Kelly's Heroes | All The Tropes Wiki | Fandom

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

Kelly's Heroes is a 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 Two 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, a grave digger battalion, and eventually the very Germans they set out to fight, they might just succeed, and in the process win an improbable victory for the Allied forces.

Tropes used in Kelly's Heroes include:
  • Action Prologue - The movie starts with Kelly's squad getting mortared on by their own men.
  • Actor Allusion - the scene where Kelly faces off against the Tiger with Spaghetti Western music in the background.
  • All Germans Are Nazis - Averted. In fact, the word "Nazi" is never spoken once. The Germans are just called "Germans," or sometimes "Krauts."
  • Armchair Military - General Colt, who thinks the reason things aren't going as well as they could be is because of a lack of Fighting Spirit. It turns out he's right, but for the wrong reasons.
  • Big Applesauce: Crapgame is a stereotypical Brooklyn hustler

 Oddball: "To a New Yorker like you, a hero is some kind of weird sandwich..."


 Oddball: "Why can't you be righteous and hopeful for a change?"

Moriarty: "Crap."

    • He later gets in his digs, though, when Oddball's "positive thinking" definitively fails.

 Moriarty: "Look, Oddball, I can't fix it without the parts no matter how positive I think!"

  • Cool Hat - Turk, one of Oddball's tank crew constantly wears a fez; also , Oddball's leather tanker's helmet probably qualifies.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Moriarty. Also Big Joe on several occasions.
  • Department of Redundancy Department - "That nut's gotta be nuts."
  • Double Take - Crapgame has a massive delayed one of these when he realizes he misplaced a decimal when calculating the value of the gold.
  • During the War
  • Foreshadowing - When Kelly is rallying the platoon for the heist, the Corporal 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.
  • Friend or Foe - In the first scene, the titular group is getting mortared upon by their own side. Later, a plane flies over, shooting at them. It's American.
    • Also near the beginning, the captured German officer gets shot by a German tank.
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme
  • 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
  • Hypocrite - Captain Maitland sternly informs Big Joe that there is to be no looting - while he's stealing a yacht.
  • Inferred Holocaust - Genuine military-history experts who've watched this film agree that Oddball's tank crew almost certainly would've died after leaving the scene in a damaged Tiger (in German uniforms, no less), blown up by Allied air patrols or other friendly fire. Kelly's own group probably would've gotten shot and/or arrested for riding back across the American lines in a German truck. The German tank crew might well be the only ones who got away clean to spend all that gold!
  • In Medias Res - The film opens toward the end of a losing battle.
  • In Vino Veritas - Colonel Dunkhepf reveals the location of the gold after having several drinks.
  • The Klutz - Mulligan, please learn to tell the shells apart so you don't drop mortar barrages on your friends.
  • Land Mine Goes Click - "The kind that blows up! How the hell do I know what kind it is?"
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break - Literally. During the final battle, Oddball's tank breaks down, so he takes the opportunity to set up a nice little spread of bread and wine.
  • Military Maverick - Kelly, who 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...then they run into the minefield.
  • Mook Face Turn - the commander of Tiger 115 has one of these when he learns just what he's guarding.
  • Mundane Utility - Oddball's men use their tank for hanging their laundry and as support for their tents.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood - Barbara Babra
  • Nazi Gold: 14,000 bars of it. (16 million dollars worth)
  • New Age Retro Hippie - Oddball... in World War Two; justified that they were classified as "Proto-Beatniks", precursors to the 60's hippies movement.

 "Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?"

  • No Celebrities Were Harmed - Carroll O'Connor plays a hilarious, over-the-top general Patton -I mean, Colt.
  • 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.
  • Not So Different - Our heroes invoke this when trying to talk down the German tank commander.
  • One Steve Limit -- Averted with Big Joe and Little Joe.
  • Only in It For the Money - "For sixteen million dollars, we could be heroes."
  • Only Sane Man - Played with.

 Big Joe: Oddball? He's nuts!

Kelly: We're all nuts, or we wouldn't be here!

  • The Perfect Crime - The plan to rob the bank. Invoked word-for-word by Crapgame.
  • 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.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
  • Reading the Enemy's Mail - How Kelly finds out about the gold.
  • Real Joke Name - Staff Sergeant Crapgame and First Sergeant Mulligan.
  • 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.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying - Big Joe doesn't care about any intel the German 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 (see Noodle Incident, above) and the General's mansion headquarters also qualify.
  • Sergeant Rock - Big Joe, who is the de facto platoon leader since Maitland is severely incompetent.
  • The Scrounger - Crapgame, even though he seems to be more of a middle-man.
  • Shout-Out - "Get me Hogan in intelligence."
  • Shur Fine Guns - Justified, later subverted. Petuko's machinegun jams at a critical moment during the ambush of the German barracks, since he's firing alone, and doesn't have a loader to guide the ammunition belt. Subverted in that he manages to clear it, just barely in time.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance - Not really in the soundtrack, but 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, among other things, a crew repairing a railroad bridge.
  • Southern-Fried Private - Cowboy
  • 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.
    • Tiger 115. 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).
  • Tempting Fate - "It's a big beautiful bridge, and it's gonna be there." Next scene, the bridge is destroyed.
  • Translation Convention - Averted. Everyone (Americans, Germans, French) speaks their own language.
  • Treasure Room - the inside of the bank
  • World War Two
  • 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 Kelly's Heroes/Fridge page, if you're really interested in it.
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