FILMS… Kelly’s Heroes (1970)


There’s gold behind them there enemy lines…


Private Kelly and a band of misfit American soldiers conduct a heist behind enemy lines.

KELLY’S HEROES Trailer, 43shen


So in this the return of the 2 Reel Quirky Cats we have Thoughts All Sorts choice war movie trailer for Kelly’s Heroes (1970). If you’ve missed our earlier posts on this war movie theme, click on the titles for links to our Guest post by the lovely Emma K Wall on Inglourious Basterds (2009) and my choice of war movie, Escape to Victory (1981).
Thoughts All Sorts chose this, a comedy, crime and adventure movie. Kelly’s Heroes takes place during World War II with actors only in the billed cast. Wikipedia stresses the only female part was cut in this film, so there is plenty of 1970s testosterone in this film headed by Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas.
And so I wasn’t surprised to learn George Kennedy was approached for the movie. The supporting cast also has Harry Dean Stanton, Don Rickles and Stuart Margolin. Now on with the show with more on this film, apparently based on a real-life heist.

About the plot…

The plot is set in September 1944, telling how Private Kelly (Clint Eastwood) spots some gold bars in a case owned by Colonel Dankhopf from the Wehrmacht Intelligence. After further questioning, he learns there are 14,000 gold bars worth 16 million dollars in a bank vault behind enemy lines. After Dankhopf is killed, Kelly decides to go after the gold. He then enlists a motley group of peers to help him.  
These include a sceptical Master Sergeant Big  Joe (Telly Savalas), a cunning Supply Sergeant named Crapgame (Don Rickles) providing supplies and guns and a misfit platoon commander known as Oddball (Donald Sutherland). Oddball provides three M4 Sherman tanks. However, Kelly’s plan to steal the gold does not go to plan with comic effects…  


About the trailer…

Kojak Big Joe (Savalas) runs from an explosion, hollering at Kelly. Kelly is the ringleader – and leading star – of this crime caper. Big Joe then asks Kelly (Eastwood) exactly what he’s doing, for his (and our) benefit. The revealing answer lays out the plot and the motivations of these men in this movie as Kelly says he is helping out a Colonel…

Big Joe asks Kelly to shoot the man.. with Kelly adding if he shoots him he won’t get the gold. Big Joe is – along with the rest of us – stopped in his tracks. So the gravelly-voiced and silver-tongued Kelly asks for help from his peers, with the help of some gold bars. This leads to some lovely twinkly, non-dramatic music as we see a golden glow on their faces. Needless to say, they react positively and you can almost see the dollar signs in their eyes as they caress the gold bars.

This act ensures the help of someone to set up a barrage and another named Crapgame (Rickles) to provide supplies.  Which personally would certainly sell this gig to me if I were a desperate, greedy man more than Eastwood presenting a pistol in my face with the aforementioned gravelly voice. Anyway. Then the big catch presents itself, the gold is behind enemy lines…

We then meet Oddball, a crazy character played by Donald Sutherland who tells us he has 3 Sherman Tanks. As you do. Oddball has a bunch of misfits who he introduces as his “boys”. Oddball and his crew watch a bridge collapse, leading to Oddball asking by telephone for a new bridge. As he does. In a New Jersey (correct me if I’m wrong) accent.  

Cue comic moments and Harry Dean Stanton (whose appearance in this cast totally sold it to me, and also convinced me this actor never ages).  Also explosions. Tanks. Oddball is oddball. More explosions. A wee split-screen – reminiscent of one too many obscure ones in Airport (also 1970) – reminding you of the characters (and acting talent). Guns. And the film title. In gold. Of course.

I’m now intrigued about the story behind the nicknames for the characters in this movie namely Big Joe, Crap game, Oddball, the Turk, Little Joe and the Cowboy. And after reading more about the cameo from the director of this movie who appears as a nun. Also for the wee in movie reference to another Eastwood movie the Western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966).  

So I’m looking out for this film for these and many other reasons as it’s definitely one on the to watch out for list now. And also for Kelly’s Heroes’ captivating cast, sparkling storyline and a glittering array of genres, it’s certainly worth its weight in gold. 


CLICK HERE to read Thoughts All Sorts review.



8 thoughts on “FILMS… Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

  1. Back when I was studying the art of comedy, I quickly became devotee of three people/acts:

    Groucho Marx (pure straight-up wit)
    The Three Stooges (timing – hitting somebody in the head with a hammer ins’t funny unless you do it at EXACTLY the right moment)
    Don Rickles (interacting with your audience)

    That’s why Rickles was so great in all his film roles; you always got the sense he knew how to be part of a cast.

    Liked by 1 person

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