i have noticed…

that a growing number of my posts tend to have a certain air of remonstration about them, which might lead people to believe that i’m a cranky or otherwise unpleasant person.

while this may be true (and, indeed, in keeping with much of the intarwebs), it’s not necessarily the impression i’d like to give.

so, in the shadow of yesterday’s whining about book sizing, i’d like to introduce a new post category:

Things I Actually Like

these could be books, music, movies, people, whatever. i’m going to try and avoid comic books and comic book related subjects, because i talk about them quite a bit already.

and we don’t want people to think that i’m a geek, do we?

so, for the inaugural post, i’d like to talk about:

Kelly’s Heroes


Kelly’s Heroes is a war movie – possibly my favourite war movie that doesn’t have the word “Star” somewhere in the title. but more importantly, it’s a funny war movie.

released two months after the classic M*A*S*H, it’s another movie in the same vein, pointing up the farcical nature of conflict. yet unlike M*A*S*H, it’s not a dark comedy – the men and women of the 4077th are in a far more realistic film, using comedy to deal with the horrors of war.

both of these films were reactions to the war in Vietnam; disaffection with war had primed the American public for a new type of war movie, divorced from the square-jawed heroes of earlier films. there’s no John Wayne as in Sands of Iwo Jima, no Gregory Peck like in The Guns of Navarone, no Steve McQueen from Where Eagles Dare.

instead, in Kelly’s Heroes, we get Private Kelly (portrayed by Clint Eastwood). Kelly is disillusioned and disaffected with his “superiors,” and when the chance comes to steal $16 million in German gold, he seizes it with both hands.

and this is where it turns into a caper flick.

like Danny Ocean’s crew in the 1960 movie Ocean’s Eleven, Kelly and his men are into it for the money, pure and simple. there’s no lofty principles involved in their reasoning, only greed.

i could talk here about the plot, or the cinematography, or curious facts about the movie (Brian G. Hutton, the director, had just directed Where Eagles Dare – a much more traditional war film – which also starred Eastwood).

but what my enjoyment really comes down to is a series of set pieces where the renegade platoon charges through Nazi-held France to get to the bank where the gold is held, interspersed with cuts to the baffled (yet gung-ho) reactions of their commanding general. it is a war movie, and characters do die, but it’s mostly a string of one hilarious situation after another, masterfully played by the all-star ensemble cast.

i’m always amazed when someone tells me they’ve never seen Kelly’s Heroes – to have “missed” a film starring the aforementioned Eastwood, with performances by Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connor and Donald Sutherland is mind-boggling to me.

it probably doesn’t help that the film runs almost 2 1/2 hours; television broadcasters really doesn’t like programming blocks larger than two hours. that, and the rhythm of the piece would probably be badly compromised by the need for commercial breaks.

but if you haven’t seen it, and you like comedy or war films, you should. it’s worth every minute.

quote of the day:

“Well we’re all nuts, or we wouldn’t be here!” – Pvt. Jonesey


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