Kelly's Heroes (1970) / War-Comedy
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 today for violence and language
Running Time: 144 min.
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland
Director: Brian G. Hutton
Screenplay: Troy Kennedy-Martin
Review published March 20, 1998
Long before Three Kings there was this early 70s war-comedy gem called Kelly's Heroes, with a terrific cast and funny situations. Set during WWII, this tells the tale of a small group of Americans who learn of a cache of $16 million worth of gold bars 30 miles behind Nazi lines. Kelly (Eastwood, Coogan's Bluff), a private with lots of leadership ability, brings the group together and both inspire and conspires the men into the elaborate "rescue mission" to get the gold without getting caught or killed.
With a winner of a cast, it's not too difficult to make a watchable flick, provided there's some halfway decent directing and writing. Luckily, both of those are solid, and it makes for quite an entertaining and funny war movie. Eastwood, Savalas (Mackenna's Gold) , Rickles (Casino), Sutherland (Kentucky Fried Movie) and Carroll O'Connor (Return to Me) are perfectly cast, and there appeared to be no expense spared with some of the most destructive explosions and battles to ever be filmed, even by today's standards.
The film does take some extreme liberties with realism, but those detours also provide the best scenes, including Sutherland's anachronistic hippie and a play on Eastwood's spaghetti western past. Perhaps it's a bit on the long side, but with a movie as fun as Kelly's Heroes, one really doesn't mind taking the scenic route. Not a bad one to dig out in the video store.
©1998 Vince Leo