Guns of the Silver Screen: V21N1
By Kyle Shea
The Dirty Dozen & The Wild Geese
“The Dirty Dozen” hit theaters in 1967 and was a big success. It was well liked by audiences, though there was some criticism for the violence, which was pretty rough for the time. It stars Lee Marvin, a World War II Veteran who was once awarded the Purple Heart. In fact, the film is full of WWII veteran actors, including Robert Ryan, Clint Walker, Telly Savalas, and Charles Bronson of the “Death Wish” series. It is the story of a group of criminals in the US Army being recruited to take out a group of top German Officers, hoping to make the D-Day Landings easier in the process. It is actually based on the novel of the same name, written by E. M. Nathanson, who took inspiration from the Filthy Thirteen, a real fighting unit from WWII. Unlike “The Dirty Dozen” from the film and book, Filthy Thirteen got their name because they wouldn’t shave or bath for weeks, and were not a collection of criminals who were promised a better sentence.
“The Dirty Dozen” is a classic guy movie. In the movie “Sleepless in Seattle,” after a woman has stopped crying over a movie she had just watched, the two men in the room suddenly recall the death of a character in “The Dirty Dozen” and start tearing up, much to the woman’s enjoyment. In 1985, a made for TV movie aired staring some of the original cast, called “The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission.” It was soon followed by “Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission” and “Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission.” The movies aren’t great and are obviously made for TV, with parts fading to black at certain points for the commercials. The last two movies see the return of Telly Savalas, though he plays an entirely different character from the one he played in the first movie.
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