Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Franklin J. Schaffner|
|Produced by||Frank McCarthy|
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Cinematography||Fred J. Koenekamp|
|Edited by||Hugh Fowler|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$61.8 million (United States)|
Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical war film about U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a script by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North, who based their screenplay on the biography Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago and Omar Bradley's memoir A Soldier's Story. The film was shot in 65 mm Dimension 150 by cinematographer Fred J. Koenekamp and has a music score by Jerry Goldsmith.
Patton won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Scott won Best Actor for his portrayal of General Patton, but declined to accept the award. The opening monologue, delivered by George C. Scott as General Patton with an enormous American flag behind him, remains an iconic and often quoted image in film. The film was successful, and in 2003, Patton was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". The Academy Film Archive preserved Patton in 2003.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Distribution
- 5 Reaction
- 6 Sequel
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Following the humiliating American defeat at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass in 1943, Patton is placed in charge of the American II Corps in North Africa. Upon his arrival, he immediately starts enforcing discipline among his troops. Patton is then summoned to a meeting with Air Marshal Coningham of the Royal Air Force, where he claims that the American defeat was caused by lack of air cover. Coningham promises Patton that he will see no more German aircraft – but seconds later the compound is strafed by Luftwaffe planes. Patton then defeats a German attack at the Battle of El Guettar; his aide Captain Jenson is killed in the battle, and is replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Codman. Patton is bitterly disappointed to learn that Erwin Rommel, commander of the German-Italian Panzer Army, was on medical leave, but Codman reassures him that: "If you've defeated Rommel's plan, you've defeated Rommel."
After success in the North Africa campaign, Patton and Bernard Montgomery come up with competing plans for the Allied invasion of Sicily. Patton's proposal to land his Seventh Army in the northwest of the island with Montgomery in the southeast (therefore potentially trapping the German and Italian forces in a pincer movement) initially impresses their superior General Alexander, but General Eisenhower rejects it in favor of Montgomery's more cautious plan, which places Patton's army in the southeast, covering Montgomery's flank. While the landing is successful, the Allied forces become bogged down, causing Patton to defy orders and advance northwest to Palermo, and then to the port of Messina in the northeast, narrowly beating Montgomery to the prize, although several thousand German and Italian troops are able to flee the island. Patton insists that his feud with Montgomery is due to the latter's determination to be the "war hero," and to deny the Americans any chance of glory. However, his actions do not sit well with his subordinates Bradley and Lucian Truscott.
While on a visit to a field hospital, Patton notices a shell-shocked soldier crying. Calling him a coward, Patton slaps the soldier and even threatens to shoot him, before demanding his immediate return to the front line. Patton is relieved of command and, by order of Eisenhower, forced to apologize to the soldier, others present, and to his entire command. As a result, he is also sidelined during the D-Day landings in 1944, being placed in command of the decoy phantom First United States Army Group in southeast England. German General Alfred Jodl is convinced that Patton will lead the invasion of Europe.
After begging his former subordinate Bradley for a command before the war ends, Patton is placed under him in command of the Third Army and performs brilliantly by rapidly advancing through France, but his tanks are brought to a standstill when they run out of fuel – the supplies being allocated to Montgomery's bold Operation Market Garden, much to his fury. Later, during the Battle of the Bulge, Patton brilliantly relieves the town of Bastogne and then smashes through the Siegfried Line and into Germany.
At a war drive in Knutsford, England, General Patton remarks that the United States and the United Kingdom would dominate the post-war world, viewed as an insult to the Soviet Union. After Germany capitulates, Patton directly insults a Russian general at a dinner; the Russian insults Patton right back, much to Patton's amusement. Patton then makes an offhand remark comparing the Nazi Party to American political parties. Ultimately, Patton's outspokenness loses him his command once again, though he is kept on to see to the rebuilding of Germany, where a runaway oxcart narrowly misses him.
Finally, Patton is seen walking Willie, his bull terrier, across the German countryside. Patton's voice is heard relating that a returning hero of ancient Rome was honored with a "triumph," a victory parade in which "a slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory ... is fleeting."
