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Stop With Those Negative Waves Moriarty!
Kelly's Heroes (DVD)
Member Name: T4imbo3107
Kelly's Heroes (DVD)
Date: 07/08/11, updated on 07/08/11 (78 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent cast!
Disadvantages: Two and a half hours in length!
A pre-Dirty Harry Clint Eastwood plays Kelly, an American Officer who performs interrogation on a captured German by means of getting him drunk. When the inebriated German rambles on about the hidden Gold being guarded in a French town Kelley and his band decide to take a detour from the war in an attempt to get the Gold for themselves; something that is worth in the region of $16 million to them. In the confusion of the continuous air bombardment from their own troops, Kelly hatches a plan and gathers what starts out to be a small band of soldiers, but as word spreads it soon becomes obvious that everyone wants a piece of this. Kelly gets help from an infantry of Tanks led by Donald Sutherland, whose character of Oddball is a somewhat strange character given the fact that he is a totally laidback hippy!
The film has a good cast, a young Eastwood who looks the part as Kelly proving his worth with a plan that he will see through leading a band of soldiers across Europe. Eastwood only has to stand there to deliver a thousand word stare at someone and in the film he does this a few times, he never seems to overplay his part as the leader at all with his dialogue being short and sharp. The men look up to him throughout and follow his lead. Eastwood using his part to give a scowl look that in some cases steals the scene from others.
Backing Eastwood up is Telly Savalas as Joe, a Sergeant that is second in command. Continually shouting and giving order Savalas is a hard as nails soldier that cares for the troops but doesn't want anyone to see it. Although not by the book in more ways than one the character does deliver on what he needs to do. Having a Tank Commander being played by Donald Sutherland... well it ain't going to be played straight!! The character of the long haired Oddball is an out of time Hippy dressed in various parts of various uniforms who believes negative waves are the cause of bad issues. He is the comic relief in the film and some of his antics do make you laugh when they happen, a good example is a scene where the tanks are in a face to face fight. Oddball's tank fires at point blank range, only for Kelly to discover they are firing paint instead of live rounds. Also his Tank is heavily customised as well to make the War more bearable for him and his team! Add in American comic Don Rickles as a wheeler dealer type character, Carroll O'Connor as the General and the cast and you have a very good mix and wide scope of characters that stand out on screen. Refreshingly all characters are used and never underused as they are all given a part to play and lines to deliver.
The film works on many levels, the adventure, the sporadic comedy that is well places and delivered well and also the action. The scenes have been shot in an epic style as you see war planes, explosions, gunfire, destroyed buildings and bridges. All happening with a vast amount of noise and chaos surrounding the subject that the film is showing, this takes the film to another level as it makes the film more interesting to watch and I have to say that I was impressed with this as it does given an additional level of quality to the film overall. Of course with all the noise going on it means that the characters do rather a lot of shouting whether it's on a radio or at each other the whole reality of War is bought to the screen in a rather frightening and realistic manner giving the viewer the experience of what is happening. Continuity is upheld throughout the film with the tanks and vehicles looking very convincing in appearance when on screen.
Even though in some parts of the film is entirely light hearted in nature, the film does not stray away from death at all, there are characters that are killed off as the film progresses and German soldiers killed in cold blooded circumstances, and again this brings a balance to the story, in the end the climax of the film could easily have gone into a massive battle with bloodshed at every turn, however it doesn't and the climax of the film, without going too deep, is satisfactory and to be honest quite right for the story. There is a strong statement within the film itself and I have heard some say that as this was released when America was involved with Vietnam, that a string anti-Vietnam message is projected. That is up to the viewer decide, for me this is a good film that entertains.
This film knows where it is based and knows what it wants to achieve from the outset and the pace of the film never lets up after the opening titles. There is a fair amount of suspense involved in the story, for example the team getting caught in a minefield en route to the village with a German patrol being spotted approaching. The situations such as this do tend to bring the characters together and its not just Kelly that has to "save the day" for the others as it's a case of everyone acting as a team and not as individuals. One thing that I noticed throughout is the film dares to be bold, after all this is a heist film that is set with the War as a background and so the location straight away has an expanded scope for things to happen and situations to be faced. In the film the exploits of Kelly's Heroes in their jaunt reached the ears of the General who becomes interested in what is happening and how this is being done, but never asks why it is being done. The portrayal by Carroll O'Connor is that of satire and the Officers that report to him are portrayed as inept and bumbling. Whether this was to make the leads look better I am unsure, but this certainly does add to the story and gives the character of the General who seems totally bored with what he is doing a new fresh stance, which leads him to become part of the story.
The action sequences themselves are well done and done without going over the top, in fact even though there is comedy in the film it is well balanced and used in quite a dry manner that allows the story to be told without being overshadowed for any reason by a person or part of the film. By this I mean that people will remember the film for what they are doing rather than a singular thing happening. Okay Sutherland does come close to stealing the film as his character would rather sunbathe than fight the War, and does this to genuine hilarity when one of his Tanks breakdown, but for me it is a number of things that combine to make the film what it is. Burning Bridges is a song that is used throughout the film and is a song that you won't get out of your head for days after. The soundtrack has been performed by Lalo Schifrin, a legend with who Eastwood would appear in the credits with numerous times after this film. The title song is somewhat futuristic with the setting of the story and definitely has that 60's vibe to it. At one point Schifrin does pay musical homage to Eastwood's previous cowboy films as a few familiar notes are played when the three main characters of Kelly, Joe and Oddball walk down to meet the Germans. Nice twist and a good way of playing the scene out.
Personally I was surprised this came out on Blu-ray, but am glad it did as I had the DVD version as well. The Khaki colours of the American uniforms with the Grey of the German tunics look splendid on screen whilst the dirt and grime of the battlefield location shown in the film look sharp and clear to the extent that footprints can be seen in the mud. The early scenes in the barn with dust dropping down from roof onto Kelly show the powerful clarity of the media as I swear the individual grains can be seen when an explosion nearby occurs. If you don't consider the Menus are part of the Extras then your going to be disappointed as only the trailer for the film is included, okay there could have easily been a little bit of effort with regards to the Extras being pumped up, but unfortunately not. However I wasn't that bothered about this as the film is undeniably another classic with the clarity and sound, so watching the film in its entire 146 minutes in an absolute pleasure to uphold and a film that you could easily watch again and again.
Overall it's a good old Sunday afternoon movie to watch, Sutherland as the Hippy Tank driving Commander will always be remembered as will the story and the other cast members, one thing I was surprised at was the natural delivery of the banter by the cast when they were talking as there is no floundering or looking like they were reading from idiot boards.
Summary: Eastwood does World War II.