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Patton – 1970

Franklin J. Schaffner

Ladislas Farago (book Patton: Ordeal and Triumph)
Omar N. Bradley (book A Soldier’s Story)
Francis Ford Coppola (screen story)
Edmund H. North (screen story)
Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay)
Edmund H. North (screenplay)

Frank Caffey associate producer
Frank McCarthy producer

George C. Scott – Gen. George S. Patton Jr.
Karl Malden – Gen. Omar N. Bradley
Stephen Young – Capt. Chester B. Hansen
Michael Strong – Brig. Gen. Hobart Carver
Carey Loftin – Gen. Bradley’s driver (as Cary Loftin)
Albert Dumortier – Moroccan Minister
Frank Latimore – Lt. Col. Henry Davenport
Morgan Paull – Capt. Richard N. Jenson
Karl Michael Vogler – Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Bill Hickman – Gen. Patton’s driver
Patrick J. Zurica – 1st Lt. Alexander Stiller
James Edwards – Sgt. William George Meeks
Lawrence Dobkin – Col. Gaston Bell
David Bauer – Lt. Gen. Harry Buford
John Barrie – Air Vice-Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham
Richard Münch – Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl (as Richard Muench)
Siegfried Rauch – Capt. Oskar Steiger
Michael Bates – Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery
Paul Stevens – Lt. Col. Charles R. Codman
Gerald Flood – Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder
Jack Gwillim – Gen. Sir Harold Alexander
Ed Binns – Maj. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith
Peter Barkworth – Col. John Welkin
Lionel Murton – Third Army chaplain
David Healy – Clergyman
Sandy Kevin – Correspondent
Douglas Wilmer – Maj. Gen. Francis de Guingand
John Doucette – Maj. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott
Tim Considine – Soldier who gets slapped
Abraxas Aaran – Willy
Clint Ritchie – Tank captain
Alan MacNaughtan – British briefing officer
Brandon Brady – Lt. Young (uncredited)
Charles Dennis – Soldier (uncredited)
Hellmut Lange – Maj. Dorian von Haarenwege (uncredited)
Harry Morgan – Senator (uncredited)
Bruce Rhodewalt – Cynical wounded soldier (uncredited)

Review by Bill Slocum

The Ultimate Warrior, By George,
Like many Americans, George C. Scott had divided feelings about George S. Patton. In an interview with Rex Reed shortly after “Patton” came out, Scott called the general a homicidal madman. Yet later Scott spoke of his deep admiration for the World War II commander and his warrior mettle, and even returned to play the character again 16 years later in a mawkishly eulogizing TV miniseries, “The Last Days Of Patton.”

Both the great and the nasty Patton are up on the screen in Scott’s original, 1970 portrayal. The result is one of the finest one-man shows in Hollywood history. Just the scowl on his face as he first appears, in front of a giant American flag that sets a scene both patriotic and slyly satirical, is an assay of theatrical command, one that builds by shadings and degrees as the film progresses.

“Patton” derives much of its dramatic tension not from war scenes or arguments, but its central character’s inner turmoil. Patton was a student of military history so enamored of the past he claimed to have been reincarnated “across the travail of ages.” Yet he was also a dynamic tactician of the era’s most advanced form of combat, armored warfare. He could schmooze his superiors in cultured French, but was prone to childish tantrums. He demanded unquestioned loyalty, but had a hard time following orders when his own grabs for glory were overruled.

A lot of the tension here comes from the audience wondering if Patton is going to lose it in this or that scene and blow a chance at the brass ring. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t, and sometimes, as with a speech he innocently delivers to some English ladies, he is undone in a way he can’t be blamed for. Patton is presented to us as a sick man (“by God I love it so” he says of war at one point), but a necessary one, rated so highly by his German opponents that their high command withholds valuable troops from the front thinking Patton’s about to attack them far to the rear in Calais.

Through the first two hours of the three-hour movie, we often see Patton at his worst, for example putting entire regiments in danger just so he can beat Monty to Messina. But the film subtly manipulates us to side with “ole Blood and Guts” despite his faults. When he slaps a soldier, it comes right after a tender moment with Patton decorating a grievously wounded GI. He clashes with his superior Gen. Eisenhower, but the film shows this in the form of arguments between Patton and Ike’s brusque envoy Bedell Smith rather than Eisenhower himself, who had just passed away in 1969 and who would have made a less likely target of audience antipathy.

