Dirty Heroes (1967)

Possibly the best that I’ve watched of the “Euro-Cult” variations on Hollywood’s war-themed spectaculars of the 1960s (ditto with respect to the films of director De Martino); that said, its overall quality is only comparable to second-tier legitimate efforts like, say, THE DEVIL’S BRIGADE (1968) or KELLY’S HEROES (1970)!

I’ve watched a few of these during the past year and they mostly emerged to be competent and enjoyable, but also instantly forgettable; being usually co-productions between various European countries, they still managed to attract a number of international stars. In this case, the hero is played by American Frederick Stafford (who later made BATTLE OF EL ALAMEIN [1969] and EAGLES OVER London [1969]). Interestingly, the film co-stars four James Bond alumni in leading lady Daniela Bianchi (FROM Russia, WITH LOVE [1963]), Curd Jurgens (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME [1977]), Adolfo Celi (THUNDERBALL [1965]) and Anthony Dawson (DR. NO [1962]); also on hand are Howard Ross, Michel Constantine, John Ireland and, most impressively perhaps, Helmuth Schneider as a nasty SS officer.

What’s unusual about this particular title is that it throws in an elaborate diamond caper (with access to the vault gained from under water) amidst the usual Nazis-vs.-Partisans action. Of course, to complicate matters further is the budding romance between Stafford and Bianchi (she’s a Jew married to high-ranking German officer Jurgens!) and, besides, virtually all those involved have their own agenda as to what to do with the loot! The action sequences are no less sweeping than those of the typical Hollywood outing, particularly during the (rather protracted) climax – this is then followed by a clumsy attempt to tie up its many loose ends, thus making the whole even more overlong! As a matter of fact, in hindsight it seems that the film doesn’t know whether it wants to be a straightforward war actioner, a tongue-in-cheek caper adventure or something a lot more solemn altogether, but at least it does have its moments in each of these facets.

Incidentally, this was one of the few times where composers Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai share