Thursday, April 15, 2010

Going for the gold with 'Kelly's Heroes'

Kelly's Heroes (1970)
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland and Caroll O'Connor
Director: Brian G. Hutton
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

When disgraced US Army Lt. Kelly (Eastwood) discovers the location of a cache of Nazi gold, he decides it would make a nice little bonus for himself and his squad. Never mind that the gold is locked in a bank vault, deep within territory still held by the Germans. Never mind the gung-ho general (O'Connor) who is convinced they are intent on winning WW2 by themsevles and that he is following their every move. For Kelly and his men, the gold is what it's all about.

"Kelly's Heroes" is one of my favorite war movies. With a perfect cast, a script that perfectly balances action and humor, a director who fluidly moves between the two and is equally skilled at staging the intimate scenes as he is at those involving tank battles and exploding buildings, and a music score that's flawless, there's virtually nothing wrong with this movie.

The only complaint I have is Sutherland's character. His hippy-esque tank commander character seems terribly out-of-place in a WW2 environment; I thought such characters were annoying when they showed up in Bob Kanigher's "Sgt. Rock of Easy Company" stories, and I think they're just as misplaced here. But, damn it, if Sutherland doesn't give such a great performance, and the character doesn't have such great lines (not to mention crazy ideas) that I can't help but like him. Still, it's a character that dates the movie, and I'm sure he was far funnier to the doobie-smoking audiences in 1970.

Whether you enjoy good war movies or good comedies, I think you'll like "Kelly's Heroes."

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