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Film / Kelly's Heroes

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"Woof woof woof! That's my other dog imitation."

Kelly's Heroes is a 1970 American war heist film directed by Brian G. Hutton and starring Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland, and Carroll O'Connor.

A squad of American soldiers in World War II France learn about a secret stash of German gold housed 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.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Big Joe always calls Babra "Barbara," much to his annoyance.
  • Action Prologue: The movie starts with Kelly's platoon kidnapping a German colonel and getting shelled by their own mortar squad.
  • Actor Allusion: Kelly and his squad mates face off against a Tiger tank with Spaghetti Western music in the background.
  • A Father to His Men: Despite Big Joe's anger, the first thing on his mind when Kelly brings in Colonel Dankhopf is where the best hotels and women are for his men.
    Big Joe: You gotta think of us as tourists. I don't want any military information, I just wanna know the best hotel, okay?
  • Alas, Poor Villain: While "villain" is really stretching it, one can't help but feel bad for poor Colonel Dankhopf, wandering drunkenly across the battlefield until he's shot by one of his own Tiger tanks mistaking him for an American in the dark. Even Kelly looks visibly disturbed at his death.
  • 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.
  • Almighty Janitor: Kelly is a former officer who was busted all the way down to private after being wrongly blamed for a failed allied mission. Because of his former role, his fellow soldiers still look to him for leadership and experience.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The ending of the movie leaves it vague as to whether Kelly and his companions are planning to outright desert and ride out the war in Switzerland, or merely hide the gold before rejoining the war effort, in order to be able to go home afterwards.
  • Answer Cut: Kelly asks the German tank commander if he'll blow open the bank doors for him. Cut to a shot of said doors... whereupon they're promptly blown to bits by the Tiger tank.
  • Armchair Military: General Colt thinks the reason things aren't going as well as they could be is because of a lack of Fighting Spirit. It turns out that he's right, but it's due to his own lack of leadership.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • The "sturmbannführer" (major) who speaks with the Tiger tank commander actually has the insignia of a hauptsturmführer (captain). For what it's worth, he's listed in the credits as "German Captain."
    • Also, it is very strange to see a bent-bolt Mosin-Nagant equipped with a scope featuring an American military reticle. Stranger still is an American sniper using a Russian Mosin-Nagant, rather than a Springfield M1903A4.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: According to Oddball, poink blank and from behind is the only way to takeout a Tiger with a Sherman's main gun. This is Truth in Television as the 75mm Sherman's gun was too weak to penetrate a Tiger's front armor, and the tactics to defeat them typically involved a Zerg Rush with multiple Shermans and try to hit the side or rear. Though, Oddball says that his Shermans have the 76mm cannon, which actually should be able to penetrate the Tiger frontally.
  • Big Applesauce: Crapgame is a stereotypical Brooklyn hustler.
    Oddball: To a New Yorker like you, a hero is some kind of weird sandwich, not some nut who takes on three Tigers!
  • Bilingual Bonus: None of the German or French dialogue is subtitled. In particular:
    • The lieutenant at the minefield's dialogue to his subordinates roughly translates to "What's this? Sergeant, take some men and check it out."
    • In the town, the Tiger tank commander and his superior have an entire conversation in unsubtitled German. The commander complains about fuel and his C.O. reassures him that there's more coming, to which the tank commander snidely replies, "I hope so."
    • The Germans also comment on the sudden bell ringing from the clock tower, wondering what is going on.
    • Then there's the French mayor gushing over Big Joe and later Colt.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Allied side is full of soldiers obeying orders being tossed to the wolves by Glory Hound generals that go around acting like the war is some kind of game, Jerkass executive officers that loot everything that is not nailed to the ground yet remind the aforementioned soldiers that looting is an offense punishable with death on top of other idiotic (and morale-killing) decisions and other even more idiotic soldiers, soldiers that are looking out for Number One and decide getting richer is worth going (and swindling other people) into a possible Suicide Mission (our heroes, ladies and gentlemen) and the other side... yeah, they're the Nazis, and even then the couple that actually interact with the protagonists probably wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't a war going on... maybe.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Oddball, for all his myriad of quirks, is a highly skilled tanker and extremely resourceful. He claims that he and his men deliberately try to appear zany and incompetent in order to avoid being sent on risky missions.
