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 Lieutenant) October 25, 2016

Kelly's Heroes is a 1970 war comedy film directed by Brian G. Hutton about a group of World War II American soldiers who go AWOL to rob a bank behind enemy lines. The film stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O'Connor, and Donald Sutherland, with secondary roles played by Harry Dean Stanton, Gavin MacLeod, and Stuart Margolin. The screenplay was written by British film and television writer Troy Kennedy Martin. The film was a US-Yugoslav co-production, filmed mainly in the Croat village of Vižinada on the Istria peninsula.

The film was going to have a female role, but prior to filming, it was cut from the script. Ingrid Pitt, who was cast in the role, (and had been in the movie Where Eagles Dare with Eastwood the previous year) revealed that she was "virtually climbing on board the plane bound for Yugoslavia when word came through that my part had been cut".

Approximately 20 minutes were cut from the movie by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer before theatrical release. MGM even changed the title of the movie. Originally it was called The Warriors, then in post production it was changed to Kelly's Warriors and then to Kelly's Heroes.

The film mostly received a positive reception. The film was voted at number 34 in Channel 4's 100 Greatest War Films of All Time.

The film score was composed, arranged and conducted by Lalo Schifrin and the soundtrack album was released on the MGM label in 1970.


Factual error: 

  1. In the final shot of the movie, the Tiger tank/T34 is seen driving away emitting masses of diesel smoke common to the Russian T34. However the Tiger was a petrol tank, not a diesel, as mentioned by the German tank commander. The Sherman was also petrol and well known for its ability to catch fire when hit. It was nicknamed the 'Ronson.'
  1. When the raging Tiger is shooting around we can see that the muzzle brake of his gun stands still although it should be moving back and forth.
  1. I could be wrong, but I reckon trained soldiers would rather seek cover than to take on tanks with only rifles and submachineguns. In the scene where Oddball's tank squad shoots a German train station to pieces, the Germans fire at the vehicles with their smallarms, even though it's just a waste of ammo (maybe they were just desperate?).
  1. During Oddball's raid on the German train station, you can hear a radio playing 'All For the Love of Sunshine' by Hank Williams Jr. Hank Jr. wasn't even alive yet, let alone making records during WWII. The soundtrack to the film also contains the song, "All For the Love of Sunshine," which became the first No. 1 country hit for Hank Williams, Jr.
  1. During the battle at the bridge, Kelly asks Oddball about the other Shermans. Oddball replies, "No man, they've both had it. One is in the river and the other is on the other side burning." Soon afterwards we see Big Joe and Cowboy arguing with Bellamy about staying behind to fix the bridge, while crouched beside a Sherman. This is obviously not Oddball's Sherman as Big Joe and Cowboy are on the opposite side of the river, therefore it must be the one that Oddball said was burning. However, no right-minded soldier (or anyone else) would crouch next to a burning Sherman.
  1. Oddball tells Kelly their commander had been trying to get them killed ever since they landed at Omaha (beach). Oddball's tanks are part of the U.S. sixth Armoreddivision (the Super Sixth, as the unit shoulder patch on his jacket indicates) which actually landed at Utah beach on July 18, 1944.
  1. When the raging Tiger is shooting around we can see that the muzzle brake of his gun stands still although it should be moving back and forth.
  1. At the beginning of the film as the camera follows the security sergeant he taps a man on the shoulder. The man was standing next to the crossroads signs in a camouflage poncho. As he turns, you can see that he that he is wearing jeans and not a standard uniform of the era under the poncho.
  1. The sniper rifle used in the film is a Russian Mosin and were never used by the allies. They should have had a Springfield sniper rifle. The Americans would have had no occasion to "exchange" weapons with Russian soldiers until the end of the war, when they met on the Elbe River.
  1. As Oddball and his motley crew depart with the "purchased" Tiger, Moriarity is standing up in the hatch, fiddling with his cap. Since this is the driver's position, and very cramped, either he is straddling the driver's shoulders, or driving with his feet.
  1. Almost all the German soldiers in the movie are armed with MP-40 SMGs. In fact, most German infantrymen during World War II were armed with Mauser rifles. MP-40s were only issued to squad leaders and officers.
  1. Near the end of the movie the general and the army convoy drive through the town and are stopped by all the celebrating going on. If you look at all the cheering villagers, you can see they are dressed in modern (for 1970) clothes and have hairstyles that were not around in the 1940s.
  1. During the scene where Clint Eastwood is trying to convince Don Rickles to join in the heist, there is a box of Almond Joy candy bars behind Don's head. They weren't introduced until 1946.
  1. The "BAR" carried and fired in the movies is actually a FN-D Model that was never issued by the US Army in WWII. It was developed post war in Europe. Also the Thompson machine guns and the 1919A4s are all firing at a accelerated rate of fire, much faster than normal. This can be attributed to the weapons being blank adapted.
  1. During the discussion between Crapgame and Kelly in the supply depot, just after Crapgame realises that snatching the gold from behind enemy lines would be "the perfect crime", a jet airliner can be heard flying overhead. Jet aircraft were in use by the Luftwaffe - but only on their side of the lines with the exception of a few recon and bombing missions at the front, specifically on the Remagen bridge in March of 1945,– months after the movie's timeframe.

