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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This movie celebrates the actions of misfits and outsiders, especially their bad behavior. The more responsible authority figures are seen as buffoons and bad guys. However, the main theme of the movie is that 12 outcasts learn to work together. The major shows them respect and tolerance for perhaps the first time in their lives, and they respond with loyalty and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Though he's a bit of a hardheaded maverick himself, Major Reisman earns audience sympathy during the first scene, when he registers disgust at the hanging of a prisoner. Assigned to train 12 troublesome prisoners for a dangerous mission, he begins by treating them roughly, though it's all a plan to form a bond between them. Once the bond is formed, Reisman shows that even the most undesirable misfit can contribute something if given trust and something to believe in.
Violence & Scariness
This WWII movie was considered excessively violent in its day and even though some of the more brutal violence is offscreen, the effect is still intense today. It opens with a hanging. Over the course of the story, there's fighting, kicking, and stomping. A knife is pulled. During the climactic sequence, there's shooting, dead bodies, and explosions, but very little blood. There's a mention of rape and castration. One character attacks and repeatedly stabs a woman, though the focus is on the man's face and not the attack itself.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The men enjoy an evening with some "hired girls," though we don't see anything more than dancing and flirting. There are "girly" pictures on the walls.
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Language was strong for its day, but mild compared to now. Words include "hell," "damnation," "bitch," "slut," "bastard," "Oh my God," "horny," "mothers" and "son of a ...."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink Scotch during the party scene. Some characters smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this classic WWII action movie from 1967 was considered extremely violent when released, though it's tamer than many PG-13-rated movies of today. It includes a hanging, fighting, kicking, shooting, and explosions (though there's very little blood), plus a man stabbing a woman to death. In one scene, the men spend an evening with some "hired girls," though nothing more than dancing is shown. Language is light, but includes some gateway words like "damn," "hell," "bitch," and "bastard. There is also some drinking and smoking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The Dirty Dozen is a classic, and it's great entertainment, though it's not generally considered a great movie. Director Robert Aldrich (Kiss Me Deadly, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) was one of Hollywood's most brutal, unruly directors, and his instincts sometimes led to huge flops, as well as to popular successes like this one. Certainly a 150-minute action movie could come across a bit sloppy and overstuffed. Today, however, the movie actually looks tighter and more focused -- and less violent -- than it might have when it first opened.
Aldrich manages to use his time well, focusing on character traits and never letting the pace become bogged down. It comes more from the gut, or by the seat of its pants, than it does from a place of thoughtfulness or artistry. Moreover, it seems to have a very low opinion of women, although that's not surprising given the genre and time period. Regardless of its place in cinematic heirarchy, watching The Dirty Dozen is a rite of passage for some teen boys and many successful movies have followed its format (see The Expendables.)
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.