Lee Marvin is alarmingly at home in The Dirty Dozen. He almost makes its cynical point of view look respectable, not by finding it profound but simply by enjoying himself in a way that amounts to an endorsement. Facing a crop of newbies all eager to go over big — John Cassavetes and Donald Sutherland, for two — he looks as amused by the idea that they can compete with his serene underplaying as an elephant surrounded by chimps. They're all playing murderers and head cases, but to him it's a given that he's more formidably frightening, because he doesn't need to be psychotic to act this way — just to trust his superior acquaintance with how the world works. He sells the movie by finding nothing in it surprising.
"The Big One" by Tom Carson, GQ, April 2005. With fab illo by Tavis Coburn.