Recently, some meathead friend of a friend was perusing my video collection and asked me with a sneer on his face, "What kind of girl owns The Dirty Dozen?"
Can I help it if this chick has taste?
Of course I completely understand the assumption that this is a guy's movie. After all, the only females to feature in the film are whores. While women played an important role in the WWII victory, they were more in the factories than on the front lines. I refrain from saying only men enjoy watching stuff get blown up, but I will venture to say that if my father had had sons, he might have introduced them to this film genre rather than his daughters.
But this is a quality film with enough substance for both genders to enjoy. After all, this is a film about redemption. Lee Marvin must struggle to make worthy soldiers out of men who would steal, rape, and murder. The importance of a meaningful death is the motivation behind his troop's transformation.
The movie is a little slow, but the script is good and the action alternates between wildly humorous and intensely suspenseful. Furthermore, this film is full of amazing moments of character development. Charles Bronsen's failed attempt at a word-association exercise. Telly Savalas's portrayal of chilling insanity. Donald Sutherland as the idiot "general" inspecting the troops. Jim Brown, who does not care to fight the white man's war but can not suppress his own heroic nature. And John Cassavantes as the tricky, irrepressible Victor Franco, the guy we love to hate. Or is that hate to love?