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TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: World War II - Battlefront Europe (Kelly's Heroes / Where Eagles Dare / The Dirty Dozen / Battleground)
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TCM Greatest Classic Films: World War II-Battlefront Europe (4FE) (DVD)
KELLYS HEROES 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 this alternately action-filled and tongue-in-cheek tale of GIs who decide to get something extra out of the war. Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland and Don Rickles co-star. THE DIRTY DOZEN Lee Marvin portrays a tough-as-nails major volunteered in the Army way to command a squad of misfits on a suicide mission against Nazi brass. Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Trini Lopez, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland and Clint Walker are among the 12 jailbirds who will earn their freedom if they survive. WHERE EAGLES DARE The mission is clear. Get in. Get the general. Get out. Commandos charged with freeing a U.S. general from an Alpine fortress should also be told to trust nothing including the search-and-rescue orders just issued. Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood are in command in this twisty wartime thriller from a book by action master Alistair MacLean. BATTLEGROUND William A. Wellman directs a gripping tale of 101st Airborne troops resisting Hitler's fierce, final counteroffensive at Bastogne. James Whitmore as a feisty sergeant and Van Johnson as a wisecracking private star in this rugged and unsparing look at men in combat. Winner of Best Story, Best Screenplay and Best Cinemtaography Oscars (1949).]]>
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Clint Eastwood stars as Kelly a busted down ex Lieutenant, Terry Savalas as a tuff Master Sergent, Don Rickles as a supply Staff Sergent/ machine gunner, Donald Sutherland as a wacko tank Sergent in charge of 3 Sherman tanks and Carroll O'Connor as a two star General.
Kelly discovers 13 million dollars in gold bars are in a bank 3o miles behind enemy lines guarded by three Tiger tanks and supporting German infantry. The war is almost over and the Americans are advancing and will liberate the town in a few days. Kelly must steal the the gold ASAP. With lots of American soldiers help, they attack, destroy and kill the Germans with the exception of one Tiger tank that won't leave protecting the front of the bank. With the help of a German Sergent in the Tiger tank they blow the bank and steal the gold right before Carroll O'Connor the two star General and his army drive into town with a parade/liberation party going on. Great movie 5 stars.
Where Eagles Dare is an action packed WWII spy story...attacking a German stronghold on top of an almost inaccessible mountain. Clint Eastwood as an American Lieutenant Ranger working for the British. Richard Burton stars as a British spy disguised as a German Major.Lots of twists and turns in this spy story. The British MI6 has been infiltrated by German spies and Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood and a group of loyal (NOT) British spy/soldiers must rescue (or so it seams) a captured American General (NOT) who has the plans for the D day invasion before he talks. Turns out the loyal enlisted British spy/soldier help are German spies as well as the Corporal American (an actor)playing the part of the captured American General. All this was to get the list of the German spies that had infiltrated MI6. Lots if action, a pretty Fraulein, explosions, massive amounts of gunfight. Great movie 5 stars
The Dirty Dozen is about a non conformist American Major(Lee Marvin) that does not get along with the higher brass ( Earnest Borgnine a two star General and others. George Kennedy is a war games observer Major. Lots of other stars. The non conformist Major must whip twelve US soldier prisoners, many sentenced to hang into a fighting group to kill as many high level German officers in a heavily guarded resort (pleasure palace). We see their advanced training and them refusing to shave in cold water. Hence they are not allowed soap or shaving. They become the Dirty Dozen. Lots of battle action. Many Germans killed at the resort and almost all the dirty Dozen are killed. Great movie 5 stars
Battle ground was a B/W movie standard version about the counter attack by the Germans and defending of Baston by what became "The Bastards of Baston". Van Johnson and Richard Montalban star. We see the human side of war in this movie. Many of the GIs show their human frailties and fears as well as their bravery. There are Germans sneaking into the US ranks disguised as US soldiers.Password after password. Lots of battle action and a nice scene of a French young women supporting two small children after their parents were killed and how well they interacted with the small group of US soldiers. This movie surprised me as I only expected a 3 star movie. A great movie 4 1/2 stars.
I wish TCM would of done this correction right with 4 individual DVDs individually wrapped in their own jewel boxes. Not. Two double sided DVDs. For this reason I gave this DVD collection 4 1/2 stars.
Kelly's Heroes: Great cast (couldn't put one together like that anymore) with the right blend of humor and action. Presented in Widescreen - Letterbox.
Great Escape: No review necessary you know the movie. Presented in matted Widescreen.
Where Eagles Dare : Clint and Richard Burton....need I say anymore? Presented in matted Widescreen.
Battleground : Pretty cool underrated movie with Van Johnson and Ricardo Montalbon. Very worth the watch. Presented in Standard Version.
First on the list is Kelly's Heroes, an unusual comedy about GIs attempting to steal Nazi gold. Great suspense and witty humor (not to mention a hippy, played by Donald Sutherland) make this film entertaining and memorable.
Secondly, we have the Dirty Dozen, a fantastic story of twelve condemned men granted freedom if they agree to do a suicide mission. Great acting and a thrilling climax make this film great.
