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As far as World War II action movies go, there are few better than THE DIRTY DOZEN ($25). In THE DIRTY DOZEN, Lee Marvin portrays Major John Reisman, an unconventional officer with little respect for the military bureaucracy that keeps him from fighting the war his way. Since his superior officers don’t know what else to do with Major Reisman, he is given the worst duty possible- whip a group of condemned military prisoners into shape and take them on a suicide mission behind enemy lines. Reisman is able to scrape up twelve volunteers by dangling a carrot in front of them- a chance of a pardon should they survive the mission.

Every man is a complete misfit, and unless Reisman finds a way to turn twelve anti-social psychopaths into a trained fighting team, the mission is a guaranteed failure. Lee Marvin is great as the tough as nails Reisman, delivering a riveting and darkly humorous performance. Ernest Borgnine shines as General Worden, as do John Cassavetes as trouble making Victor Franko and Telly Savalas as the deranged Archer Maggott. The cast of THE DIRTY DOZEN also features Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Richard Jaeckel, George Kennedy, Trini López, Ralph Meeker, Robert Ryan, Donald Sutherland, Clint Walker and Robert Webber. Director Robert Aldrich effectively stages the films action sequences with gritty realistic detail, thus making THE DIRTY DOZEN one of the most violent films of the 1960s.

MGM Home Entertainment offers THE DIRTY DOZEN only in a wide screen presentation. The DVD deploys dual layered technology to accommodate the film’s extended running time without interruption. The Letterboxed transfer appears to be the same as the one issued on Laserdisc several years ago and does not show off the capabilities of the DVD format. There is no anamorphic enhancement and the image isn’t as crisp or detailed as it might have been with a new transfer. Color reproduction is limited by the film elements used for the transfer. Additionally, the film elements do have a number of blemishes that became noticeable throughout the film. Digital compression artifacts were not a problem on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack claims to offer a matrixed Dolby Surround track, however after decoding the track, I found that the musical score was the only element to have any real sense of presence. Other soundtrack options include a French language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus offer access to a "making of" featurette, a theatrical trailer and production notes.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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