  • Butt-Monkey: Mulligan can never keep the shells straight, and gets zero respect from anyone.
  • The Caper: Robbing a German-held bank in World War II France of 16 million dollars worth of gold.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Maitland and Big Joe, although Maitlands smoothness comes from apathy and being as distant from the main action as possible.
  • Category Traitor: Little Joe is Italian and worries about being seen as this and shot if he’s captured.
  • 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.
  • Chromosome Casting: Features an entirely male cast, as befitting the military setting.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • 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.
  • Colonel Kilgore: General Colt is a perfect example except for the rank: he is a Cloudcuckoolander that can't think of any better strategy for his men to follow than Attack! Attack! Attack!, thinks Fighting Spirit can overcome anything (even radio interference) and thus bemoans that the people fighting (and dying) on the front lines aren't showing enough of it, and reacts to both a state of detente and the Heroes' push like an old man getting fed up with constant rainouts and then cheering as his home team kicks ass.
  • 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 say something 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!"
  • Communications Officer: Little Joe is the squads radioman and isn't afraid to protest crazy orders to the people giving them himself when none of his superiors are nearby. Booker serves as Colts communications officer but finds himself utterly confused by the contradictory messages he’s getting from Kelly and his Men’s attack when they aren’t supposed to be there.
  • Corrupt Quartermaster: Crapgame is an opportunistic supply sergeant who will do anything for money and illegally provides the equipment needed for the raid on the bank storing the Nazi gold.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Rather than fight the final Tiger, Kelly and Co. bribe the commander with a cut of the profits instead.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Oddball's tanks at the enemy railway depot. They kill everyone there, destroy the train equipment and demolish the buildings; meanwhile, none of the German bullets even scratch the Sherman tanks.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Moriarty constantly snarks at Oddball; see Commander Contrarian.
    • Big Joe is abrasive and sarcastic in Drill Sergeant Nasty fashion, but gets in a few deadpan lines when confronted with his commanding officer's gross incompetence.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "That nut has gotta be nuts."
  • Didn't Think This Through: In the opening scene, Germans located their field kitchen just next to a large, water-filled hole in the road. Even without the escaping Jeep, they just had to get thoroughly splashed sooner or later. If one watches carefully, there are many way more suitable places for a field kitchen around.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Oddball takes everything in stride, even when talking on a phone in hostile territory, or having a picnic when his tank breaks down.
    Bellamy: We haven't even captured that place already!
    Oddball: Yeah, so I heard, but everybody here seems real friendly.
    • When the final battle begins, the German take commander's expression suggests annoyance or weariness more than surprise or concern.
  • Double Take:
    • 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 Bellamy, 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!" Bellamy 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?" (Double Take)
    • The German MP at the beginning does one upon passing Kelly's Jeep the second time. Cue trouble.
  • 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.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Cowboy cheerfully drives through walls and into their impromptu headquarters while returning from reconnaissance.
  • 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".
  • The Engineer: Bellamy is the leader of an Army Engineer unit, whom Oddball contacts since the latter is in need of bridging equipment for his tanks.
  • Epic Tank-on-Tank Action: During the assault on Clermont, Oddball's Sherman goes up against and knocks out two of the Tiger tanks defending the town.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The German infantry and MP in the cold opening failing to notice the American jeep in which three of the four occupants are uniformed American soldiers. The MP does eventually see through the camouflage in audacity, kicking off the opening sequence.
  • Foreshadowing: When Kelly is rallying the platoon for the heist, 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.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Cowboy rings the church bells to cover the sound of the Sherman driving into town. They continue ringing for almost the entire final battle.
  • Friendly Sniper: Gutowski is a bit trigger happy, but serves as the platoons sniper and lets himself show a little concern and reflection in the process.
  • Friend or Foe?:
    • In the first scene, the platoon is getting shelled by their own mortar squad, thanks to incompetence on the part of its commander.
