This may sound familiar. During WW II the Allied military puts together a mission to attack the Germans in Yugoslavia within a heavily guarded fortress. But unable to find the needed skillsets within the hundreds of thousands of armed forces they maintain, they need to offer pardons to some jailbirds if they are willing to volunteer in a near suicidal mission. While watching the film I was obviously thinking that the director Roger Corman was ripping off a well-known film with a similar plot - but lo and behold this film was made three years before The Dirty Dozen.
Here we have the Dirty Half Dozen. Stewart Granger is the commander and he has in his group Mickey Rooney as an IRA expert in explosives, picking locks and of course drinking since he is Irish, Eddie Kookie Byrnes as the forger, Henry Silva as the dead eyed assassin, Raf Vallone as the thinker and William Campbell who I never figured out what he did and clearly neither did the trailer in which he is not mentioned. His agent must have gotten an earful.
In an interview on the DVD Corman mentioned that this was his first film with a studio - United Artists - but with a fairly small budget. It was shot in Yugoslavia in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik while it was still Communist and having all the Nazis and swastikas around was a sensitive subject.
It takes a while for the film to pick up speed but once the plan is set in motion it gets pretty decent. In films like this a good game to play is to guess which of the good guys will make it to the end credits. I was close but still wrong.