By Steve Vivona
Warner, $24,95, Widescreen
Despite his Dirty Harry image Clint Eastwood has never shied away from comedy. One of his best efforts has just been released on DVD. "Kelly's Heroes" is a World War II comedy about a group of malcontent soldiers who perpetrate the heist of a lifetime.
Near the end of World War II a German colonel is captured by a ragtag unit of malcontent soldiers, but before he can be interrogated by the brass an artillery barrage hits the camp. Private Kelly (Eastwood) gets the colonel drunk and learns that the Germans plan to ship $14 million in gold bullion to a base in France.
Ever the entrepreneur Kelly decides to go after the gold himself, with a little help from some friends of course! He enlists the aid of Big Joe (Telly Savalas) his angry superior, a man who only wants to capture a town with a decent brothel and a good restaurant. Kelly also seeks out "Crapgame" (Don Rickles) a corrupt quartermaster who can get them the supplies they need.
Rounding out the quartet of masterminds is "Oddball" (Donald Sutherland), World War II's only hippie (the film was released in 1970). Oddball has three Sherman tanks at his disposal, but his cohorts doubt his ability to keep up his end. Several other soldiers enlist in this covert operation and we see lots of familiar faces including a young Harry Dean Stanton and Gavin MacLeod.
Also making a hilarious appearance is Carroll O'Connor as Colt, a glory-hungry general desperate for some notoriety as the war winds to a close.
"Kelly's Heroes" isn't a knee-slapper (except when Don Rickles is on the screen) but it's an entertaining heist caper that benefits from a strong ensemble cast. Sutherland is also funny as a character obviously meant to entertain audiences of the day (he recently reteamed with Eastwood for "Space Cowboys").
Warner has given a loving transfer to this MGM film. Colors are strong and accurate, and the source material seems to have been cleaned up nicely. Owing to the running time there is only a widescreen version and that's all that's needed for this Panavision film. A trailer has been included as well.