Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Dirty Dozen (1967)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

In this popular action-war film, the ultimate WWII 'guy's' movie, from director Robert Aldrich:

  • the premise: select a dozen anti-social, convicted, death-row murderers for a behind-the-lines assault ("Operation Amnesty"); the "Dirty Dozen" were led by commander Major John Reisman (Lee Marvin)
  • the personalities of the selected group, interviewed by Major Reisman in their military prison cells, including

    - Archer Maggott (Telly Savalas), a religious madman
    - Vernon Pinckley (Donald Sutherland), dim-witted
    - Robert Jefferson (Jim Brown - football star), African-American
    - Victor Franko (John Cassavetes), rebellious and outspoken
    - Joseph T. Wladsilaw (Charles Bronson), a stoic Pole
  • during training, an act of insubordination: the boycott- refusal of Franko - and then everyone else, to shave in cold water; Major Reisman ruled on their decision: "So you want to stink, huh? And maybe itch too? Well, that's okay with me because I don't have to smell ya. All right, Sergeant, there will be no further issue of shaving equipment or the use of soap. And there will be no more hot meals. Just K rations. Courtesy of Mr. Franko. At ease" - they would soon acquire their nickname: The Dirty Dozen
  • the scene of Pinkley, under Reisman's orders, posing as a general and inspecting Colonel Breed's (Robert Ryan) troops at a parachute training school; afterwards, superior officer Breed threatened to run Reisman out of the Army and called him "a disorganized, undisciplined clown"; Reisman responded with an insult of his own: "I owe you an apology. I always thought that you were a cold, unimaginative, tight-lipped officer. But you're really quite emotional, aren't you?"
  • the sequence during practice maneuvers, when Reisman infiltrated the camp as Colonel Breed came to inspect his men; he used machine-gun fire to subdue Breed's paratroopers, who were then disarmed and forced to surrender
  • the scene of Major Reisman's complaint when the men, after intense training, were threatened with being returned to their prisons, after he broke an Army regulation by rewarding the men with a hooker party: "You offered those men a chance to get off the hook, and they worked damn hard at it. Now that they're just shaping up, you're gonna say, 'Sorry fellas, the deal's off?' huh?" - he took the blame for the error in judgment: "All right, so I broke an Army regulation. What are you gonna do? Kill five men and send the rest to prison for life? Because if you did that, you'd have to lock up half the United States Army, officers included. Anyway, you just said it yourself, it was my fault, not theirs. And it's not gonna affect their ability as soldiers....Look, my men have crammed six months of intensive training into as many weeks. And as of this moment, I'd stack them up against any men in the Army...Look, they might not be pretty, but any one of mine is worth 10 of yours"
  • the memorized "Operation Amnesty" attack plan composed of 16 separate steps, spoken in a rhyming chant: "One: down to the road block, we've just begun; Two: the guards are through; Three: the Major's men are on a spree; Four: Major and Wladislaw go through the door; Five: Pinkley stays out in the drive; Six: the Major gives the rope a fix; Seven: Wladislaw throws the hook to heaven; Eight: Jiménez has got a date; Nine: the other guys go up the line; Ten: Sawyer and Gilpen are in the pen; Eleven: Posey guards points Five and Seven; Twelve: Wladislaw and the Major go down to delve; Thirteen: Franko goes up without being seen; Fourteen: Zero-hour, Jiménez cuts the cable, Franko cuts the phone; Fifteen: Franko goes in where the others have been; Sixteen: we all come out like it's Halloween."
  • their suicide mission to go behind Nazi enemy lines to destroy a Nazi-filled French chateau near Rennes in Brittany, filled with high-ranking German officers
  • the botched plan, when Maggott on the second floor of the chateau ordered one of the officers' mistresses/wives to scream, then stabbed her and wildly started firing
  • the sequence of Jefferson's courageous sprint after throwing grenades down into an underground bunker where the alerted Germans had fled, but he was gunned down before reaching the stolen half-track
  • the aftermath of the mission - only one of the 'Dirty Dozen' survived -- Wladislaw

Major Reisman: "I don't have to smell ya"

Major Reisman's Conflict with Colonel Breed (Robert Ryan)

Dirty Dozen Line-Up

Reisman Infiltrating His Own Camp

Major Reisman's Lecture

Maggott's Confrontation with Mistress

Jefferson's Sprint

French Chateau Explosions


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z