Gli Eroi / The Heroes
Rod Taylor plays Bob Robson in this action/comedy that's known throughout the
world as "The
Heroes," "Los Heros Millonarios," "Die Helden von Afrika," Les
Enfants De Choeur," "Les Heros" and "Heroji."
is most commonly called by its Italian name,
"Gli Eroi," and it fits into a sub-genre known as
Macaroni Combat (the war movie equivalent to Spaghetti Western).
A multinational cast comprises the motley crew of "heroes" chasing
each other -- and 2 million in British currency -- across Northern Africa
during World War II. In addition to the hybrid cast, the movie is also a
mix of guns-and-mortars wartime action and screwball comedy.
In addition to Taylor, who plays a hard-luck gambler-turned-Army lieutenant, the cast includes Rod Steiger (as a German officer), Claude Brasseur
(as Taylor's French -- or is it Italian? -- sidekick/nemesis), Terry-Thomas
(as a British intelligence officer) and Rosanna Schiaffino (as a Greek prostitute/Red
After introductory pre-war vignettes of each of the principal cast members,
the caper begins in earnest when an allied convoy falls into a German ambush.
A loud, violent battle ensues, and the detachment is decimated.
Among the few survivors is Lt. Robson, who finds himself in the uncharacteristic
position of being a hero and being in charge. He also discovers a fortune
in British currency stashed in an ambulance -- money that's intended to
finance an Arab uprising.
But before Robson and company can get away with the spoils, they are
made prisoners by the surviving Nazis. Their odyssey continues deep into
the desert, with the British intelligence officer in pursuit -- of the money.
The film is an off-kilter tale of adventure and attrition
as Nazis and Allies alternately square off and team up to try to make off
with the fortune. And amid explosions, gunfire and sandstorms, Taylor and Brasseur repeatedly provide comic relief.
Stephen Vagg, in his book "Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood," said
that Yul Brynner originally was supposed to star, but when he pulled
out, Rod Steiger too over the role. Rod Taylor then took on the part
meant for Steiger.
Filming took place primarily near Cairo, with some scenes done in
Spain. The movie was released in Italy in 1973 and London in 1974,
but does not appear to have been released in the United States.