The dirty dozen

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German title The dirty dozen
Original title The Dirty Dozen
Country of production United States , Great Britain
original language English
Publishing year 1967
length 143 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Robert Aldrich
script Nunnally Johnson
Lukas Heller
production Raymont Anzarut
Kenneth Hyman for MGM
music Frank De Vol
camera Edward Scaife
cut Michael Luciano

Successor  →
The Dirty Dozen 2

The Dirty Dozen is an American war film from 1967, directed by Robert Aldrich based on the novel of the same name by EM Nathanson (published 1965 by Random House , New York ; German edition 1967 by Knaur ).


England, March 1944: American Major Reisman is badly respected by his superiors for his unconventional methods. Nevertheless, the officer was given the task of training a probation battalion to attack a castle behind enemy lines where German Wehrmacht officers were staying to relax. The dangerous mission should carry twelve American military personnel who are imprisoned for serious crimes in an American military prison in England and to death or to long terms of imprisonment were convicted. In return, they are promised mitigation of sentences.

Reisman recruits his twelve people who are initially unwilling to submit to military discipline any longer. But the major, a tough grinder, quickly makes it clear to the men that they cannot afford any irregularities. In a training camp, the commando is being prepared for the mission with the help of the military policeman Sergeant Bowren. At first the men still resist, and especially the soldier Franko, who has been sentenced to death, makes life difficult for Reisman time and time again. After he complained about cold water for shaving, all men had their shaving and washing equipment removed, which is why they are known as the title-giving "dirty dozen".

The hard drill gradually welds the men, who until then were all selfish individualists, together into a conspiratorial group. Before the commando left for his special assignment, Reisman smuggled a group of prostitutes into the training camp to give his men a nice evening, and at a military reception they finally made fun of Colonel Breed, Reisman's intimate enemy. This turns some officers and generals against Reisman. So that the men do not have to go back to prison to serve their sentences, they are supposed to prove themselves in a maneuver and capture Breed's staff there, and the dozen manage this endeavor through a tricky manner.

The special command, including the instructors Reisman and Bowren, jumped from behind enemy lines in France , and according to a precisely defined plan, the men infiltrated and surrounded the Wehrmacht castle. When the psychopathic misogynist Maggott goes nuts because of the women present in the castle, chaos breaks out. In the following fight almost all of the twelve men gradually die, but nevertheless the Wehrmacht officers and their companions, who were able to escape into an air raid shelter, are killed by blowing up the bunker. Reisman and Bowren narrowly escape. Of the “dirty dozen”, only Joseph Wladislaw survived, who was then taken back into the army as a full member.

Origin / information

  • The role of Major Reisman was supposed to be played by John Wayne . Since Wayne wasn't available, Lee Marvin took over the part.
  • The French castle was built especially as a backdrop for the film and is one of the largest film sets ever constructed. The backdrop was so solid that it couldn't be blown up as intended.
  • Of the main cast, five served in World War II: Marvin, Bronson, Borgnine, Savalas, and Clint Walker.
  • The film was shot at MGM British Studios in Borehamwood between April 25 and October 13, 1966 .

Success and importance in film history

The Dirty Dozen became one of the most successful films of 1967 and played in the US alone more than 45 million US dollars a. It is considered one of the most important war films , but it was also controversial because of its unusual severity. In the mid-1980s, several sequels were made for television that featured some of the cast from the original film.

The film title went down in everyday language as a well-known phrase. For example, the group of IBM engineers who developed the PC around 1980 is known as the Dirty Dozen . On June 1, 2003, Agenda 2010 was to be decided at the SPD party congress . The twelve party congress delegates who campaigned against the agenda were also described as a dirty dozen by less benevolent party friends .

The Dirty Dozen was one of the last films in which Charles Bronson played a supporting role. In 1981 he met Lee Marvin again in Yukon , but this time was at the top of the cast list. Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland also starred in the 1970 film Shock Troop Gold , which parodied films like The Dirty Dozen . In Sleepless in Seattle (1992) reference is made in a humorous way to the legendary "man's film" The Dirty Dozen .

In the original version of the film Small Soldiers , the soldiers of the Commando Elite are voiced by the actors from The Dirty Dozen .


"A perfectly staged, dark and brutal war thriller with impressive acting performances, which, however, only triggers shock through the demonstrative absence of moral and psychological deepening and evaluation."

“The lavishly and skilfully designed film is not without criticism of military views, but it remains questionable whether every viewer will see it. Therefore only for adults and not without restriction. "


The film won an Oscar for best sound effects. In addition, the sound, editing and John Cassavetes were nominated for best supporting actor. Cassavetes was also nominated for a Golden Globe . There are also awards from American Cinema Editors , Photoplay Awards (gold medal), Laurel Awards (victory for Marvin as an action actor, second place for Jim Brown as a supporting actor and third place for best action drama). Cassavetes came away empty-handed despite the nomination. Robert Aldrich also had to be content with a nomination from the Directors Guild of America .


The German DVD of the film was released in June 2004. It contains the German, English and Spanish language versions of Das dreckige Dutzend , subtitles in various languages, the original US film trailer and the making-of Operation Dirty Dozen (1967).

The special edition appeared in 2006 . This includes u. a. the making-of and, as a bonus, part 2 The Dirty Dozen - The Next Mission . In contrast to the first DVD release from 2004, the film is here in the original cinema format (1.85: 1).


The film was followed by three sequels, all of which were produced for television. Andrew V. McLaglen directed the second part . Parts three and four were shot by Lee H. Katzin . Some actors like Ernest Borgnine were in all of the films with their role. Lee Marvin only returned in the first installment. Telly Savalas starred in the last two parts.

In addition, in 1988 a television series called Dirty Dozen: The Series was produced. Due to low audience ratings, it was canceled after seven episodes broadcast.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The Dirty Dozen. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  2. Evangelical Press Association Munich, Review No. 489/1967.