- George C. Scott as Major General George S. Patton. (Rod Steiger had first turned down the role, later admitting that it was the worst decision of his career.)
- Karl Malden as Major General Omar N. Bradley
- Michael Bates as General Bernard Montgomery
- Edward Binns as Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith
- Lawrence Dobkin as Colonel Gaston Bell
- John Doucette as Major General Lucian Truscott
- James Edwards as Sergeant William George Meeks
- Frank Latimore as Lieutenant Colonel Henry Davenport
- Richard Münch as Colonel General Alfred Jodl
- Morgan Paull as Captain Richard N. Jenson
- Siegfried Rauch as Captain Oskar Steiger
- Paul Stevens as Lieutenant Colonel Charles R. Codman
- Michael Strong as Brigadier General Hobart Carver
- Karl Michael Vogler as Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
- Stephen Young as Captain Chester B. Hansen
- Peter Barkworth as Colonel John Welkin
- John Barrie as Air Vice-Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham
- David Bauer as Lieutenant General Harry Buford
- Gerald Flood as Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder
- Jack Gwillim as General Sir Harold Alexander
Attempts to make a film about the life of Patton had been ongoing for over fifteen years, commencing in 1953. Eventually, the Patton family was approached by the producers for help in making the film. The filmmakers desired access to Patton's diaries, as well as input from family members. However, the producers contacted the family the day after Beatrice Ayer Patton, the general's widow, was buried, and the family refused to provide any assistance to the film's producers.
In the end, screenwriters Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North wrote the script based largely on the biographies Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago and A Soldier's Story by General of the Army Omar Bradley.
Bradley served as a consultant for the film though the extent of his influence and input into the final script is largely unknown. While Bradley knew Patton personally, it was also well-known that the two men were polar opposites in personality, and there is evidence to conclude that Bradley despised Patton, both personally and professionally. As the film was made without access to General Patton's diaries, it largely relied upon observations by Bradley and other military contemporaries when they attempted to reconstruct Patton's thoughts and motives. In a review of the film, Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall, who knew both Patton and Bradley, stated, "The Bradley name gets heavy billing on a picture of [a] comrade that, while not caricature, is the likeness of a victorious, glory-seeking buffoon.... Patton in the flesh was an enigma. He so stays in the film.... Napoleon once said that the art of the general is not strategy but knowing how to mold human nature.... Maybe that is all producer Frank McCarthy and Gen. Bradley, his chief advisor, are trying to say."
The film opens with Scott's rendering of Patton's speech to the Third Army, set against a huge American flag. Coppola and North had to tone down Patton's actual words and statements in the scene, as well as throughout the rest of the film, to avoid an R rating; in the opening monologue, the word fornicating replaced fucking when he was criticizing The Saturday Evening Post. Also, Scott's gravelly and scratchy voice is the opposite of Patton's high-pitched, nasal and somewhat squeaky voice, a point noted by historian S.L.A. Marshall. However, Marshall also points out that the film contains "too much cursing and obscenity [by Patton]. Patton was not habitually foul-mouthed. He used dirty words when he thought they were needed to impress."
When Scott learned that the speech would open the film, he refused to do it, as he believed that it would overshadow the rest of his performance. Director Schaffner assured him that it would be shown at the end. The scene was shot in one afternoon at Sevilla Studios in Madrid, with the flag having been painted on the back of the stage wall.
All the medals and decorations shown on Patton's uniform in the monologue are replicas of those actually awarded to Patton. However, the general never wore all of them in public and was in any case not a four-star general at the time he made the famous speeches on which the opening is based. He wore them all on only one occasion, in his backyard in Virginia at the request of his wife, who wanted a picture of him with all his medals. The producers used a copy of this photo to help recreate this "look" for the opening scene.
