Patton (1970)

“Patton” tells the tale of General George S. Patton, famous tank commander of World War II. The film begins with Patton’s career in North Africa and progresses through the invasion of Europe and the fall of the Third Reich. Side plots also speak of Patton’s numerous faults such his temper and tendency toward insubordination, faults that would prevent him from becoming the lead American general in the Normandy Invasion as well as to his being relieved as Occupation Commander of Germany.

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The Classic War Movie

24 June 2004 | by nabor7 (Texas) – See all my reviews

Not much can be said of this movie that already hasn’t been said. It captures the war, the man, and the conflict of the two. I thought the movie was very nicely tied together and I thought the reflections of Patton on the past was very necessary. Patton believed in reincarnation so in looking back at historical battles you can see how Patton developed his strategy. He was a student of great leaders and commanders and the movie developed that thought really well. The movie presented the characters, the actual war history, and the Germans extremely well and it is no wonder this movie received the awards it did. After watching this movie over and over again, I’m convinced that no one could have played Patton any better than George C. Scott. You can tell from the movie that he put everything he had into the character. My father-in-law was an officer under Patton in the 3rd. Army and has said over and again how realistic the movie is. I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for an excellent re-telling of WWII history.

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Fascinating portrait of the Allies’ greatest general

9/10
Author: Daniel R. Baker from United States
8 September 1999

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reading “The Patton Papers,” a collection of Gen. Patton’s diary entries and letters edited by Martin Blumenson. Having seen the movie, I think that no actor has ever better captured the spirit of a man better than George C. Scott, nor has any movie better portrayed that spirit than PATTON.

Patton was a man who lived for war. World War II was the high point and culmination of his life. He didn’t fight for any principles, he didn’t fight to defend freedom or democracy or any abstract idea; he fought because he loved fighting. In his diaries you can read of his fear of flunking out of West Point; the prospect terrified him because he was certain that he would never be good at anything except being a general or a leader of a country.

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As a leader of men, he was exceptional. His speech at the beginning of the movie is vintage Patton, an almost exact reproduction of a speech Patton actually gave to Third Army. It’s tough, and no-nonsense; Patton lets you know in no uncertain terms that he is here to win, to destroy the enemy, and by God you’d better be too. I don’t know if Patton actually directed traffic on the roads as he is shown doing in the movie, but it was a very Pattonish thing to do. Patton did on at least one occasion get out of his staff car and join a squad of G.I.’s in heaving a vehicle out of the mud. Try to imagine Montgomery doing that; the very thought is hilarious!

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Patton’s character explains his treatment of his men. To those who had been wounded fighting for him he was always kind and considerate. But to those whose minds could not stand the horrible strain that war imposed on them, he was merciless; he could not comprehend the fact that other people didn’t share his love of violence for violence’ sake. PATTON shows this aspect of his character very well.

Karl Malden’s Omar Bradley is shown in an almost father-like role; he sees and recognizes Patton’s immense talents as a general, and uses them in spite of Patton’s natural ability to antagonize everybody around him. Not shown in the movie is Patton’s unloveable characteristic of turning on his subordinates once they surpassed him in their careers. Patton had nothing but good to say about Bradley, until Bradley was promoted over Patton’s head, whereupon Patton savaged Bradley in his diary. Patton did the same to Eisenhower.

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A general can have no higher compliment than the fear and respect of his adversaries, and as PATTON demonstrates, Patton was more feared by the Germans than any other Allied general, at least on the Western front. As one German officer observes all too prophetically, “the absence of war will destroy him [Patton].” And although mankind’s single greatest stroke of good fortune in the 20th century was that Russia and America never came to blows, it is still hard not to feel sorry for Patton as he desperately seeks his superiors’ approval to carry the war on eastward into the Soviet Union – anything, just to have a war to fight. Patton is like an addict to a destructive drug.

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Hollywood has rarely given us such a textured and human portrait of a great man: cruel, often foolish in his relations with others, rude, and psychopathically attached to violence, but brave, dedicated, and loyal. Certainly those who, like myself, have Jewish blood, or who were otherwise marked for death by the Nazi state, all owe him a great debt of gratitude for his pivotal role in destroying that state. And yet, had he been born German, Patton would surely have fought just as devotedly for the Nazi side. I’m glad he wasn’t.

Favorite war film . . .

Author: jaywolfenstien from USA
2 December 2003

. . . and it’s not even about the war. There’s no wall to wall action. In fact, World War II is merely the setting – a backdrop so to speak – and the battles are all downplayed in favor of giving the audience a glimpse into the brilliance (or insanity) of the historically significant character, Patton. From the script on up, everything plays out wonderfully to bring the famous general to life on screen, and after watching George C. Scott deliver his Oscar-worthy performance, I find it hard to believe there were a number of actors on the list above his name.