    • German officer Colonel Dankhopf is shot by a German tank.
    • When the team is behind German lines, an Allied plane shoots at them and destroys all of their transports, mistaking them for the enemy.
  • Freudian Excuse: Kelly used to be a lieutenant and a good officer, but he was given orders to attack the wrong hill and half of his company was killed. His superiors then scapegoated him, demoted him to private, and put him in a unit that is almost always on the frontlines but also always taken off them right before they can catch any good breaks. (Like occupying a city with actual running water) With a background as depressing as that, it is easy to see why Kelly has zero loyalty to the army and why he's only out to line his pockets with some good old-fashioned Nazi gold bullion then desert before his wildly incompetent commanders can get him killed.
  • Frontline General: Zigzagged with General Colt, who starts the movie comfortable at headquarters bossing people around, but does feel stirred to personally lead the charge to join in Kelly’s push after hearing how far they’ve gotten on the radio.
  • Gentlemen Rankers: Kelly used to be a lieutenant, but was scapegoated and demoted to private after half his platoon was wiped out due to incorrect orders from his superiors.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Steal 16 million dollars worth of gold and desert.
  • Hand Wave: Oddball claims he put a pipe over his tank's gun to make it look like a larger calibre. This is to cover up the fact it's a post-war modification.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Cowboy and Willard are both southern soldiers and so they get along better with each other than with the rest of the nuts on this mission.
  • Hollywood Density: Near the end, boxes supposedly 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.
  • Home Guard: the squad are members of the 35th Infantry Division, which is a National Guard unit which was activated for WW2.
  • Hypocrite: Captain Maitland sternly informs Big Joe that there is to be no looting — while he's stealing a yacht.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Watch the general's right hand as he's berating his officers. He's lucky to still have officers after waving a gun like that.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Gutowski is shown using a scoped Mosin-Nagant, a Soviet bolt action rifle, on the Western Front. He should have instead been using a scoped Springfield.
  • In Medias Res: The film opens toward the end of a losing battle.
  • Insult Backfire: Crapgame and Big Joe.
    Big Joe: Butt out, hustler! The only time you come out of the woodwork is when you smell a profit...
    Crapgame: Yeah?! Well, I'm coming out now, because Kelly's planned the perfect caper!
  • Internal Reveal: The enemy garrison strength at Clermont is already revealed at the start of the film during Kelly's interrogation of Col. Dankhopf, which is 3 Tiger tanks and around 40 infantrymen. However, Kelly chooses to withhold this information to the others up until they're already at the outskirts of Clermont, which causes doubts on Big Joe's and Oddball's ends when they find out about the Tigers.
  • In Vino Veritas: Kelly uses a bottle of brandy to interrogate Colonel Dankhopf, getting him too drunk to be capable of lying.
  • Irony: The outcome of the plot vs. the heroes' motivation. They wanted to avoid fighting the war and instead enrich themselves only, but their way to the German bank actually advanced the US front lines quite a bit.
  • The Klutz: Mulligan, please learn to tell the shells apart so you don't drop mortar barrages on your friends.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": During the minefield scene, an audible click is heard when Crapgame locates one with his bayonet.
    Crapgame: "Hey, hey, HEY! I found one!"
    Big Joe: [sarcastically] "What kind is it?'
    Crapgame: "The kind that blows up! How the hell do I know what kind it is?"
  • Leitmotif: Every time the gold manages to influence someone in the movie, a small chord pops in.
  • Little Hero, Big War: This film is less a war film and more a bank heist movie set during a war and carried out by soldiers. They do end up pushing back the German lines by 30 miles and liberate a French town from the Nazis, but that's sort of an incidental byproduct of the heist rather than something they're doing to help win the war.
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money: The catalyst for this film is a bank vault storing 16 million dollars of gold.
  • 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.
  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: Crapgame does an off-screen Double Take after realizing that he underestimated the value of the gold.
  • 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 (The plan to take Clairmont and rob the bank is dependent on the fact that Maitland never pays any attention to the running of his company and thus will not notice if they run off on an unauthorized mission) because he's General Colt's nephew.
