The 52-Movie Challenge
Week 02: January 8-14
Week 02 was a bit distracting. So distracting that I’m writing about it for week 03. Not my best work, I have to admit. But I’ve been thinking about life and where its leading. Being in your 30’s does that. You’re not old. You’re not young. Its this whole life analyzing mess. Thank goodness for movies, right?
Week 02 was The Dirty Dozen. Why was this movie on my list? For the simple reason that my dad owned it and I had never watched it. It was made in 1967, and it had been a good long while since I’d seen an older movie. Especially since a lot of movies had apparently copied off The Dirty Dozen‘s answer sheet.
And after watching The Dirty Dozen, I can see how influential it was, to a lot of movies since. Inglorious Basterds comes to mind immediately. Bad News Bears. Guardians of the Galaxy. Suicide Squad. Really, any movie where a bunch of misfits needs to work together to accomplish a goal. I did like the movie, but I couldn’t get over the simple fact that I have no idea who half of the dozen are, even after watching the whole movie.
We’ve got the leader Lee Marvin, we got Charles Bronson, we got John Cassavetes and Telly Savalas. Jim Brown. We got Keifer’s dad. But after them? Its a complete blur.
The movie is 2 and a half hours, and we spend a lot of time with the group. Now to be fair, there are over 13 characters in this flick, so its hard to flesh everyone out. I suppose my main problem was that it just felt at one point the writer and the director kind of gave up. They knew who they wanted to focus on, and the others were just going to turn into “…and the rest.”
Okay, now the good stuff is that this movie deals with some truly grey moral areas. Stuff I was surprised they would look at as closely as they did. The setting is during World War II, but the movie was made close to the end of the Vietnam War. You can really see the artistic juxtaposition in The Dirty Dozen. World War 2 is probably the only clear cut “Good vs Evil” war that America has ever been involved with, but you wouldn’t know that if The Dirty Dozen was the only version you saw. The main characters are condemned men, and one of them is an actual psychopath. Lee Marvin’s character is war hero, but one who mouths off just a little too much to the top brass, and it gets him assigned to what is essentially a suicide mission. I did not expect this very dour, yet entertaining approach.
Even after this very grim look at the lives of these men during war time, the path of redemption lies in killing Nazis. After all, a disgraced prisoner can still be better than the worst people on the planet.
Next up, Howl’s Moving Castle! I’ve heard nothing but good about this Japanese animated classic, so I can’t wait.