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George C. Scott’s performance of Patton is one I consider the greatest given of any war film. Patton is a champion for freedom while sometimes equally as much of a tyrant as the ones he’s trying to put down, he’s a monster and a hero, and neither he nor the filmmakers give a damn about political correctness. I found the character to be an overly harsh prick, myself, but in some strange way, very likeable and sympathetic, and when watching the movie again I don’t look at the screen and say, `Hey, there’s George C. Scott.’ Instead it’s, `Hey, there’s Patton.’ Not very many film characters have a personality strong enough to overtake the actor playing them. I appreciate that depth and that degree of realism, this attention to detail on the parts of Scott and Schaffner.

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Schaffner surprised me by somehow managing to capture my interest on a subject matter I’d ordinarily write off as too silly (Planet of the Apes); two years later, he applied that same technical know how, craft, and intelligent storytelling towards a film whose subject appeals to me from the get go, and once again I’m impressed. There are some great war films out today; however, Schaffner’s take pursued the most unique perspective in all realms, and captured my imagination with such ease . . . I can’t help but come back to it over other war films.

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And I have to comment on the score, which is not only one of my favorite Goldsmith scores but also one of my favorite war-film scores. Jerry Goldsmith matched point for point the brilliance of Franklin Schaffner’s vision, the depth of George C. Scott’s performance, and somehow managed to captured the essence of both musically. A good music score is one that tells the story of the film in its own unique voice. Goldsmith’s score has such a prominent voice in the experience of Patton, that to remove it would be the equivalent of removing Schaffner’s direction or George C. Scott.

Lastly, how accurate is the film? Not a clue, and even if it is completely false, I don’t care. I’ve never been about writing history papers based on cinema experiences. All I know for certain is that Patton is a very entertaining and well balanced movie that holds up very well thirty years later, and it’s a film that can be admired for its craft.

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When the going gets tough, they call for the sons of bitches”…Adm. Ernest King

Author: Puck-20 from Bannana Republic
5 November 2003
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Patton is a movie about a man who on one hand was one of America’s greatest generals, and on the other hand was only marginally saner than Gen. Jack D. Ripper. According to several vets I got to talk to (who actually served under the real Patton!), George C. Scott’s portrayal was spot-on. A few observations on the movie: Even when I was a kid, seeing Patton when it came out in 1970, I was suspicious of the tanks used in that battle scene in North Africa. Even then, they didn’t look like the classic German tanks…Patton’s speech in the beginning of the movie was edited for content. If you ever read the original version of his speech, it makes the movie version sound like a church sermon.

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I also wished that the movie had pointed out that in WW1, Patton commanded the first ever American tank battalion, and was severely wounded in battle, yet kept fighting until he just about passed out from loss of blood. I thought this should have been brought out that he had practiced what he preached… Gen. Omar Bradley: portrayed in the movie as Patton’s “buddy”, he was nothing of the sort. Jealous of Patton, the real life Bradley would go to Eisenhower behind Patton’s back to stymie George’s success.

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Monty: Sorry, Monty fans, but the movie points out one historical fact. Monty usurped needed gas and supplies from Patton in September of ’44 for his disastrous “Market Garden” attack (watch Richard Attenborough’s “A Bridge Too Far” as a companion movie to “Patton”). Thanks to Monty, the war went on much longer than it probably would have if Patton had been allowed to drive into Germany. Patton’s arrogance helped win battles. Monty’s arrogance gave us the Battle of the Bulge, the fire bombing of Dresden, not to mention countless Jewish lives lost. Patton had the Germans reeling in the fall of 1944, and, as the movie pointed out, had the army in just the right place at the right time to end it. Unfortunately, thanks to Monty’s political pull and crappy generalmanship, the war went on longer than it should have…

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A fine epic about a “pure warrior.”

