Movies Are Boring—‘The Dirty Dozen’
War is Hell, especially for criminals
Welcome to the first installment of “Movies are Boring,” wherein War is Boring’s Kevin Knodell and Matthew Gault discuss how film portrays war and the military.
Today, we’re taking on director Robert Aldrich’s 1967 classic The Dirty Dozen.
Starring Lee Marvin, The Dirty Dozen is about a motley team of criminals and degenerates that the War Department sends on a critical operation during World War II’s Operation Overlord—a.k.a., the invasion of Nazi-held France.
The film is historically inaccurate, but it’s also entertaining as Hell. Without the The Dirty Dozen there could not have been an Inglorious Basterds.
The outlandish premise—criminals as Army special forces—drew scoffs from critics of the time. The movie’s violence also revolted many.
But by making criminals the good guys, The Dirty Dozen framed war in a way few Hollywood films dared even during the ’60s—as a brutal, unglamorous undertaking.
It’s a subversive movie. One that paved the way for a grittier and frankly better brand of war film. After all, war is a dirty business.