Kelly's Heroes (1970)

Kelly's Heroes (1970), directed by Brian G. Hutton.

Comic WW2 caper film on an ambitious scale. Clint Eastwood is the star but it is an ensemble picture. Telly Savalas tends to dominate the scenes he's in. He's the only ethical character, doing it for the other men rather than the money. Extra comedy from Don Rickles ("Crapgame", a hustler) and Donald Sutherland ("Oddball", a hippy tank commander who must have a time machine somewhere).

It's mostly fun. They mow down armies of Germans in largely bloodless mayhem. The shouting and comic mugging was funnier then than now; time is hard on comedy. The whole tone is vastly cynical, but this was the Vietnam era and Hollywood respect for the military had been declining for a long time. There was a long period on TV and in the movies where officers were nothing but buffoons and no plot was too ridiculous.

Best to skip over technical problems, like the difference between mortars and artillery field pieces. Also: movie makers seem to have no idea how much gold weighs. The actors sling it around as if it were brass plated props.

There is one segment that stands out: the approach to and entry of the town with the Nazi gold before the big battle is nicely tense, well staged and photographed.

The "Burning Bridges" theme song, a bit of bubble-gum sung by the Mike Curb Congregation, is a woefully unfortunate choice. I remember it had some radio play. Other than that the Lalo Schifrin score is fine, particularly in the above mentioned pre-battle sequence.

Available on Blu-ray.

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