Legion of the Damned (1969)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Jack Palance in Legion of the Damned (1969)

Palance's Quella Sporca Dozzina

After his platoon was massacred on what ended up being a suicide mission against the Germans, Irish Colonel Charlie McPhearson (Jack Palance) has had enough. That is until he asked to assemble a group of men to go on another mission as the target is an operation run by Colonel Ackerman (Wolfgang Preiss) whose troops were responsible for his platoon's demise. Assembling a group of military convicts McPherson knocks them it to shape to complete their mission which is to defuse underwater mines to clear the way for a June 10 invasion by commandos. But for McPhearson this is personal and he wants his men not only to do what they had to do but also the job of the commandos.

For those who don't know their Italian movie titles "Quella Sporca Dozzina" was the Italian title for "The Dirty Dozen" which "Legion of the Damned", one of its various titles, is clearly influenced by. And truth be told if you watch "Legion of the Damned" looking for some serious war movie entertainment I doubt you will be entertained as this is riddled with all those flaws which Italian cinema had in the 60s and 70s such as the poor dubbing and editing to name just two.

Curd Jürgens in Legion of the Damned (1969)

But as is often the case when you watch "Legion of the Damned" now it takes on a whole new level of entertainment as some of it is so bad it becomes good. One such part of the movie is Jack Palance who trust me does not have the same convincing gruffness of Lee Marvin to pull of a leader but at times in this looks like he has been knocking back the drinks in order to get through the movie shoot. Then there is of course his Irish accent, an inconsistent accent right from the word go which I am not entirely sure was all Palance as at times it feels more like he has been dubbed along with the rest of the actors.

In fairness some of the action in "Legion of the Damned" is not bad and whilst you can see that a lot of it has been created on a budget it is filmed in such a way to remain exciting rather than corny. I actually reckon that if the usual flaws such as bad dubbing and editing has been sorted then "Legion of the Damned" might have ended up half decent.

What this all boils down to is that for the most "Legion of the Damned" is what you expect from an Italian made war movie from the 60s with many of the usual flaws. Now on one hand that makes it weak but on the other makes it often entertaining for the wrong reasons. But mostly it makes you think that with more money and time to smooth out these issues "Legion of the Damned" wouldn't have been half bad.


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