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Kelly's Heroes


1970's KELLY'S HEROES is by an interesting comedy/adventure set in World War II with Clint Eastwood leading a band of misfits in a Nazi gold heist.

After a German officer spills plenty of secrets about a bank filled with gold bars to Eastwood over a bottle of brandy, he gathers an eclectic bunch to go behind enemy lines to steal it.

Telly Savalas is Big Joe, the most reluctant and loudest of the bunch. I haven't seen one actor yell this much in a movie since Ernest Borgnine in The Poseidon Adventure, but Savalas somehow pulls it off.

Don Rickles is terrific (in his biggest film role until "Casino" much later) as Crapshoot, the wheeler dealer of the platoon that can get anything from anyone. Rickles stays in character but manages to meld in a lot of his act in a funny performance.

Donald Sutherland seems to have wandered in from another film set in 1970 in a performance that has a lot more to do with being an anti-war statement than fitting into the times depicted in the film. His hippie character is very jarring in the WWII setting and seems completely out of place. That said, Sutherland is hilarious and no one does hippie soldier better than Sutherland, who had perfected the type earlier the same year in Robert Altman's M*A*S*H.

Carroll O'Connor (TV's Archie Bunker) is brilliant and nearly steals the film as a General in search of glory and look for Gavin McLeod (from TV's Love Boat and Mary Tyler Moore) as Moriarty, who is constantly disrupting Sgt Oddball (Sutherland's) good vibes.

Director Brian G. Hutton also was at the helm of Eastwood's "Where Eagles Dare" two years before this film and he knows how to craft a good war adventure.

Kelly's Heroes is never great, but it has a lot of fun along the way. Once the gold heist actually kicks in, so does the entertainment.

The film being at least 30 minutes too long and the horribly dated songs knock down our overall rating, but Eastwood and company steal a B- for their efforts.

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