Most of the film was shot in Spain. One scene, which depicts Patton driving up to an ancient city that is implied to be Carthage, was shot in the ancient Roman city of Volubilis, Morocco. The early scene, where Patton and Muhammed V are reviewing Moroccan troops including the Goumiers, was shot at the Royal Palace in Rabat. One unannounced battle scene was shot the night before, which raised fears in the Royal Palace neighborhood of a coup d'état. One paratrooper was electrocuted in power lines, but none of this battle footage appears in the film. The scene at the dedication of the welcome centre in Knutsford, Cheshire, England, was filmed at the actual site. The scenes set in Africa and Sicily were shot in the south of Spain (Almeria), while the winter scenes in Belgium were shot near Segovia (to which the production crew rushed when they were informed that snow had fallen).
It has been noted that in the scene where Patton arrives to establish his North African command, a supposedly "Arab" woman is selling "pollos y gallinas" (chickens and hens) in Spanish, which is not normally spoken by local people in Tunisia (though it is in the north of Morocco, Spanish Protectorate from 1912 to 1956).
Use of footage
A sizeable amount of battle scene footage was left out of the final cut of Patton, but a use was soon found for it. Outtakes from Patton were used to provide battle scenes in the made-for-TV film Fireball Forward, which was first broadcast in 1972. The film was produced by Patton producer Frank McCarthy and Edmund North wrote the screenplay. One of the cast members of Patton, Morgan Paull, appeared in this production.
The critically acclaimed score for Patton was composed and conducted by the prolific composer Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith used a number of innovative methods to tie the music to the film, such as having an echoplex loop recorded sounds of "call to war" triplets played on the trumpet to musically represent General Patton's belief in reincarnation. The main theme also consisted of a symphonic march accompanied by a pipe organ to represent the militaristic yet deeply religious nature of the protagonist. The music to Patton subsequently earned Goldsmith an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score and was one of the American Film Institute's 250 nominees for the top twenty-five American film scores. The original soundtrack has been released three times on disc and once on LP: through Twentieth-Century Fox Records in 1970, Tsunami Records in 1992, Film Score Monthly in 1999, and a two-disc extended version through Intrada Records in 2010.
2010 Intrada Records Album
|Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|1.||"Patton Salute (Solo Bugle)"||0:44|
|5.||"The First Battle"||2:50|
|13.||"An Eloquent Man"||1:43|
|15.||"A Change Of Weather"||1:23|
|Original 1970 Score Album|
|1.||"Patton Speech (spoken by George C. Scott)"||4:54|
|4.||"The First Battle"||2:48|
|13.||"End Title & Speech (spoken by George C. Scott)"||1:01|
|14.||"End Title (sans dialogue)"||1:11|
Patton was first telecast by ABC-TV as a three hours-plus color film special in the fall of 1972, only two years after its theatrical release. That was highly unusual at the time, especially for a roadshow theatrical release, which had played in theatres for many months. Most theatrical films at that time had to wait at least five years for their first telecast. Another unusual element of the telecast was that almost none of Patton's profanity-laced dialogue was cut (only two sentences, one of which contained no profanity, were cut from the famous opening speech in front of the giant US flag).
In 1977, Patton was among the first 50 VHS and Betamax releases from Magnetic Video. The film would be released on Laserdisc in 1981, also by Magnetic Video. A widescreen version was released in 1989, which includes four newsreels about the real Patton. A THX-certified Laserdisc would be released on July 9, 1997, trading the newsreels for many new features.
Patton was first released on DVD in 1999, featuring a partial audio commentary by a Patton historian, and again in 2006, with a commentary by screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola and extra bonus features.
The film made its Region A (locked) Blu-ray debut in 2008 to much criticism, for its excessive use of digital noise reduction on the picture quality. In 2012, a remaster was released with much improved picture quality. In June 2013, Fox UK released the film on Region B Blu-ray but reverted to the 2008 transfer.
Roger Ebert said of George C. Scott, "It is one of those sublime performances in which the personalities of the actor and the character are fulfilled in one another." Online film critic James Berardinelli has called Patton his favorite film of all time and "to this day one of Hollywood's most compelling biographical war pictures."
