Brian G. Hutton’s Kelly’s Heroes is an all-time favourite.
Its brilliance comes from an easy combination of seeming incompatible elements. At its core, Kelly’s Heroes is a sort of anti-war heist story that’s executed with same kind of anarchic panache as Altman’s M*A*S*H.
The film’s plot is pretty straightforward.
A platoon of hard-done-by soldiers learn of a secret cache of lightly guarded German gold worth $16 million. Unfortunately the gold is 30 miles behind enemy lines. Determining that’s better to die getting rich than for an uncaring and bureaucratic army, the platoon deserts and makes their play.
Gathering an unlikely group of allies (and always wary of diluting the loot), Kelly and Company have to overcome a whack of obstacles while outrunning the US drive into enemy territory that they accidentally trigger. The climax of the film will make every GM who’s had their boss fight thwarted smile with glee.
The film’s cast includes Clint Eastwood as the hard bitten Kelly and Telly Savalas as Big Joe, his cynical platoon leader. Clint and Telly, however, are only as good as the cast they work off of which includes:
Donald Sutherland as a the leader of a proto-hippie tank commune
Don Rickles as a self-serving supply officer
Carroll O’Conner as a vainglorious general
Harry Dean Stanton as a down home country private, which should make fans of David Lynch and Red Dawn alike happy.
The chemistry between Eastwood scowling tough guy and Sutherland’s zany hippie is particularly delightful.
Honestly, if you’re looking for an easy, breezy caper or war film, I suggest giving Kelly’s Heroes a chance. The cast and the soundtrack alone should keep you smiling throughout!