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Name: TWILIGHT TIME
Number: TWILIGHT301-BR

PLAY DIRTY (1968) (BLU-RAY)
Starring:  Harry Andrews, Daniel Pilon, Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Nigel Davenport, Patrick Jordan
Directed By:  Andre De Toth
Composed By:  Michel Legrand

“This 1968 desert caper, the last film directed by veteran Andre De Toth, ranks among his best work…carries to a poetic extreme the betrayal theme that haunts De Toth’s strongest films.”
– Fred Camper, The Chicago Reader

“One of the great under-known combat pictures, one which no less than Martin Scorsese has called a guilty pleasure.”
– Jeremy Arnold, TCM.com

A superb cast topped by Michael Caine, Nigel Green, and Harry Andrews highlights classic director André De Toth’s last film, Play Dirty (1968), a combat film set in North Africa during World War II. The “heroes” here are vile, unsympathetic loners operating outside the mainstream military, in a narrative that plays both ends against the middle. Shot by Edward Scaife (The Dirty Dozen), and featuring a score from the sensational Michel Legrand.

LANGUAGE: English
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 2.35:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1968 / Color
118 MINUTES
RATED R Violence Including Sexual Assault

Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Original Theatrical Trailer

Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

  
Reviews and Comments: (1)
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Posted by Mark Turner on November 9, 2017 2:16 PM
The sixties saw a slew of war films being made focusing on WWII with many that are still considered classics. Both THE GREAT ESCAPE and THE DIRTY DOZEN were made during this time. But with the Vietnam War losing steam and support and more anti-war protests going on it was only a matter of time before the two collided. This was the case with PLAY DIRTY.

The war in Africa carries on and the allied forces are doing all they can to bring it to an end. Col. Masters (Nigel Green) has been sending out forays into the area and learning from them while casualties increase among those groups. He believes he has found Rommel’s gasoline dump and wants to send in an elite group to take them out. While chastised by his superior Brig. Blore (Harry Andres) he’s given the go-ahead and allowed someone who knows about gasoline depots to go along in charge. Once he leaves Blore presents the same concept and takes credit for the plan.

Capt. Douglas (Michael Caine) is the unfortunate gas expert to go along. Relatively new to command he’s an ex-British Petroleum employee. He meets with Masters and learns what his mission will be. He is accompanied by Capt. Cyril Leech (Nigel Davenport), a ruthless scoundrel more inclined to save his own skin rather than follow through with a mission. Masters agrees to pay Leech 2,000 pounds in return for Douglas’ safe return.

What follows is a rather lengthy trek across the desert with all that is included there. Sandstorms, an oasis and enemies galore attempt to prevent the motley crew from their goal. Each member of this group has some sordid past to contend with. Among them are murderers, traitors, rapists and a gay Arabian couple which I would think was quite controversial at the time. As proof of how despicable they are when they find a Red Cross truck for the Germans their first thought is to rape the nurse inside. One of the two Arabs stops this with Leech following up.

Leech and Douglas have no use for one another. Douglas may not be a battle weary soldier but he knows his duty and follows through. Leech on the other hand is willing to go along until something better comes up. Along the way the combative duo eventually come to terms with their situation.

Setbacks happen and problems force the team to rethink what to do next. Communications become impossible when their radio is damaged. Now on their own they continue to complete the mission, completely unaware that circumstances have changed and the higher ups now want the fuel left intact. These same men in charge feel that the task set for Douglas and his team is impossible and have no problem letting them be killed as acceptable losses. As a matter of fact they’re counting on it. It isn’t until the last portion of the film that the fate of Douglas and all in his command is revealed.

I enjoy war movies as well as anyone. I realize that a number of them made during WWII were done as entertainment but propaganda pieces as well. Why would you want to make a war film during wartime that helped the enemy? But movies made following the war still carried on a somewhat patriotic flair to them which is not always a bad thing.

The metaphors for the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement of the time had to eventually filter into the movies being made. While some of what happens in here is probably part true the movie at moments feels too over the top in its depiction of top level commanders seeking fame and glory at the expense of those beneath them. There were moments when watching that I wondered just who the bad guys in the story really were.

As far as the movie itself is it is slow going. The trek across the desert moves at a snail’s pace. The grit of the sand filling every uncovered inch of person and equipment can be felt while watching but the endless stretch of tan and brown doesn’t make for exhilarating entertainment. The choice to focus on the two main protagonists of Douglas and Leech leaves the rest of the team relatively unknown with little or no dialogue with their dialogue extremely limited.

In the end it was interesting to view from a historic aspect, a movie made against war about war, but I found little else to make me recommend this film to anyone but die hard WWII movie fans and Michael Caine fans. It’s not something I’d go back to revisit.

Twilight Time has released the film with their standard of perfection when it comes to the picture quality. Extras are limited to an isolated music and effects track and the original theatrical trailer. As with all Twilight Time releases copies are limited to just 3,000 copies so if you’re interested make sure you get one before they’re gone.

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