  • The Neidermeyer: Captain Maitland. He cares more about looting things and buying expensive stuff from Paris than actually leading his platoon, and Big Joe, Kelly, and the rest of the would-be capers absolutely loathe him. It doesn't help that he's General Colt's nephew, so he can use his position to get away with all of it.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Oddball... in World War II; justified that they were classified as "Proto-Beatniks", precursors to the 60's hippies movement.
  • Nominal Hero: Kelly and his crew are motivated purely by opportunistic self-interest, and participate in the events of the film only for a chance to line their pockets. While they don't do anything particularly evil, they also exhibit nothing resembling selfless heroic behavior, either. Thus they are either "hero in name only" or a bunch of Villain Protagonists.
    • Kelly in particular. He convinces everyone (including a reluctant Big Joe) to abandon their posts and go deep into enemy lines for the gold while never mentioning, until it's too late to turn back, that the Germans are guarding the gold with greatly superior armaments (the three Tiger tanks). Big Joe is horrified when he learns about the Tigers, and even the eternally optimistic Oddball has to be talked into taking them on.
    • In fact, everything the protagonists do after embarking on the scheme is criminal, from the theft of the equipment, desertion, and even killing the Germans, since (as Oddball specifically states) they are no longer in the American military and therefore effectively mass-murderers.
  • 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.
    • How Kelly's American Jeep with two American soldiers and one German colonel get in the middle of a German column in the opening is never really explained.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: When trying to talk down the German tank commander, Kelly's heroes point out that they're all soldiers being told to die for no reason they can understand.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Whatever happened before the opening shots to get Kelly and Gutowski, in a Jeep with American markings, while wearing their American Army uniforms with a German colonel as their prisoner, in the middle of a German column.
    • Most of the fight at the bridge is offscreen, including one of Oddballs tanks making it across the river but then being destroyed.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Big Joe and Little Joe.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Oddball is calm and carefree throughout the film. However the mention of Tiger tanks are enough for him wanting to back out of the mission. In fact, the only time in the entire film Oddball is completely dead serious is when explaining to Kelly just how outmatched his Sherman is.
  • Only in It for the Money: The entire crew goes AWOL and is willing to desert for a share of the gold.
    Oddball: "For sixteen million dollars, we could be heroes."
  • Only Sane Man: Played with.
    Big Joe: What kinda guarantee is that, 'he's ready to go?' He's a nut!
    Jonesy: Well, 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.
  • Plot Armor: Nothing serious happens to either Kelly, Big Joe or Oddball while others are killed. Specifically, two of the three Sherman tanks are reported as knocked out, but Oddball's isn't.
    • Crapgame gets wounded just before the finale and his contribution to it is limited to the advice to offer the German tank commander a deal. When they actually divide the spoils, he is fine, though.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Mitchell's death in the minefield leaves remarkably little gore.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Guess who? Kelly and co. liberate a French town from the Nazis, and the town is jubilant. Of course, they were really just after the gold the Nazis stored in the town's bank.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Kelly and Big Joe point out that the last SS tank crew they can't knock out are simply guarding the aforementioned bank like they were told to, and may not actually know what's in it. Turns out the Germans are just as disillusioned with the war as the heroes are, and it doesn't take a whole lot of convincing to get the German tank commander to turn his gun around and blow open the bank's barred doors so he and his men can get in on the action.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Kelly (Military Maverick), Crapgame (a crooked supply Sergeant), Oddball (Proto-Beatnik tank commander), Turk (who wears a fez for some reason) etc.
  • Reading The Enemy's Mail: How Kelly finds out about the gold; it is hidden as a lead bar in Dankhopf's satchel.
  • Real Joke Name:
    • First Sergeant Mulligan.
    • The German colonel's name, Dankhopf, sounds terribly similar to Dummkopf ("idiot" in German). Ironically he's "a colonel in Intelligence."
  • Red Shirt Army: Well, "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.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Kelly's jeep in the middle of a German column was initially missed by the German MP in the opening because it never occurred to the MP that uniformed American soldiers would have a jeep in a German column.