The last hour is kind of glorious resolution, the “Ordeal and Triumph” which was the title of one of the film’s source books. Patton plows through France and single-handedly wins the Battle of the Bulge for an encore. The fact that this is historically accurate makes it easier to appreciate and rally around, along with Scott’s subtle shadings of humor (he eases back on the gas and lightens up) and a score by Jerry Goldsmith which is one of the great movie themes of its era and should have gotten the film its ninth Oscar.

I’m less sold on the rest of the film, especially the actors around Scott. They are stiff and wooden. A couple are quite bad. The only recognizable actor other than Scott, Karl Malden, plays a stolid and dull counterpart to Patton in Gen. Omar Bradley, too nice to be believable. I guess since the real Bradley was working on the film as “senior military adviser,” it was hard for Malden to play it up more.

Clearly Scott wasn’t likewise inhibited. The result gives us an excuse to sit back and watch one of America’s most gifted actors breathe life into one of its most brilliant and conflicted generals, and offer quiet thanks there are really guys like crazy George steeling the martial mettle of our liberal democracy. You wouldn’t like Patton much if he lived next door to you, but you’d be glad for him in the tank beside your foxhole.

Review by Theo Robertson Patton (1970)

A Strange Combinition Of Good And Bad,
I saw this the same night I saw THE HURRICANE a movie that claims to be a bio-pic on Rubin Carter but which is nothing more than total fabrication . PATTON is an entirely different kettle of fish and while not being entirely accurate ( I’ll come to that later ) does at least have many accurate points.

Undoubtedly the best aspect of the movie is George C Scott who is physically almost identical to George Patton . He captures the arrogant mannerisms of the American general very well and few and far between are movies where a performance like this dominates a movie . Ironically this is a case of where an Oscar for best actor was fully deserved and yet the recipient turned down the honour . There’s also obviously a lot of thought gone into the screenplay as to where to begin and end the story . Do you start when Patton was a child and find out what motivated him to be a soldier ? Do you start when he fought in the American Expidionary force in France 1917-18 ? Do you finish the story with his death ? I think that writers Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H North have got the settings right with starting the story with the immediate aftermath of The Kasserine Pass and finishing the story while Patton was still alive .

The screenplay itself is somewhat knowingly ironic as Patton spouts ” America has never and will never lose a war ” while it was becoming obvious in 1970 there was no way the US were going to be victors in Vietnam . It was a well known fact that Patton despised Monty and much of Patton’s motives were of beating Montgomery as much as the Germans and this might have led to needless deaths of men under Patton’s command . The screenplay while not exactly spelling this out does hint that his dislike of Monty led to Patton’s reckless streak and the audience are left to make up their own mind on this issue . It was also well known that Patton wanted to throw back the Soviets from Eastern Europe ( Monty also had a hatred of communism but was far less vocal about it ) and there are conspiracy theories that the car accident that killed Patton wasn’t an accident at all . Thankfully the screenwriters and producers have absolutely no time for any conspiracy theories of any kind

While being a good movie PATTON fails to be great one simply because niggling little faults creep into the movie like historical inaccuracies . In the aftermath the Germans discuss the battle of Kasserine Pass where ” The Americans were led by the British general Anderson ” Who was Anderson ? The Americans who were badly defeated at the battle were led by American general Lloyd Fredendall without doubt the worst allied general of the war and it was this that led to Patton being appointed to his post . Rommel is portrayed as having the utmost respect for Patton and his American troops but in reality this wasn’t actually the case .

Throughout the war Erwin Rommel had contempt for American equipment ( With good reason since German Panther and Tiger tanks were far superior to the American built Shermans and the same applied to preceding equipment ) and servicemen and counted Monty as his arch nemesis not Patton . Also as with most American war movies made round about this time the tank battles fought between Americans and Germans seem to be composed of both sides using American tanks built in the 1950s

All in all a bio-pic that while being better than many others isn’t flawless but like I said if you want to see how NOT to make a bio-pic watch THE HURRICANE

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