Continuity mistake: 

  1. When Kelly visits Mulligan he is carrying a bottle of whiskey, he then visits crapgame who gives him a bottle of whiskey, which suggests that the scenes are the wrong way round and Kelly was originally meant to visit crapgame first.
  1. When Kelly comes to make a proposition to Mulligan, the sun is on Mulligan's back. When both are in the shot from Kelly's view, both are in the sunlight. Then at the, "I need an authorisation" reverse shot, they are both in the shade, these 2 scenes are obviously shot at two very different times.
  1. Big Joe gets out of his jeep, salutes Captain Maitland, and converses about the upcoming time off for the men. Behind Big Joe is one of his half tracks and he is on Maitland's right. The scene cuts and Maitland's "liberated" yacht is behind Big Joe and he is directly in front of Maitland.
  1. As the squad are taking a break on top of a hill, just before the fighter-bomber attacks them, Corporal Job is distributing ammo and Jonesey can be seen walking past in the background with four boxes of K-rations. A moment later, Crapgame and Jonesey are sitting together sharing the contents of the boxes. After Crapgame goes to the jeep for some water, the shot cuts to Kelly sitting by a tree. Jonesey walks up to Kelly with a message from Big Joe - carrying four unopened K-rations boxes.
  1. When Kelly asks Little Joe for the brandy to interrogate the German officer, he is handed a square bottle with a short neck. In the next shot, as they sit down for their "friendly drink" Kelly sets down a round bottle with a long neck.
  1. Two of the German SS Tank officers are walking together through the streets of Clairmont chatting. In the first scene with them, the officer on the left carries the rank of 'Obersturmführer,' denoted by his lapel badges, and the officer on the right has lapel badgesshowing him to have the rank of 'Sturmbannführer' (although both officers' shoulder badges show no correlating rank to their lapels). However, in the second scene with the same two officers still walking and chatting, the officer on the right has been demoted as he is now showing the rank of 'Untersturmführer.'
  1. After Cowboy spots the Tiger coming down the street the scene changes to a view of the three soldiers running from away from the bank from the viewpoint of the Tiger. The Tiger's turret is facing the soldiers. In the next shot the Tiger is shown in the distance with its barrel pointing straight forward. In the next shot, the turret is facing the fleeing soldiers again.
  1. At the end when confronting the last tank to get the bank doors open, Oddball, Big Joe, and Kelly line up in an alley as if they are directly facing the tank and start walking forward. In the next shot, which is wider and much farther away, you see that they are actually walking down a curved alley and can't see the tank until they come all the way around the corner.
  1. Near the end of the film as Oddball's Sherman drives into the French town, the amount of ammunition in the ammo holder on the turret .50 calibre machine gun gets larger in almost every shot. As the tank crashes through the bushes approaching the town there is hardly any ammo in the box, up until the second Tiger is ambushed when suddenly there is plenty of ammunition.
  1. When the last surviving Tiger rages in Clairmont, shooting at surrounding buildings, there are a couple of shots, when we see both the tank's gun firing and the 'shell impact' effect. The tank's gun is not always pointed at the exact spot where the 'shell' explodes - it's particularly visible when the Tiger lowers the gun and shoots a hole in a wall, immediately after Big Joe threw a grenade and fired at the tank with his SMG. The hole in the wall appears a good few feet to the left, from where the gun points and the actual projectile would hit.
  1. In the scene when Kelly is shown the Oddball's tank for the very first time, the Sherman has a loudspeaker mounted on the right hand side of the turret. The loudspeaker is placed on the opposite side of the turret for the rest of the movie. Also as far as luggage and other external storage is concerned, this tank actually looks different in every scene.
  1. After Oddball's tank gets across the river, the movie returns to the general's headquarters where Carroll O'Connor is yelling at his officers for not knowing anything about the battle. There is a soldier standing behind O'Connor with his hands on his hips and his shirt sleeves rolled up. The scene changes briefly to show the officers that O'Connor is yelling at before switching back to O'Connor. The soldier behind O'Connor still has his hands on his hips, but now his sleeves are rolled down.
  1. While Big Joe is talking down to the Captain in the boat, Joe is blocking the stairs to the upper deck with his whole body. As the Captain moves up the stairs, Joe is off to the Captain's right. When the Captain emerges from the lower deck, Joe is dead center of the Captain and then moves out of the Captain's path.
  1. Don Rickles is assembling the .30 calibre machine gun onto its tripod prior to the action in the French village. Neither he nor his co-gunner have any visible anmmunition. The scene changes, the comes back to the .30 calibre machine gun, which is set up on its tripod and is loaded with a belt of ammunition. Where did the ammunition come from?
  1. When the guys are making a "deal" with the tiger tank commander, Big Joe's left hand on the muzzle of the tigers gun changes positions between shots.