According to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's book The Final Days, it was also Richard Nixon's favorite film. He screened it several times at the White House and during a cruise on the Presidential yacht. Before the 1972 Nixon visit to China, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai watched this film in preparation for his meeting with Nixon.
Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 95% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 44 reviews, with an average score of 8.4/10. Rotten Tomatoes summarizes the critical consensus as, "George C. Scott's sympathetic, unflinching portrayal of the titular general in this sprawling epic is as definitive as any performance in the history of American biopics."
In 1971, Scott's performance won him an Academy Award for Best Actor at the 43rd Academy Awards. He famously refused to accept it, citing a dislike of the voting process and the concept of acting competitions. He was the first actor to do so.
The film won six additional Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound (Douglas Williams and Don Bassman), and Best Art Direction (Art Direction: Urie McCleary and Gil Parrondo; Set Decoration: Antonio Mateos and Pierre-Louis Thévenet). The Best Picture Oscar is on display at the George C. Marshall Museum at the Virginia Military Institute, courtesy of Frank McCarthy.
American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – #89
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- George S. Patton – #29 Hero
A made-for-television sequel, The Last Days of Patton, was produced in 1986. Scott reprised his title role. The film was based on Patton's final weeks after being mortally injured in a car accident, with flashbacks of Patton's life.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p256
- "Patton, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- TotalFilm. "Review of Patton". Archived from the original on July 5, 2011. Retrieved 2006-04-24.
- Rabin, Nathan (May 24, 2006). "Patton". AV Club. Archived from the original on February 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
- "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
- Cornwell, Rupert (2002-07-10). "Rod Steiger, 'brooding and volatile' Hollywood tough guy for more than 50 years, dies aged 77". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-05-21.
- Travers, Steven (2014). The Duke, the Longhorns, and Chairman Mao: John Wayne's Political Odyssey. Taylor Trade Publishing. OCLC 857277430.
- D'Este, Carlo (1995). Patton: A Genius For War. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 466–467. ISBN 0-06-016455-7.
- D'Este, Carlo (2002). Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life. New York: Henry Holt & Co. pp. 403–404.
- Marshall, S.L.A. (March 21, 1970). "Great Georgie Redone". The Charleston Gazette. 4: 4.
- ≠°Travers, Steven. The Duke, the Longhorns, and Chairman Mao: John Wayne's Political Odyssey."
- Mitchell, George J. (1975). "The Photography of Patton". After the Battle (7): 38–43.
- Mitchell, George J. "The Photography of "Patton"". in70mm.com.
- "Fireball Forward - Rotten Tomatoes". Flixster, Inc. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Clemmensen, Christian. Patton soundtrack review at Filmtracks.com. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
- AFI's 100 Years Of Film Scores Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine. from the American Film Institute. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
- "Patton". Intrada Records. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
- Maxwell, Barrie (November 8, 2012). "Patton (Remastered)". The Digital Bits.
- Roger Ebert (March 17, 2002). "Patton (1970)". rogerebert.com. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
- "#1: Patton". reelviews.net.
- James Berardinelli. "Patton". reelviews.net. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
- "Patton". RottenTomatoes.com. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- Purtell, Tim (April 16, 1993). "1971: George C. Patton said no to Oscar". Entertainment Weekly.
- "The 43rd Academy Awards (1971) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-27.
- "NY Times: Patton". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
- In 2005, Patton's wife's "Button Box" manuscript was finally released by his family, with the posthumous release of Ruth Ellen Patton Totten's book, The Button Box: A Daughter's Loving Memoir of Mrs. George S. Patton.Taylor, John M.; Taylor, Priscilla S. (July 23, 2005). "Gen. Patton's wife, a New York citizen". The Washington Times.
- Suid, Lawrence H. (2002). Guts & Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 260–278. ISBN 9780813190181. Suid's book contains an extended discussion of the production of Patton and of public and critical response to the film; the discussion occupies most of the chapter, "13. John Wayne, The Green Berets, and Other Heroes".
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