10/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
21 October 2002
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The war epic was revived with Franklin Schaffner’s admirable ‘Patton.’ Schaffner’s control of his film is impressive, and the various campaign sequences are strikingly photographed through an audaciously wide lens…

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George C. Scott was commonly referred to as a ‘character actor’ in view of his remarkably extensive range… Oddly for a character actor, Scott was almost always the same person on screen vigorous to the point of pugnacity, acting with his chin the way other actors do with their eyes-yet revealing, in his own eyes, unsuspected depths of humor and intelligence…

Now few actors have ever been so convincing in such a powerful and colorful character… Only Peter 0’Toole’s eccentric T.E. Lawrence comes immediately to mind… Both, he and Scott, create their characters out of complementary contradictions… Lawrence detests the savagery of war but embraces it… Patton cannot separate the conduct of war from his own personal glorification, and both actors are given large canvases upon which to work…

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Screenwriters Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North and director Franklin J. Schaffner introduce a 16th-century warrior lost in contemporary times… He is a brilliant and military historian, with a hazardous speech…

Magnificently uniformed, and wearing his ivory-handled pistol, George S. Patton steps up, against a backdrop of the Stars and Stripes, before an unseen gathering of soldiers defining himself in unambiguous terms as a man who revels in war… The scene is cut to a close shot of two scorpions crawling across the body of a dead soldier at the Kasserine Pass, Tunisia… The camera then pulls back to reveal a harsh look at American casualties with dozens of Arabs busily stripping more bodies…

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The American Army has just suffered its first defeat at the hands of the Germans… Patton’s first job is to restore the morale and discipline of the dispirited troops of his new command… His experience with tanks led General Dwight Eisenhower to place him in charge of one of the three task forces invading North Africa in 1943…

According to his theory of war, Patton would drive all the way to Palermo on the northern coast of Sicily, slicing the island in half… But his finest moment comes during the massive German counteroffensive in the Ardennes… By the time the Germans feared him above all other Allied generals…

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Schaffner turns to the Germans for comments on Patton’s abilities… They expect him to lead a major invasion… When he was sent to Corsica, the Germans were convinced he would lead an invasion of southern France… When he was sent to Cairo, they feared for an invasion through the Balkans…

Patton is seen reprimanded by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for indiscreet political statements… As an able tactician who promotes himself to three-star general before it’s officially approved by the U.S. Senate, Patton proves himself as the most effective American field commander of the European war… Behind his audacity lay an imaginative planning and a shrewd judgment… Patton knows that loyalty to a leader would inspire his men to take on objectives against all odds… His strict discipline, toughness, and disregard of classic military rules, contributed to his advance across France and Germany…

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The modest and conscientious Omar Bradley, commander of the U.S. 12th Army Group, who had served under Patton in Africa and Sicily as a deputy commander, found Patton to be a superb combat general, but hotheaded, profane, and unpredictable… Bradley ends now as Patton’s superior… It was soon apparent that the two make a superb team… Patton’s dash and drive in the field is a perfect complement to Bradley’s careful planning…

With the help of Bradley, Patton prepares to re-engage German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel… After he defeats Rommel’s 10th Panzer Division at El Guettar thanks to his analysis of Rommel’s published strategies, he shouts one of the greatest lines in war films: “Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!” At the same time, his rivalry with his Field Marshal Montgomery (hero of El Alamein) becomes more intense… Patton was motivated by a pride to reach his target before his British colleague, sometimes not for the purpose of the Allies…

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Karl Malden has the film’s only other significant leading role, as the most capable, yet unpretentious general… Malden could be deduced from the number of major directors with whom he has worked… These include Cukor, Hathaway, Kazan, King, Preminger, Milestone, Vidor, Hitchcock, Brooks, Mulligan, Daves, Brando, Frankenheimer, Ford, Quine and Schaffner… In his best and most personal work he has succeeded in exploring depths of moral ambiguity rare in commercial cinema…

Schaffner illuminates various sides of Patton’s remarkable personality, presenting a dashing extrovert and attractive general, with a compassionate side…

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Touring an evacuation hospital in Sicily, Patton slaps an enlisted soldier twice calling him a ‘yellow,’ and threatens to shoot him, before two men forcibly remove him from the tent… The incident occurs because Patton’s views of bravery and cowardice are so severely limited… The fighting general who has the imagination to write poetry and to believe that he has been reincarnated, in ancient Greece, at Carthage, and Moscow, cannot conceive of a psychological wound that he cannot see… The incident occurred after he prays at the bedside of one man severely injured… Patton whispers some words in his ear which the audience doesn’t hear, then lays a medal on his pillow and gives him a gentle touch on his head… The portrait is so compelling that it’s easy to overlook Patton’s own final words in the film, “All glory is fleeting.”

Franklin J. Schaffner’s motion picture reveals an effective portrait of three men: Patton, Bradley, and the unseen Dwight Eisenhower… The film is a fine epic about ‘a pure warrior, and a magnificent anachronism,’ who loved war…

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The Academy Awards saluted ‘Patton’ capturing eight Oscars, including best picture, best director, best actor (Scott declined his well deserved Oscar), best screenplay, best editing, and best production design…

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