A model for dozens of action films to follow, this box-office hit from 1967 refined a die-hard formula that has become overly familiar, but it's rarely been handled better than it was in this action-packed World War II thriller. Lee Marvin is perfectly cast as a down-but-not-out army major who is offered a shot at personal and professional redemption. If he can successfully train and discipline a squad of army rejects, misfits, killers, prisoners, and psychopaths into a first-rate unit of specialized soldiers, they'll earn a second chance to make up for their woeful misdeeds. Of course, there's a catch: to obtain their pardons, Marvin's band of badmen must agree to a suicide mission that will parachute them into the danger zone of Nazi-occupied France. It's a hazardous path to glory, but the men have no other choice to accept and regain their lost honor. What makes The Dirty Dozen
special is its phenomenal cast including Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, George Kennedy, Ernest Borgnine, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel, Jim Brown, Clint Walker, Trini Lopez, Robert Ryan, and others. Cassavetes is the Oscar- nominated standout as one of Marvin's most rebellious yet heroic men, but it's the whole ensemble--combined with the hard-as-nails direction of Robert Aldrich--that makes this such a high-velocity crowd pleaser. The script by Nunnally Johnson and Lukas Heller (from the novel by E.M. Nathanson) is strong enough to support the all-star lineup with ample humor and military grit, so if you're in need of a mainline jolt of testosterone, The Dirty Dozen
is the movie for you. The DVD extras are also a kick in the pants, including a promotional featurette showing Marvin and his stylishly macho costars enjoying some male bonding in the mod London bistros of the 1960s. (You almost expect Austin Powers to come speeding around the nearest corner, making it a dirty baker's dozen! Yeah, baby, yeah!) --Jeff Shannon
This special edition includes the behind-the-scenes documentary Operation Dirty Dozen
, the original theatrical trailer, and an all-new introduction by Ernest Borgnine.