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The Dirty Dozen Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Classic WWII action movie still packs a violent punch.

What 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.

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How does it compare to the violence in contemporary movies? Would more intense violence serve the movie better, or does it work the way it is?
  • What does the movie have to say about authority figures?
  • How does the movie handle female characters? Does it portray a stereotypical view of women?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: 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.

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    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.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: 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.

  • sex false2

    Sex: 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.

  • language false2

    Language: 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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    Consumerism: Not an issue

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    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink Scotch during the party scene. Some characters smoke cigarettes.