Kelly's Heroes (1970)

Genres - Comedy, War  |   Sub-Genres - Military Comedy, War Adventure, Anti-War Film  |   Run Time - 143 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Keith Phipps

A strange, memorable, but far from wholly successful mix of black comedy, action, and anti-war commentary, Kelly's Heroes feels nearly as disjointed as its from-all-corners cast would suggest. Director Brian G. Hutton displays a flair for tightly orchestrated action sequences, but elsewhere shows little skill for narrative economy, allowing his story to drag on and on. If this doesn't always help the film, the cast finds ways of turning it into a virtue. Eastwood allows his character to be so cryptic that he threatens to fade into the background, but given plenty of space within which to assert themselves, Don Rickles, Telly Savalas, and Donald Sutherland all turn in memorable performances. Unfortunately they all seem to come from different movies, if not different decades. Sutherland behaves so much like a hippie that his character becomes a huge distraction after a while, a further suggestion that Hutton couldn't quite decide what sort of movie to make. After dwelling with great seriousness on the deaths of two grunts in one scene, he throws in an out-of-nowhere parody of Eastwood's spaghetti Westerns. Still, it's never boring, as if any film with such a puzzling, once-in-a-lifetime cast could be.