Continuing my streak of older films, I can honestly say that I really enjoyed "The Dirty Dozen."
Major John Reisman (Lee Marvin) is recruited to take 12 convicted army criminals ranging from Joseph Wladislaw (Charles Bronson), Robert Jefferson (Jim Brown), and even Vernon Pinkley (Donald Sutherland). Major Reisman has his hands full and must teach them to work as a team. After readying his men as much as possible in a short amount of time, they run through a series of war games as they prepare to take on their mission to kill some high ranking Nazi officers. If they succeed and come out alive, they will be free and cleared of their crimes.
Lee Marvin does an outstanding job as Major Reisman...he really brings the character to life. With an incredible supporting cast, Marvin uses his leading skills to push the 12 military men to their limit. Charles Bronson pushes himself as an actor and takes Wladislaw to the next level. John Cassavetes, who is often mentioned as one of the NFL's greatest players ever, plays an outstanding role as Jim Brown, the only African American in the film.
Director Robert Aldrich really does an incredible job with "The Dirty Dozen." He was so determined to tell us that war is hell that he actually lost an Academy Award nod. There is a grenade scene in which Major Reisman instructs Brown to set off a bunch of grenades that will kill quite a few innocent women who are with a group of the German officers. Aldrich would have nothing to do with cutting it out and left it in to establish the feeling that Reisman's men came to complete their mission no matter what it takes. Ultimately for Aldrich, it meant losing the Academy Award nod.
"The Dirty Dozen" brings us into battle with these convicts and makes us remember that war is not just a game the military plays at. War is hell, and many lives are lost...not just soldiers, but innocent women and children too. "The Dirty Dozen" captures not only these moments, but also the idea of getting a second chance in life.
"The Dirty Dozen" has a very nice transfer. With the age of the film, "The Dirty Dozen" has a nice fresh look. There are at times some definite trouble spots with a presence of noise throughout, which was to be expected. Also, at times, it seems as if the focus might be off, but that could be because "The Dirty Dozen" is fairly soft throughout the movie. Even with its few troubles, "The Dirty Dozen" is has a very nice transfer...on to the good stuff.
Throughout the movie the blacks are very nice and deep without losing detail. The skin tones are very refreshing and are true to life. The detail is good, the colors feel nice but not overpowering. Even with the age of the film, "The Dirty Dozen" is treated very nicely with a really good transfer that is easy to the eyes, and looks great!
We get a nice 5.1 Dolby Digital track that actually sounds really nice. Although the dialogue is a little weak at times, "The Dirty Dozen" has some great sound. The surrounds fill the room nicely but unfortunately the explosions need some work. Also, with a great supporting soundtrack, "The Dirty Dozen" does a good job bringing us into the action.
The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission: Here we get the made-for-TV sequel to "The Dirty Dozen." The rundown is the same...12 new prisoners with new stories, a new mission, mixed with the same ideas of the last one, but lacking heart. Only worth a look if you are a diehard fan of "The Dirty Dozen" and want to see Lee Marvin again.
Commentary with: Jim Brown, Trini Lopez, Stuart Cooper & Colin Maitland, also producer Kenneth Hyman & Author E.M Nathanson, historian David J. Skal & veteran Captain Dale Dye: This is actually a very nice commentary track. Although it skips quite a bit, which can be expected when you have so many people trying to all put in their ideas. I really enjoyed the fact that everyone had something to say, and we really get to dive into each one of their worlds, and hear how they give props to Lee Marvin. Also, when Captain Dale Dye speaks, it seems that most of the time he is just telling us about everything that is wrong, and the military wouldn't do it that way. In the end, a very nice and informative commentary track.
Armed & Deadly: The Making of the Dirty Dozen: Here we get lots of cast and crew, and other familiars from the commentary track. We are informed about the history of war films and how this one differs and changes the tone of previous war films. We also learn everything from directing, the actors and their personalities, casting choices, shooting, and even the loss of the Academy Award nod.
Operation Dirty Dozen: This is a quick feature with vintage behind the scenes footage from "The Dirty Dozen." Because of its shortness there is no reason not to watch this one.
The Filthy Thirteen: Real Stores: "The Dirty Dozen" was loosely based on the real life story of Jake McNiece who was part of the 506th Airborne division. Here in this feature we get the interview of Jake McNiece as he describes his missions. Definitely worth a look, although long, it is well worth listening to McNiece as he describes what he went through in great detail.
Marine Corps: Combat Leadership Skills: This feature is hosted by Lee Marvin and is really a military "training" film that was used as a promotional piece for "The Dirty Dozen."
"The Dirty Dozen" is a great movie. Lee Marvin and his supporting cast do a wonderful job of pulling us in and believing in a bunch of convicts. With a good video transfer and a nice audio transfer, "The Dirty Dozen" has a slew of special features, which help round the disc out very nicely and make for an easy Recommend on this one.