Classic war adventure based on a popular novel by E.M.Nathanson where twelve convicted criminals are enlisted on a suicide mission into France to capture a chateaux and a host of German generals who are held up there. Lead by Major Reisman (Marvin in magnificent form), he negotiates with General Worden (Borgnine) that should any of the men distinguish themselves in combat they will be granted pardons and released from prison as a reward. Motivated by this, the rugged twelve become a tight unit and go to battle - knowing that they may never return.Without doubt, this is one of the most solid of wartime movies, with a show-stopping Cassavetes in top form, stealing every on-scene moment from Marvin. Brilliant!
Another cracking classic 60's war film. Come on you've seen it haven't you? Criminal soldiers are put together for a suicide mission. Savalas steals it as a religious psycho.
A vastly entertaining and satisfying movie, with Aldrich's characteristic disdain for authority coming to the fore. It has to be admitted, though, that the actual plot is utter pulp nonsense. Why use a bunch of convicts to perform a mission Rangers or OSS were trained to do (and could probably perform without 70% casualties)? The "classic" book the film is based on is psychological nonsense that the filmmakers wisely discarded to make a pulpy action film. Note which has lasted the test of time. . .
Some great performances, with Brown, Bronson and Sutherland the standouts among the Dozen. Cassavetes is a little much. If you like scenery chewing, he's great, though. Bronson gets one of the best closing lines in cinema, too.
Note 04 October 2013: I see IMDb has "borrowed" my listing of the uncredited actors from here for their listing. Flattering, I guess, but kind of vexing to see one's work stolen. At least they have an accurate list for once.
Three mediocre made-for-tv sequels followed in the 1980s: The Next Mission (1985), The Deadly Mission (1987), and The Fatal Mission (1988)