    • Kelly, Big Joe, and Oddball slowly stride toward the last Tiger tank. The outlandish scenario presented was probably why the Tiger crew didn't gun them down the moment they see them.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns:
    • During a combat sequence, a 30-cal machine gun jams at a very inopportune time; possibly because Petuko 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.
    • Mitchell dies while attempting to clear the BAR's jam in the minefield.
    • Oddball's tank manages to survive the fight in the town, but just when it's needed most, to take out the Tiger guarding the bank, it breaks down, and they don't have a spare fuel pump to repair it with.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: General Colt thinks the breakthrough in German lines were done by some hardy, patriotic platoon on patrol. In fact, the soldiers in Kelly's platoon were motivated by greed.
  • 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.
  • Rugged Scar: The tiger tank commander has one on his cheek.
  • Running Gag
    • Optimist Oddball always telling the pessimist Moriarty to "knock it off with the negative waves."
    • Little Joe telling Babra that he told him the heist plan is going to work/not work, and Babra saying, "No, you never told me."
  • Screw the War, We're Partying
    • Big Joe doesn't care about any intel Dankhopf might have, he just wants to know which hotel at their objective is the nicest and if there are girls there.
    • Oddball and his men can't join The Team right away because they are throwing an offscreen party.
    • Maitland regards his military service as an opportunity to shop in Paris and steal somebody's yacht.
    • General Colt cheers on the squad's radio chatter as if he's listening to a football game.
  • Sergeant Rock: Big Joe, who is the de facto platoon leader since he's has the rough manner for it and Maitland is severely incompetent.
  • The Scrounger: When Kelly needs the rations, ammo, equipment and other supplies for his heist, he goes to Crapgame, who is clearly used to bending the rules.
  • Shooting Superman: During Oddball's tank squadron attack on the German railway outpost, the German soldiers fire their small arms and bigger machine guns at the tanks. They don't even phase the tanks.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: With a Tiger tank and taking half the door with it.
  • Shout-Out: "Get me Hogan in Intelligence."
  • Shown Their Work: Surprisingly, there are actually quite a few here.
    • Kelly, Big Joe, and most of the heist crew are members of the 35th Infantry Division, a unit that did indeed fight in Normandy and participate in fighting in the Nancy Area around the time the film was set in.
    • The Tiger tanks in Clermont have the accurate logo of the 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler", indicating that they're part of a Panzer Battalion attached to the Division, of which a few were indeed involved in Normandy and fighting in France.
  • 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.
    • The movie begins and ends with "Burning Bridges", a song whose protagonist laments all the wasted chances he had in his youth and regrets his earlier extreme arrogance. Except "Burning Bridges" is very appropriate when you consider that these guys, even if they end up rich, are never going to see their homes again. Deserting an army in wartime tends to carry penalties. Applies in a literal sense too, as actual bridges getting blown up daily by U.S. planes is an obstacle to travel for both Kelly's and Oddball's crews.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Cowboy talks in a drawl, plays the harmonica, and has a stereotypical laid-back attitude. Ditto for his pal Willard.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When the Tiger tank is parked in front of the bank and they don't have any way to get past it because all the Shermans are out of action, Crapgame is the only one to realize that the solution is not a military one, it's to cut a deal. He's been hustling and making deals his whole life, and he knows that most people would rather make a bargain instead of pursuing a hopeless course of action that is only going to end in lose-lose. Crapgame knows human nature.
    Crapgame: "Make a deal! Maybe the guy's a Republican. Business is business, right?"
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When asked about "broads," Dankhopf says there is "a house," but then hastily insists, while avoiding eye contact with Big Joe, that "I cannot give you the directions, I've never been there..."
  • Take Five: Crapgame tells his assistant to get a haircut, when Kelly wants to talk business in private.
  • Tank Goodness
    • 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:
    • The Shermans, while authentic, are post-war upgunned from a 105mm howitzer to the 76mm cannon using the same gun mount. This is handwaved with Oddball's "pipe on the gun to make the 76mm cannon look bigger". Also, in the film, Oddball says his 76mm Sherman could only destroy the Tigers with a point-blank hit to the rear. However, the side and rear are the same vulnerability and with the 76mm, should be able to penetrate the front easily as well.
