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KELLY'S HEROES ($25) has always been amongst my personal favorites of Clint Eastwood’s movies. Of course, this isn’t because I think KELLY'S HEROES is a great movie. I really like KELLY'S HEROES for the simple fact that the movie is a whole lot of fun. Those who have never seen KELLY'S HEROES, probably think that the movie is a gritty W.W.II drama. However, the Second World War is incidental to the plot of KELLY'S HEROES. In fact, KELLY'S HEROES is really a caper movie with comedic overtones, which just happens to be set during the war.

In KELLY'S HEROES Clint Eastwood portrays Kelly, the American soldier who stumbles on a fortune. While interrogating a captured German officer, Kelly learns about the existence of 16 million dollars worth of gold bars being held by the Nazis in a bank 30 miles behind enemy lines. Of course, there is no way in the world Kelly is going to pass up the opportunity to grab a piece of the Nazi gold, so he devises a plan to literally knock over the bank with the aid of some Sherman tanks. KELLY'S HEROES also stars Telly Savalas as Big Joe, the Sergeant who needs his arm twisted to get involved with Kelly’s insane plan. Don Rickles generates a few laughs as Crapgame, the wheeler-dealer who helps Kelly get his unofficial "military" operation off the ground. Donald Sutherland practically steals the movie as Oddball, the closest thing to a hippie that one is likely to find in a W.W.II movie. Sutherland’s spaced out character is a laugh riot, especially when he keeps complaining to Gavin MacLeod’s character Moriarty about the "negative waves" he sends out. Look for Carroll O'Connor as the clueless, but gung-ho General Colt, who also gets his share of laughs. The cast of KELLY'S HEROES also features Hal Buckley, Stuart Margolin, Jeff Morris, Richard Davalos, Perry Lopez, Tom Troupe, Harry Dean Stanton, Dick Balduzzi, Gene Collins, Len Lesser and David Hurst.

Warner Home Video has done an absolutely fantastic job with their DVD edition of KELLY'S HEROES. While the packaging omits this important bit of information, the wide screen presentation of KELLY'S HEROES does indeed include the anamorphic enhancement for playback on 16:9 displays. KELLY'S HEROES is properly framed at 2.35:1 and the presentation is absolutely glorious. In fact, I don’t think that this movie has ever looked better, except maybe on the first day of its original theatrical run. The image is wonderfully sharp and delivers a superb level of detail. Colors are quite vivid and the flesh tones always look appealing. Even the most intense hues are reproduced with no sign chromatic distortion. Blacks are very accurate and the image delivers surprisingly excellent level of shadow detail. The film element used to transfer this 1970 production is in very good shape, and rarely displays any signs of age. There are moments when film grain is noticeable during the movie, although it never becomes bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are well disguised by solid authoring that takes advantage of dual layer technology. KELLY'S HEROES features a brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix that really enhances the experience of seeing the film in one’s own home theater. Sure, there are some limitations in the frequency range of the thirty-year-old recordings, but for the most part the mix is enjoyable. Lalo Schifrin’s musical score reaps the largest benefits from the re-mix, although the other sound elements are also well served. Directional sound effects do not have the sweep that one associates with brand new movies, but the battle scenes do produce some fine moments. Dialogue is clean, fully intelligible and firmly locked into the center channel. Explosions seem to be somewhat enhanced in the new mix and they do make use of the bass channel. However, anyone expecting gut-wrenching bass from this track will be disappointed. A French monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles. The interactive menus include music, but are otherwise basic in their implementation. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

KELLY'S HEROES is a fun movie that has been given an excellent presentation on DVD by Warner Home Video. Eastwood fans should not hesitate in picking up this DVD, nor should anyone else looking for a good time. Recommended.


Kelly's Heroes



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 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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