Yeah, I wouldn’t personally consider it a classic movie. I do like it and used to watch it when it happened to be on. Lee Marvin and Donald Sutherland are both good in it. John Cassavettes looks and acts like a bad half psycho but Grows Into A Team Player. There’s scene where he awkwardly gives a thumbs up and grins that I don’t think was supposed to be funny, but was. Telly Savalas’ character was probably meant to be scary and messed up.
A lot of it was meant to be funny and a lot of it was. I like when Sutherland reviews the troops and when Marvin gives the uptight officer a hard time by confiding that he now knows that under that cold exterior, there’s an emotional man with a lot of feelings. There’s a lot of macho going on, and some goofing.
I don’t think the movie version was meant to be gritty, although the book may have been. It’s been a long time since I read it. As I recall, it was straightforward, and not a lot of laughs.
Other bits of the film I think weren’t meant to be funny but kind of were: longhair paratroopers, Marvin’s sidekick dropping the name of the flick (“Come on you… you Dirty Dozen!”), Jim Brown having next to nothing to do until they give him hand grenades and get him to RUN REAL FAST, and that lame song the Dirty Guitarist plays.
As 60s WWII action/comedies go, I prefer Kelly’s Heroes.