Revealing mistake: 

  1. At the end of the scene with the destroyed bridge, when Oddball's Sherman drives away, Cowboy is nearly left behind and climbs onto the rear of the tank by standing on a box attached to the rear plating. The next time we see this tank from the rear, the box is gone. It was obviously there only to help Cowboy climb on.
  1. After Kelly tells Big Joe he's going after the gold "with ya or without ya", a soldier in the background walks past a steel tank trap weighing a quarter ton. He bumps it with his backpack, and it flips up in the air.
  1. When Oddball's tanks raid the train station, watch the two Germans with the MP 40s caught by the first cannon blast. When the explosive charge used for the effect goes off, they jump forward.
  1. Blank firing adaptors are visible on the bow machine guns of Oddball's Shermans as they shoot up the rail yard.

Deliberate mistake: 

  • The German tanks in this movie are not really Tiger tanks. They are Russian T-34's made to look like Tigers. The T-34's are done up very realistically, including Zimmerit (the wavy pattern on the hull of the tiger), which was an anti-magnetic paste put on the tank.

Character mistake: 

  • In the scene where Crapgame is sitting in the back of the truck at the end, when the men are loading Kelly's squad's take after splitting with the Germans and Oddball, Crapgame asks Fisher to verify his calculations. There are 125 boxes of gold left valued at $8,400 per box. Fisher says that they are worth $10.5 million, and each of the twelve men in the squad will get $875,000. The actual amount (125 x 8400) is $1.05 million, making a per man take of $87,500.

Other mistake: 

  1. When Telly Savalas drives into the farmhouse he leaves the chaplain in the jeep which is approx. 50 feet from where Clint Eastwood and the rest of the soldiers are planning to steal the gold. For about five minutes they are arguing quite loudly about if it is a good idea and afterwards they then agree to the heist and they all crowd around the map and are extremely jubilant. Is the chaplain still sitting in the jeep listening to all this? We never see him again.
  1. When they are lifting the boxes of gold at the end of the movie you can tell that the boxes are empty.

Plot hole: 

  • When Kelly drives into the American area after capturing the Colonel we see an M16 (Multiple Gun Motor Carriage) firing its machine guns into the air. What are they shooting at? Its an artillery barrage not an air raid, and Big Joe even comments later on that it's too lousy to fly so it couldn't have been enemy aircraft.

Visible crew/equipment: 

  • Clint Eastwood drives his jeep up to Telly Savalas who asks where Eastwood has been. Shot changes to over Savalas' shoulder, and look at Eastwood. At the rear of the jeep, immediately behind Eastwood and in the middle of dozens of fatigue clad GIs, a crew member in a button-down striped shirt fiddles with something for a few seconds before glancing up at Savalas and then walking out of the frame


  1. While filming the John Landis film "Innocent Blood", Actor Don Rickles would elicit big laughs from the cast and crew when he would call to director John Landis, "Hey, Landis! Get us some coffee." Rickles remembered John Landis when Landis was a production assistant on the film "Kelly's Heroes."
  1. One of the nuns walking through the village as Oddball's Sherman rolls by is productionassistant and later Hollywood movie director John Landis.
  1. While on set, actor Donald Sutherland contracted spinal meningitis, went into a coma and was expected to die. Sutherland made a full recovery and continued filming.
  1. When Oddball's tank crushes a car, the car had to be bolted to the ground so as not to move. During previous takes, the Sherman would merely shove the car out of the way, prompting the film makers to secure the car to the ground to prevent it from being shoved.
  1. As Oddball's Sherman tank rolls through a town, an old man gets up to look around the corner to observe the tanks passing through. After that scene, the old man had a heart attack and died immediately after. Donald Sutherland and members of the film crew tried to save him, but were unsuccessful. The film crew built the old man's coffin for his burial and the cast and crewraised money for his family.
  1. Actor Richard Davalos kept his bayonet razor sharp and accidentally stabbed Telly Savalas in the arm during the scene where the squad jumps over the wall to ambush the Germans on the road, warranting bandages on Savalas' arm. In the film, Savalas kept his shirt sleeves rolled up, until he was stabbed, and then kept his sleeves rolled down to hide the bandages.
  1. The filmmakers got most of their vehicles and equipment from the Yugoslavian army, as they still had WW2 vehicles in their current inventory. The communist government of Broz Tito was more than happy to rent out their usage to the filmmakers for the extra cash.

Source: | Wikipedia | 43shen (Youtube)

WW2 Timeline: 

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