Thirdly, we have Where Eagles Dare, an incredible spy thriller in the tradition of the Guns of Navarone. With about a thousand plot twists and stunning action, Where Eagles Dare is near-perfect.
Lastly, we have Battleground, the oldest film in this collection. Pacing issues aside, this is one great film, and features some of Hollywood's greatest actors. Definitely recommended.
The film transfers are uniformly good quality. The extras - mostly "making of . . ." shorts - are OK but not great. In short, this set is exactly what it claims to be, and it's fine that way. Any WWII or WWII-movie buff ought to have these films in their collection - they are, if not exactly models of historical accuracy, certainly key touchstones of the genre. You can't have any credibility on the subject without an intimate familiarity with "The Dirty Dozen", "Where Eagles Dare", and "Kelly's Heroes"; "Battleground" is not as well known, but is regarded as an excellent movie of its type, and much more realistic than the other three.
All in all, this is a good set of good movies at a good price. What more do you want?
OK - for the few who actually haven't seen the films, here's a capsule summary:
"The Dirty Dozen": a renegade Army major is tasked with a suicide mission against a Nazi officers' retreat; he recruits misfits from an Army prison, all sentenced to death or long terms, and offers them the possibility of freedom if they will serve on this mission - but first he has to whip the worst soldiers in the Army into a team of top commandos, then they have to actually execute the mission against insane odds. Naturally, the Dirty Dozen rise to the occasion, but not without paying a price. It's kind of a goofy, high-spirits combat film, but it's notable for helping to create the cliche's that defined the genre thereafter: the "rag-tag band of misfits" who come together when the chips are down; the white racist who grudgingly comes to accept his black comrade; the salad-bowl assortment of token minorities (one black, one Hispanic, one Jew . . .) who earn respect by fighting for it; the selfless sacrifice by one man for his buddies; the hero who gets cut down by gunfire just steps from safety . . . . Also notable for memorable performances by Lee Marvin as the major; football star-turned actor Jim Brown as the doomed token black guy; lounge singer Trini Lopez, as, incomprehensibly, a singing death-row Hispanic commando (???); Charles Bronson as the quiet tough guy; and Telly Savalas as the psychotic killer who can't hold it together. Good supporting performances by Ernest Borgnine, actor/director John Cassavetes, and a young Donald Sutherland.
"Kelly's Heroes": a goofy WWII comedy from 1970 that, reading between the lines, can be seen as embodying more than a little of the anti-war counter-culture of that era; easily the strangest "war movie" set in WWII, arguably not actually a war movie. The plot has renegade busted-Lieutenant-now-Private Kelly (Clint Eastwood) discovering a deposit of Nazi gold bars being held in a small-town bank vault behind German lines. He talks his platoon into staging an unauthorized mission, without knowledge of their officers, during a three-day layover period - they will infiltrate the German sector, find the bank, steal the gold, and be back before anyone notices. Naturally, things go awry. Good comedy work from Don Rickles as the supply-sergeant fixer who pulls the strings for them - for a price, Carrol O'Connor as the raving general who mistakes their bank job for a real assault and races to pin medals on them while they're still unloading the gold, and Gavin MacLeod (future captain of the "Love Boat") in a small role. Telly Savalas is back again as the tough sergeant who reluctantly goes along to try to keep his men from getting killed. Donald Sutherland shines in a supporting role as a laid-back beatnik tank driver who provides their heavy armor - when he's not too stoned to keep awake. The movie is genuinely funny, but there are realistic scenes of intense combat, as well, that keep reminding you that war is no joke - good people die, and often for a lot less reason than a bar of gold.
"Where Eagles Dare": one of the best-known and well-liked "serious" war movies about WWII, it is in many ways as over-the-top as the two previous films. Staged as a war movie, it's actually an action/espionage caper; the script was written by mystery-thriller author Len Deighton from his own novel, and could easily have been a James Bond film, other than for all the Nazi uniforms in evidence. The plot has it that a top British officer was captured and is being held in an impregnable German castle high on a mountaintop - reachable only by a suspended tram. A team of British commandos, with one tag-along American (Clint Eastwood, again), has to infiltrate the schloss in disguise. ("Fortunately, you all speak fluent German!" Yeah, that was lucky.) But things are not as they seem. The mission quickly begins to unravel, and it gradually unfolds that almost nobody from the Allied side is really who they claim to be. Richard Burton, the team leader ("He's the best man we've got!"), has to figure out who's really on his side, break up a German spy ring that has infiltrated British high command, and get the survivors out of the castle. There is little combat, but the overall tension is high and there are some spectacular scenes of sneaking in and out of the castle on the aerial tram. Good spy movie disguised as a war movie - totally unrealistic as either, but who cares?
"Battleground": really the only "real" war movie in the set, it is a realistic and gritty dramatization of the 101st Airborne in the Battle of the Bulge. It illustrates the constant danger and uncertainty of the combat zone: infiltrators and psychological warfare from the Germans; fog and clouds that prevent re-supply; and the ever-present fear. Stars B-list perennials Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban, and George Murphy.