Kelly's Heroes (1970) - Rotten Tomatoes

Kelly's Heroes1970

Kelly's Heroes (1970)




Critic Consensus: Kelly's Heroes subverts its World War II setting with pointed satirical commentary on modern military efforts, offering an entertaining hybrid of heist caper and battlefield action.

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Movie Info

Like M*A*S*H and Catch-22, both released the same year, this military comedy takes place in an earlier war but is really a thinly disguised treatise on the modern-day insanity and avariciousness then unfolding in Vietnam. Clint Eastwood stars as Kelly, a former lieutenant whose illusions about the glory of war, if he has any, are lost when he is busted in rank for following some poorly considered orders in World War II France. After capturing a friendly German officer, Kelly learns the whereabouts of millions of dollars in gold bars, earmarked to finance a military payroll. Taking advantage of a three-day liberty, Kelly assembles a motley trio of fellow soldiers to help him sneak behind enemy lines and retrieve the booty. They include Big Joe (Telly Savalas), a gruff sergeant; Crapgame (Don Rickles), a supply sergeant already enriching himself as a black marketer and con man; and the hippie-like tank commander Oddball (Donald Sutherland). Since crossing into enemy-held territory means heading in the opposite direction of the retreating Allies, Kelly and his men encounter armed resistance. Receiving word of their campaign, the vain General Colt (Carroll O'Connor) mistakes the quartet of freelancing scam artists for all-American heroes. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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Clint Eastwood
as Pvt. Kelly
Telly Savalas
as MSgt. Big Joe
Don Rickles
as SSgt. Crapgame
Donald Sutherland
as Sgt. Oddball (tank commander)
Gavin MacLeod
as Moriarty
Hal Buckley
as Maitland
Stuart Margolin
as Little Joe
Len Lesser
as Bellamy
David Hurst
as Col. Dankhopf
Fred Pearlman
as Mitchell
John G. Heller
as German Lieutenant
Karl Otto Alberty
as German Tank Commander
Hugo de Vernier
as French Mayor
Harry Goines
as Supply Sergeant
Boyd 'Red' Morgan
as American Lieutenant
Vincent Maracecchi
as Old Man in Town
Sandy Kevin
as Tank Commander
Frank J. Garlotta
as Tank Commander
Phil Adams
as Tank Commander
John Heller
as German Lieutenant
Harry Dean Stanton
as Pvt. Willard
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Critic Reviews for Kelly's Heroes

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (4)

An attempt to blend the war epic and the caper film that doesn't quite come off.

November 19, 2013 | Full Review…

The action is flashy and intermittent, deliberately wallowing in a mire of revisionist grot, churned up vistas of European mud. Time has made it more intuitive and caustic a film, than its daft reputation might suggest.

November 19, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Nearly satirical in its overall effect, plot caroms between cliche dogface antics, detailed and gratuitous violence, caper melodramatics, and outrageous anachronism.

October 18, 2008 | Full Review…

Interesting only in so far as it reveals Eastwood's nonchalant attitude to the blockbuster.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

The usually unemotive Eastwood is more engaged than usual, clearly having a whale of a time with a fruity support cast.

May 12, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Even with Eastwood in the title role, this poorly scripted film would surely have fallen apart under the weight of its own heavy handedness were it not for the presence of Donald Sutherland.

January 13, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Kelly's Heroes

A motley collection of American GIs hatch a scheme to steal $16 million in gold bullion from a bank behind the German lines. Very much a product of the wave of anti-Vietnam films of the time, Kelly's Heroes has more in common with the likes of Catch 22 and MASH (both released the same year) than your average gung ho WWII movie. Clint Eastwood at his prime heads up a brilliant cast of offbeat hustlers and crackpots including Telly Savalas as a hard nosed sergeant and the pick of them all, Donald Sutherland, as a hilariously anachronistic hippy tank commander who goes into battle bearing country & western and paint balls. The plot is a marriage of The Dirty Dozen and The Italian Job and is never afraid to chop and change genres; the war elements providing the action and pyrotechnics and the heist the quirky characters and comedy, all ending up in an amusing homage to Sergio Leone as Clint enters into a western showdown with a Tiger tank. It's a massive XY pleaser and as such its appeal may be lost on the female population but it was one of my favourites as a boy and has lost none of its appeal after all these years. Groovy, baby.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer


This military comedy about the hunt for millions of dollars in gold bars makes war look more like an adventure than an actual threat. Sure, people die and there is plenty of suspense, but the overall mood of the film is rather cheerful. That's mostly thanks to a motley cast, including tongue-tied Eastwood, grumpy Savalas and crazy Sutherland. Especially the final taking of the little town's bank is excellently filmed and pretty enthralling. A few stabs at the silliness of military ranks and command chains are also thrown into the mix. A very entertaining caper adventure with pretty impressive action scenes and a very lovable solution. It's particularly refreshing and are in WW2 films that a German opponent would listen to reason.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer


Kelly's Heroes is an overrated movie in my opinion. I like Donald Sutherland a lot and I hadn't seen a movie in which I didn't like him until now. His character is annoying and really ruined the movie for me. It wasn't just him though. I hated Don Rickles and Carroll O'Connor too. I didn't find this movie funny at all and it ran on way too long for what it was. I did really like the minefield scene though. It was the one part of the movie that was actually entertaining and gave me hope for the rest of the movie. One of the few Eastwood movies I didn't care for.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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