MacLeod, and Stuart Margolin. The screenplay was written by British film and television writer Troy Kennedy Martin. The film was a US-Yugoslav co-production, filmed mainly in the Croat village of Vižinada on the Istria peninsula. (wiki)

"A curious fusion of men-on-a-mission and caper flick, this late ‘60s war movie is arguably much more about Vietnam than it is the WWII setting it nominally dwells inside. The tone is slightly whimsical and amoral, with its ragged gang of hoodlums out for themselves hardly the sturdy warriors of celluloid history. Greed is their motivation, the ideals of war can go hang. And Oddball, Donald Sutherland’s oafish, vacant tank commander, is pure anachronism, a dopehead flower-child afloat twenty years before he should even exist. Brian G. Hutton is treating the plains of war and their grand cinematic treatment with a swallow of disgust —why the hell shouldn’t these grab-bag weirdoes chase the loot? — but his accusations feel contemporary. Hey, isn’t that the American Dream they are screwing with?" (empireonline)

32 things you didn’t know about Kelly’s Heroes – Donald Sutherland was ill, expected to die before his wife got to Yugoslavia (thevintagenews)

"Woof woof woof! That's my other dog imitation."
— Oddball (tvtropes)

Kelly's Heroes Official Trailer
posted by valkane (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
treating the plains of war and their grand cinematic treatment with a swallow of disgust —why the hell shouldn’t these grab-bag weirdoes chase the loot? — but his accusations feel contemporary. Hey, isn’t that the American Dream they are screwing with?

I think the relationship with war is a little more ambiguous. After all, they get the front moving again. They certainly don't put the audience in the situation of rooting for someone who's damaging the war effort and the opposition to war is rooted in opposition to bureaucrats and managers, not dislike of the violence or harm it causes. (The more-or-less remake Three Kings is more willing to hit this head on.)

Regardless I love this movie so much. The build up from a modest scheme by a few soldiers to everyone and their brother chasing the prize, divisions marching across the map, is one of those really well crafted bits of comedy where they take you to an absurd place in tiny logical steps.
posted by mark k at 7:21 PM on May 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Donald Sutherland is so good in this.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:37 PM on May 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

My take was always that they felt completely justified in going after the treasure, after all they had been through. People were going to get rich off the war in way more shady ways, and Kelly would be damned if he didn't cut a small piece of the pie.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:39 PM on May 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

The key line is when crapgame tells big joe to make a deal with the nazis in the tiger tank just outside the bank. He says “Maybe he’s a Republican. Business is business.”

This shit has beeen going on for ages.
posted by valkane at 8:59 PM on May 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Karl-Otto Alberty was great. He looks the perfect stereotype of the fanatical Nazi-Prussian SS officer, complete with dueling scar. Except he's a Sergeant, and he blows open the bank for cash at the drop of a hat. It's the American way!

I'd have loved to see a sequel, their next adventure of getting the gold home (or at least to Switzerland) and bribing someone to assign them to the rear so they can live to spend it.

Hippies in WW2! Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland and Don Rickles! And Archie Bunker as De Gaulle!
posted by Marky at 3:17 PM on May 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

John Landis came up with the story for An American Werewolf in London when he was working as a production assistant on this movie.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:31 AM on May 14, 2018

Donald Sutherland's then-wife Shirley Douglas was arrested for trying to buy hand grenades for the Black Panthers with a personal check from an undercover FBI agent.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:45 AM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I find myself quoting this movie more than I'd like to admit -- "again with the negative waves, Moriarty".
posted by Zonker at 11:46 AM on May 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is a stop-and-watch movie for me. I love how it manages to be a comedy and a decent war adventure at the same time. I imagine the chaos in France after Operation Cobra with thousands of war machines on the move and nearly 6,000 trucks carrying supplies 24 hours a day to propel their advance was a lot like this picture
posted by ob1quixote at 10:40 PM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

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