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File:300px-Dirty dozen poster 470.jpg
"I reckon the folks'd be a sight happier if I died like a soldier. Can't say I would."
Samson Posey

Before the Basterds, and before The Expendables, there were the Dozen.

The Dirty Dozen was released in 1967, and starred, among many others, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, and Donald Sutherland. Set in 1944, it follows the tale of Major Reisman, a rebel in a uniform. He's given the task by his superiors to take twelve enlisted men convicted of capital offenses, and train them for an important mission. Their mission, whether they choose to accept it or not, is to parachute behind enemy lines and infiltrate a mountain retreat for senior Wehrmacht officers on the eve of D-Day. There, they will kill those present, even if the act of doing so costs them their lives.

Three sequels were made in the eighties.

Definitely cannot be confused with The Dozens, which are essentially Your Mom jokes.


This work features examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Jim Brown, an absurdly good, multiple record setting NFL Running back, has a scene where he outruns explosions in an extended take. Clearly, the guy's pretty good at running.
  • Anti-Hero: Major Reissman, Jefforson and Wladislaw are Type III, Posey's a Type I, and the rest of the Dozen sit between IV and V, with Maggot and Franco being at the far dark end of the scale.
  • Anyone Can Die: And sadly, most of them do. Only Reismann, Wladislaw and Sgt. Bowren survive the assault.
  • Ax Crazy: Maggot. He kills a woman in the chateau and then fires at his own teammates, alerting the Germans to what's going on and basically fucking up the plan royally and forcing the team to improvise after they kill him.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The bad guys are clearly Those Wacky Nazis. But the Dirty Dozen are mostly made up of sociopaths like Maggot and Franko, and what they do when they assault the chateau by killing everyone, Wermacht officer and prostitute alike doesn't make them any better than the Nazis. Worse, the Allied officers who planned and signed off on the mission are so gleeful about the mission's success that Wladislaw's open desire at movie's end to kill himself some more Generals sounds justifiable.
  • Berserk Button: Don't push Posey.
  • Boxed Crook
  • Combat Pragmatist: See Dressing as the Enemy below.
  • Cunning Linguist: One of the reasons that Joeseph Wladislaw (Charles Bronson) was picked for the squad was that he was fluent in German.
    • Well, more for knowing any German. He couldn't understand a word of what a couple soldiers had said, so it's clear Wladislaw isn't fluent. He did know at least enough to get by, though.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: "Everbody's slipping on the soap..."
  • Dirty Coward: Franko. Justified in that he's smart enough to know the Dozen are getting sent on a Suicide Mission, and he doesn't want to die for nobody.
  • Dressing as the Enemy
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Although this one is a major (Reisman). The drill sergeant under his command -- Bowren -- is more Reisman's aide de camp to be nasty enough.
  • During the War
  • Gentle Giant: For a guy on death row for punching a man's jaw through his brain, Posey is surprisingly nice.
  • Got Volunteered
  • Heroic Sociopath: Franco. Actually, all of them.
    • Except for Maggot who's just a sociopath.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Nearly every Dirty Dozen guy plays Badass heroes throughout the Sixties and Seventies.
    • You got Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy and Robert Ryan too.
  • Holier Than Thou: Maggot tries to justify his murder and alleged rape of women through his special interpretation of Holy Scripture. He's still the most evil character in the entire movie. And in a movie of Nazis vs. criminals, that's really saying something.
  • Incessant Chorus: The brass band in the inspection scene, who happily burst into their piece whenever the impatient colonel comes out of his office, to his increasing annoyance.
  • Karma Houdini: Colonel Breed bullied his way onto a restricted military base he was not authorized to be in, in an effort to coerce members of a team training for a classified operation he was not cleared for to disclose their mission. This makes him a security risk at best and a spy at worst. By rights his actions at the camp would have had him sitting out the war games the following week in the brig awaiting an interrogation by intelligence and possibly a court-martial. Instead, he is still in command of his unit, which is holding an important post in the war games, without any evidence that he was punished for his actions at all.
    • It's implied - especially given the treatment they give Reisman - that the upper chain of command is corrupt, self-serving, or elitist. There's a good reason why Wladislaw's wish to kill more Generals seems appealing...
  • Kill'Em All: Of the original Dozen, only Wladislaw survives to get his pardon.
  • Last Supper Steal: Early on the team gets a scene greatly resembling Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper', with Maggot sitting in the same position as Judas.
  • Locked in a Freezer: When Reissman's men start their attack, the Nazi officers and civilians retreat to a basement bomb shelter. Too bad for them that the Americans dump gasoline and dozens of grenades down the air vents, the outer gates don't unlock from the inside, and there's a whopping great stockpile of ammonium picrate down there as well.
  • Loophole Abuse: The dozen "cheat" at a war game by switching their armbands to the enemy side's.
  • Majorly Awesome: Reisman.
  • Military Maverick: Reisman
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: When Colonel Breed tries to dry shave one of the Dozen.
  • Model Planning: The plan is largely with a model (and a Mickey Mouse figure).
  • N-Word Privileges: Maggot tries dropping the N-Word and Jefferson makes sure Maggot learns he doesn't have the privilege to do so.
  • The Notable Numeral
  • Parachute in a Tree: Jiminez breaks his neck this way during a drop in France.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Maggot was on Death Row for raping and killing women. Once the Dirty Dozen assault the chateau, Maggot sabotages the entire mission when he kills a prostitute and fires on his teammates when they try to stop him.
    • In a possible subversion, Maggot flat out denied that he had raped any of the women that he had killed, despite being convicted for it (Note that he didn't deny killing them).
  • Rated "M" for Manly
  • Retirony: One of the guards manning the checkpoint outside the chateau mentions that he's going on leave in another week or so. He and the person he's talking to are the first people to die.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: The Nazi chateau.
  • Sexophone: Heard when Reisman has a truckload of London hookers brought to the camp for the Dozen.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Maggot
  • Southern-Fried Private: Pinkley
  • Suicide Mission
  • Tempting Fate: Franko. As the remaining Dozen are getting away, he starts crowing that he's gonna survive after all... just as a German soldier crawls out of the woodwork and opens fire on the truck, killing him.
  • Title Drop: The prisoner-soldiers refuse to shave with cold water, so Major Reissman orders the MPs to stop issuing shaving kit and soap. One of the MPs says, "So now if you... you Dirty Dozen have no objections, we will get our equipment, and we will start in right now."
  • Token Evil Teammate: Maggot
  • Token Good Teammate: Wladislaw
    • Jefferson and Posey are relatively Good Guys as well.
      • Most of the rest really aren't that bad either. Of the death row inmates, only Franko and Maggot genuinely deserve to be hung.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee
  • War Is Hell
  • What Could Have Been: At one point, John Wayne strongly considered taking the role of Major Reisman.
  • World War II
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