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They were goldbricks until they found out about the gold bricks – a fortune in Nazi-confiscated bullion! Clint Eastwood reups with the director of his Where Eagles Dare for the action-filled and tongue-in-cheek tale of GIs who decide to get something extra out of the war. Eastwood’s title character masterminds a scheme to slip behind enemy lines and steal the loot. Co-stars include a trio on the verge of big-time TV success: Carroll O’Connor, Telly Savalas and Gavin MacLeod. Plus, Don Rickles plays the expectedly outspoken Crapgame. And in the same year as his starmaking M*A*S*H, Donald Sutherland is Oddball, World War II’s only hippie. Dig it!
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This is one of those motion pictures that you remember long after you forget which film won an academy award. Politicians get involved in wars for whatever reason. The men in the trenches have their own motivations. Some years ago, an acquaintance who had served in World War II told me that men fought for billets, i.e., places to spend the night. In this film they are planning to get a good hotel in Nancy when the Army reaches that city, but then they discover there is $16 million in gold bars in a bank located 30 miles behind the enemy lines. That breaks a stalemate when they head for the bank and the entire Army follows after them.
Clint Eastwood plays Kelly, broken back to the ranks after being used as a scapegoat. Telly Savalas is the platoon sergeant, Big Joe, that Kelly talks into the action. Don Rickles is Crapgame, the supply sergeant with connections who can get them everything they need. Donald Sutherland is Oddball, the commander of three Sherman tanks that have become detached from the Army. Carroll O'Connor is the general commanding that section of the front, who suddenly discovers that the Army has moved forward with nobody telling him.
The film has its moments. There are the usual SNAFUs as the men move forward, but they push on. The general only knows what he is picking up on the radio and thinks they are all a bunch of heroes ("Go! Go! Go!" "Get me my jeep - get me my box of medals"). Various individuals are dragged into the scheme as they are promised a share of the gold. Some enemy in the way? Make them a deal.
Unlike his westerns, Clint Eastwood does not leave the money behind when he rides off into the sunset. The song "Burning Bridges" will stick in your mind.
A previous reviewer was incorrect when he said some scenes were cut from the DVD version. I have the wide screen DVD, and the scenes are all there.
Overall I am happy camper.