      • Aside from a prototype or two, Shermans constructed during World War 2 never used the standard "small" turret for the 76mm cannon, but instead used the T23 turret. However, some small-turret Shermans *were* built with the 76mm, post-war, and purely for export, as seen in the film.
  • Tempting Fate: "It's a big beautiful bridge, and it's gonna be there." Next scene, the bridge is destroyed.
  • Team 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, complete with Oddball twitching his hand like he is about to quick-draw. See also Actor Allusion.
  • Those Two Guys: Southern-Fried Private’s Cowboy and Willard.
  • Translation Convention: Averted. Everyone (Americans, Germans, French) speaks their own language.
  • Treasure Room: The inside of the bank has boxes upon boxes of gold bars.
  • Trigger-Happy: Gutkowski gets called on burning through magazines by Job when they are rearming.
  • Uncertain Doom: It’s unclear whether any of the crews of Oddballs other two tanks could have survived their losses, but even if they did, they don’t seem to have accompanied the others to Clermont.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • In the opening scene, an American Jeep Willys is waiting in line with multiple German cars and tanks, with a large number of soldiers passing it. True, it can be simply stolen or salvaged by Germans, but still, there are American soldiers inside, including behind the wheel. Even when one German notices something is wrong and tries to stop the Jeep, no one else makes any attempt to stop or shoot at it - and there are literally dozens of German soldiers around - just allowing Kelly to get away.
      • To be fair, it was dark, cold, and raining. We had to see well enough as an audience, but it's safe to assume that conditions were bad enough to make it difficult for anyone to actually see, hear, and understand what was going on. Combine this with the all-too-human tendency to assume that nothing is going wrong, and to not believe what your senses are telling you when confronted with something completely unexpected, and it's not too far-fetched.
    • Kelly barely seems to notice Cowboy and Willard smashing through a wall a few feet away from him.
  • Urban Warfare: The Final Battle takes place within the town of Clermont, with both Kelly's guy's and Oddball's crew engaging German infantry and Tiger tanks in and around the area.
  • Weapons Understudies: 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 its longer engine deck). Contrary to some claims, the Tigers weren't made for Kelly's Heroes but for an earlier film made in Yugoslavia starring Yul Brynner called The Battle of Neretva. The Shermans also come from that film. A close up shows the bow machine gun is an MG42, which was never used in any German tank due to the quick-change barrel being removed from the front; the MG34 was used instead because the barrel could be changed from inside the tank.
  • Wham Line: In-universe as the audience already knows to this point. Big Joe asks Kelly about the military garrison in Clermont, where the gold is held. Kelly says "about 30 to 40 troops." Then Big Joe wonders where he got that info...
    Kelly: Because that is normal support for three Tiger tanks.
    Big Joe: *visibly shocked on hearing that* Tigers? Where did the Tigers come from?!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Big Joe turns up at the farmhouse with a chaplain 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 chaplain is still waiting in the Jeep outside for a lift back to HQ.
    • One surviving German soldier is seen running away from the minefield shootout. Nobody apparently notices him or tries to stop him. We never find out what happens to him.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Big Joe lets Kelly have it after he goes and tells the platoon about the Nazi gold after Big Joe warned him not to.
    Little Joe: Listen Joe, Kelly's got it figured pretty good!
    Big Joe: Listen crap, this guy's gonna get you all killed!
  • With Friends Like These...:
    Big Joe: We're not worried about the German Army! We've got troubles of our own! To the right, General Patton, to the left, the British Army, to the rear, our own goddamned artillery, and besides all that it's raining, and the one good thing to say about the weather is that it keeps our own Air Corps from blowing us all to hell! Verstehe?!
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The gold value and number of bars simply cannot be made to both work out in accordance with what we're shown and told. The detailed math kudzu is on the Headscratchers.Kellys Heroes page, if you're really interested in it.