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Similar to The Dirty Dozen, Kelly’s Heroes took aim at the Vietnam War using a satirical lens to view World War II. The film included the all-star cast of Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O'Connor, and Donald Sutherland.
1. The title changed thanks to a TV show.
The original title was The Warriors. Clint Eastwood said, “For some reason The Warriors couldn’t clear or somebody else had the rights to it.” The decision was made to rename it Kelly’s Heroes, a name that Eastwood thought didn’t fit because Hogan’s Heroes, the satirical sitcom about prisoners in a WWII camp, was still on the air. Eastwood felt the marketing purposefully led people at the time to think it was similar to the television series, but on the big screen.
2. The director changed thanks to another film.
Eastwood agreed to the film upon finding out that it would be directed by Don Siegel. However, Siegel dropped out when editing issues arose with Two Mules for Sister Sara, Clint’s previous film (which was actually released the same month as Kelly’s Heroes). As a result, Brain Hutton took the helm, and he had previously worked with Eastwood on Where Eagles Dare.
3. It took longer than expected.
Don Rickles said, “They told me the shoot would take three weeks. It took six months.” The entire shoot actually took eight months and cost 4 million dollars. While filming, Eastwood unpacked original machine guns from their WWII crates and drove vintage jeeps. Rickles enjoyed the experience too and became friends with the cast. However, Don did get shot in the leg with a pellet that required an operation to remove it.