Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

I honestly don’t know where to start with what is one of my all time favourites.  For me that means a movie I can watch many times and still get something out of it and not be bored.  The caper heist is always a wonderful genre to play with and gives a wonderful romantic view of the world of the master criminal.  Be it Pink Panther, or as far as Oceans Eleven, Kelly’s Heroes is another one that falls in perfectly where reality is suspended for a while in order not to get in the way of a great story.

Here we have a tired and worn our American platoon, after the D-Day landings in France.  They are at a loose end for a few days when they are told to relax and recuperate in a remote farm house with no booze or women!  

Telly Savalas plays Big Joe, the commander of the group who is a career army man who is there to get a job done.  

Clint Eastwood, plays Kelly, his second in command, who discovers a stray German officer who has some intelligence that may be useful to the Allie effort.

However, upon closer inspection, the German officer has 2 gold bars and after getting him drunk, Kelly discovers there is 14,000 bars sitting in a small town, 30 miles behind enemy lines relatively lightly guarded.  After a little bit of convincing, they decide to sneak behind the lines and take the gold for themselves.

But they need a little help.  Enter the excellent Oddball, played to perfection by 

Donald Sutherland.  Oddball is a tank commander of 3 Sherman tanks that have an unorthodox view of tank warfare, including shooting paint and playing loud music when they go into battle through the external speakers. 

Sutherland steals the show.  Think what Johnny Depp did for Captain Jack Sparrow and you have a hint of what Sutherland brings to the character and in turn the whole tone of the movie.  In his mannerisms, his dialogue and his interactions with his crew, there is no way this was scripted, this was Sutherland imagining this character Oddball.

The movie is not as light Oceans Eleven, as people die and war is well war.  People are being shot and killed in the pursuit of gold.  From that perspective you have to question the morality of this team.  In many respects you could liken them to the violet gang from De Niros Heat outing.  However, we the audience forgive them, because, after all, they are killing German soldiers.  So we get a pass to bypass this ethical issue.

Though while they are on a single mission, to get the gold, they do cause a bit of mayhem and as a side effect, break the fatigue on the front line and inspire the General to get moving towards Berlin.  As the tagline of the movie goes – they set out to rob a bank, and damn near won a war instead!

In addition to this, there is a great thumping soundtrack, with Mike Curb Congregation singing Burning Bridges.  A very 1960′s feel to it, even though the movie is set in the 1940′s.  It works though.

This is not your classic World War II movie by any stretch and is worthy of a watch on a Sunday afternoon when your weekend has come to an end and you want to go out with a smile.


Viewing Date
Saturday, 24th October 2015 (mid flight heading to SFO)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Author: Alan Williamson

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