Kelly's Heroes is a 1970 war comedy film directed by Brian G. Hutton, about a group of World War II soldiers who go AWOL to rob a bank behind enemy lines. The film stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O'Connor, and Donald Sutherland, with secondary roles played by Harry Dean Stanton, Gavin MacLeod, and Stuart Margolin. The screenplay was written by British film and television writer Troy Kennedy Martin. The film was a US-Yugoslav co-production, filmed mainly in the Croat village of Vižinada on the Istria peninsula.
Plot[edit | edit source]
In World War II France in early September 1944, units of the 35th Infantry Division are nearing the town of Nancy when one of the division's mechanized reconnaissance platoons receives orders to pull out while under attack from the Germans. Kelly (Eastwood), a former lieutenant who has been demoted to private following a disastrous assault some time earlier, capturesColonel Dankhopf of German Intelligence. When Kelly notices that his prisoner has a gold bar in his briefcase, he gets him drunk to try to get information about the gold. Before he is killed by an attacking German Tiger tank, the drunken Dankhopf blurts out that there is a cache of 14,000 gold bars stored in a bank vault 30 miles behind enemy lines in the town of Clermont.
Kelly recruits the rest of his platoon, including skeptical Master Sergeant "Big Joe" (Savalas), to sneak off and steal the gold. Eventually, others have to be recruited (or invite themselves) into the scheme, such as an opportunistic supply sergeant "Crapgame" (Rickles); and a Sherman tank commander, "Oddball" (Sutherland).
The expedition successfully breaks through a German-held town during a mortar barrage that has been arranged by Kelly. An American fighter plane mistakes Kelly's group for the enemy, strafing their vehicles and destroying them with rockets, forcing them to continue on foot, and three of their number die in a subsequent skirmish in and around a minefield. Meanwhile, Oddball's tanks battle their way through the German lines, but their route is blocked when the last large bridge is blown up by Allied bombers, prompting Oddball to let a bridge engineering unit in on the deal. When intercepted radio messages of the private raid are brought to the attention of gung-ho American Major General Colt (O'Connor), he misinterprets them as the efforts of aggressive patriots pushing forward on their own initiative and immediately rushes to the front line to exploit the "breakthrough".
Kelly's men race to reach Clermont before their own army. There, they find it defended by three Tiger tanks with infantry support. The Americans are able to dispatch two of the Tigers and most of the German infantry, but as they prepare to take on the last tank, which is parked right in front of the bank, Oddball's last Sherman breaks down and cannot be repaired. Powerless to defeat the tank, Kelly offers the German tank commander a share of the loot. After the Tiger blows the bank doors off, the assembled crew finds the gold cache. After dividing the gold, the men go their separate ways, just managing to avoid meeting the still-oblivious Colt, who is delayed by celebrating town residents.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Clint Eastwood as Private Kelly, the platoon's de facto leader
- Telly Savalas as Master Sergeant "Big Joe", the platoon's de jure leader
- Don Rickles as Staff Sergeant "Crapgame"/"Hustler", the supply sergeant
- Carroll O'Connor as Major General Colt, the division commander
- Donald Sutherland as Sergeant "Oddball", leader of three Sherman tanks from the 321st.
- Gavin MacLeod as Moriarty, Oddball's bow machine-gunner and mechanic
- Stuart Margolin as Private "Little Joe"
- Jeff Morris as Private "Cowboy"
- Hal Buckley as Capt. Maitland
- Dick Balduzzi as Private Fisher
- Richard Davalos as Private Gutowski, the team's sniper
- Gene Collins as Private "Barbara" Babra
- Perry Lopez as Private Petuko
- Tom Troupe as Corporal Job, a close friend of Big Joe's
- Harry Dean Stanton as Private Willard
- Len Lesser as Sergeant Bellamy of the 42nd Engineers Bridging Unit.
- David Hurst as Colonel Dunkhopf, a German intelligence officer
- George Savalas as First Sergeant Mulligan, mortar section commander
- Karl-Otto Alberty as Waffen-SS Tiger tank no. 115 commander
- Ross Elliott as Major Booker