Kelly's Heroes is a 1970 comedy/war movie made by MGM. It stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland, and Carroll O'Connor. It's about a squad of American soldiers in World War II France who learn about a secret stash of German gold in a bank deep behind enemy lines. Unappreciated by their clueless, profiteering captain and continually denied any chance at decent R&R, they are ripe for the promise of heroic adventure and enthusiastically embark on their new, unauthorized mission. With the help of tank commander Oddball and his squad of misfits, an incompetent artillery officer, a greedy supply officer, a marching band, and a grave digger battalion, they stand to make a fortune.
All Germans Are Nazis: Averted; the word "Nazi" is never spoken once. The Germans are just called "Germans", or sometimes "Krauts". The German tank commander starts a Nazi salute (presumably out of habit, not out of conviction) but stops himself after getting a stern look from Kelly.
Chekhov's Gun: The paint shells that Oddball's tank carries show up again at an inopportune moment: ambushing a Tiger tank. Fortunately, the Tiger is unable to retaliate before they can load a live round.
Oddball is a proto-Beatnik, with a "hey, man", "positive vibes" attitude that is jarringly out of place in a war zone.
General Colt attends staff meetings in his bathrobe, blames his subordinates for his own failings, cheers at the battle reports on the radio like he's listening to a sports event, and runs off to the front lines in a Jeep with a box of medals in hand, leaving his command staff behind.
Commander Contrarian: Moriarty is a determined naysayer to contrast Oddball's cheerfulness. He gets in his digs when Oddball's "positive thinking" fails to deliver results.
Oddball: "Why can't you be righteous and hopeful for a change?" Moriarty: "Crap."
Moriarty: "Look, Oddball, I can't fix it without the parts no matter how positive I think!"
Crapgame has a delayed double-take when he realizes he misplaced a decimal when calculating the value of the gold.
When Oddball is talking to the bridging unit sergeant, it takes him a few tries to realize what Oddball is getting at.
"...I need support units, Oddball! I need at least a hundred guys!" The sergeant gestures toward a window for emphasis. Though the window a full military band can be seen playing. "Where do I find a hundred men, just like that-?" (Beat)
The Dreaded: Kelly is the only one in this movie who isn't scared shitless of Tiger tanks. Telling Kelly how stupid it is to attack Tigers with Shermans is Oddball's only truly serious moment.
During the War: The film is set shortly after the Allied invasion of Europe in World War II. Big Joe complains about Mulligan dropping mortars on them "since Normandy".
Foreshadowing: When Kelly is rallying the platoon for the heist, Corporal Job says, "If I've got to go, it may as well be this trip as any other." Later, he's one of the three who get killed in the minefield.
Gay Paree: Averted. While the movie takes place in France, nobody goes to Paris, and in fact, meet no French, until the very end. The closest we get to Paris is Captain Maitland coming back from there with his arms piled high with packages.
Hollywood Density: Near the end, boxes filled with gold bars are tossed around as though they were empty, even though they would actually weigh several hundred pounds. For more see here.
Hypocrite: Captain Maitland sternly informs Big Joe that there is to be no looting — while he's stealing a yacht.
Mid-Battle Tea Break: During the final battle, Oddball's tank breaks down, so he sets up a nice little spread of cheese and wine while his men try to fix it.
Oddball: "I only ride 'em, I don't know what makes 'em work."
Military Maverick: Kelly is the primary instigator and motivator of The Plan. His backstory states that he used to be a lieutenant, but was made the scapegoat and got busted down when he was ordered to assault the wrong hill, and half his company was killed.
Misfit Mobilization Moment: The squad isn't composed of misfits per se, but they are war-weary and unappreciated. The gold inspires them to uncharacteristic levels of heroism.
Mood Whiplash: It looks like the platoon's in for a funny adventure until they run into successive misfortunes, starting with being attacked by their own aircraft. Then we cut to the Allied command and General Colt in his bathrobe, then three members of the squad die in a minefield, and so on.
Mook-Face Turn: In the end, the squad runs out of ways to defeat the Tigers, and are forced to negotiate. It turns out that the commander of Tiger 115 doesn't know what he is guarding, and is vulnerable to greed.
Mundane Utility: Oddball's men use their tank for hanging their laundry and as support for their tents.
Nazi Gold: Kelly learns of a secret stash of gold behind enemy lines.
Nepotism: Maitland gets away with being severely incompetent because he's General Colt's nephew.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Carroll O'Connor plays a hilariously incompetent, over-the-top general who is clearly intended to be a mockery of Patton.
Noodle Incident: The "something very special" that Oddball's boys have planned, that makes it impossible for them to start the mission that night. It's played with in that rather than hearing about it after the fact but never finding out what happened, we're told that it's going to happen — and never find out what it was, nor is it ever mentioned again. IMDB states that it's a party that Oddball is hosting with some French girls.
Not So Different: When trying to talk down the German tank commander, our heroes point out that they're all soldiers being told to die for no reason they can understand.
Big Joe:Oddball? He's nuts! Corporal: We're all nuts, or we wouldn't be here!
The Perfect Crime: The plan to rob the bank is called this by Crapgame. It's not their own side's gold, after all, and if nobody else knows it's there, they can steal it and get away scot free.
Photoflood Lighting: In the opening credits the Jeep possesses an unseen bulb of unusual intensity that just happens to illuminate Kelly's face.
The Plan: Once Kelly finds out about the gold, he devises the following plan: gather men and supplies, march 30 miles behind enemy lines and rob a bank carrying 14,000 bars of Nazi Gold.
Power Walk: Kelly, Big Joe, and Oddball approaching the German tank, in its pure and classic Western-showdown form, despite taking place in a narrow cobblestone street in a town in France. See also Actor Allusion.
Redshirt Platoon: Oddball has three tanks under his command, including his own. The other two are knocked out during the bridge battle towards the end and Oddball does not bat an eyelid.
Reliably Unreliable Guns: During a combat sequence, a 30-cal machine gun jams at a very inopportune time; possibly because the operator didn't have someone to help him feed the belt ammo. Fortunately, the Germans shooting back at him apparently attended the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, because he manages to clear the jam and kill them all anyway.
Rousing Speech: Big Joe delivers a spoof of one, with true Drill Sergeant Nasty tone, trying to motivate the men to not treat a three day liberty at a dilapidated farmhouse as the crapsack it is. He talks about setting up a bar, finding booze, some dirty movies, and making a night club.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Oddball's tank plays soothing music the first time it fights onscreen. Explosions and shouting to several folksy tunes including I've Been Working on the Railroad, made doubly hilarious because they're blasting the crap out of, among other things, a crew repairing a railroad bridge.
Oddball's tank has a pipe attached to it to make its gun look bigger, it can shoot paint to "make pretty pictures," and it plays music, very loud, to scare their enemies.
Tiger 115 is "a beautiful tank". Even Oddball thinks so, seeing as how he uses his share of the gold to buy it from its crew.
Tanks, But No Tanks: Three Russian T-34 tanks were converted into very life-like German Tiger Tanks (the real glaring error was the wheels of the tanks, and of course, being about half the size of a real Tiger).
Treasure Room: The inside of the bank has boxes upon boxes of gold bars.
Trigger Happy: Gutkowski. He gets called on burning through clips by the Corporal when they are rearming.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Big Joe turns up at the farmhouse with a Padre and some movies for the guys to watch, after he hears Kelly's speech he decides to go along with the plan which they start preparing. However the padre is still waiting in the jeep outside for a lift back to HQ.