|Directed by||Franklin J. Schaffner|
|Produced by||Frank McCarthy|
|Screenplay by||Francis Ford Coppola
Edmund H. North
|Based on||Patton: Ordeal and Triumph
by Ladislas Farago A Soldier's Story
by Omar Bradley
|Starring||George C. Scott
Karl Michael Vogler
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Cinematography||Fred J. Koenekamp|
|Edited by||Hugh S. 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 65mm Dimension 150 by cinematographer Fred J. Koenekamp and has a music score by Jerry Goldsmith.
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".
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Distribution
- 5 Reaction
- 6 Sequel
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The film's beginning has General George S. Patton (George C. Scott) giving a speech to an unseen audience of American troops (based on his speech to the Third Army), with a huge American flag in the background. The scene then shifts to North Africa at the start of 1943, where Patton takes charge of the demoralized American II Corps in North Africa after the humiliating defeat at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass. After instilling discipline in his soldiers, he leads them to victory at the Battle of El Guettar, the first American victory over the Axis, though he is bitterly disappointed to learn afterward that Erwin Rommel (Karl Michael Vogler), whom he respects greatly as a general, was not his opponent. Patton's aide, Captain Jenson, is killed in the battle. Shortly after the battle, a new member of his staff, Lieutenant Colonel Codman assures Patton that, though Rommel was absent, that if Patton defeated Rommel's plan, then he had defeated Rommel.
Patton is shown to believe in reincarnation, while remaining a devout Christian. At one point during the North Africa campaign, he takes his staff on an unexpected detour to the site of the ancient Battle of Zama. There he reminisces about the battle, insisting to his second in command, General Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) that he was there.
After North Africa is secured, Patton is involved in the Allied invasion of Sicily. His proposal to land his Seventh Army in the northwest of the island is rejected in favor of the more cautious plan of British General Bernard Law Montgomery, in which the British and American armies are to land side-by-side in the southeast. Frustrated at the slow progress of the campaign, Patton defies orders, racing northwest to capture the city of Palermo and then narrowly beats Montgomery in a race to capture the port of Messina in the northeast. However, Patton's aggression is regarded with increasing disquiet by his subordinates Bradley and Lucian Truscott, and he is eventually relieved of command for slapping and threatening to shoot a shell-shocked soldier, whom he accuses of cowardice, in an Army hospital. He was ordered to apologize to the soldier he slapped and all of those in the tent at the time by Eisenhower (who is never seen onscreen). Patton took it further by apologizing to his entire command.
For this incident and for his tendency to speak his mind to the press, he is sidelined during the long-anticipated D-Day landings, being placed in command of the fictional First United States Army Group in southeast England as a decoy. German General Alfred Jodl (Richard Münch) is convinced that Patton will lead the invasion of Europe.
Fearing he will miss out on his destiny, he begs Bradley, now promoted over him (due to Patton's 'exile' following the slapping incident), for a command before the war ends. He is given the Third Army by Eisenhower and distinguishes himself by rapidly sweeping across France until his tanks are halted by lack of fuel. He later relieves the vital town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. He then smashes through the Siegfried Line and drives into Germany itself.
Patton has previously remarked to a British crowd that the United States and Great Britain would dominate the post-war world, which is viewed as a slight to the Russians. After the Germans capitulate, he insults a Russian officer at a celebration; fortunately, the Russian insults Patton right back, defusing the situation. Patton then makes an offhand remark comparing the Nazi Party to the political parties in the US. In the end, Patton's outspokenness loses him his command once again, though he is kept on to see to the rebuilding of Germany, with the disconcerting incident of a runaway ox-cart narrowly missing Patton foreshadowing the general's ignominious actual death in a car accident in December 1945.
The film ends with Patton walking his dog, a bull terrier named Willie, and Scott relating in a voice over 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 (later Lieutenant General, then 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 (later Lieutenant General, then General) Omar N. Bradley
- Michael Bates as General (later Field Marshal) Bernard Montgomery
- Edward Binns as Lieutenant General (later 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 (later Major) Oskar Steiger
- Paul Stevens as Lieutenant Colonel (later 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 (later Air Marshal) Sir Arthur Coningham
- David Bauer as Lieutenant General Harry Buford
- Tim Considine as Private First Class Charles Kuhl
- Albert Dumortier as Moroccan minister (voiced by Paul Frees)
- Gerald Flood as Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder
- Jack Gwillim as General (later Field Marshal) Sir Harold Alexander
- David Healy as Clergyman
- Bill Hickman as Patton's driver
- Sandy McPeak as War correspondent (credited as Sandy Kevin)
- Cary Loftin as Bradley's driver
- Alan MacNaughtan as British briefing officer
- Lionel Murton as Chaplain James Hugh O'Neill
- Clint Ritchie as Tank captain
- Douglas Wilmer as Major-General Freddie de Guingand
- Patrick J. Zurica as First Lieutenant Alexander Stiller
- Abraxas Aaran as Willy
- Florencio Ararilla as Soldier (uncredited)
- Brandon Brady as Lieutenant Young (uncredited)
- Charles Dennis as Soldier (uncredited)
- Paul Frees as Reporter No. 2 (voice/uncredited)
- Dolores Judson as Knutsford Welcome Club Dignitary (uncredited)
- Lowell Thomas as Himself-Movietone News Narrator (voice/uncredited)
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, by unfortunate coincidence, the producers contacted the family the day after Beatrice Ayer Patton, the general's widow, was laid to rest. After this encounter, 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." Although reference is made to Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower throughout the film, he is not portrayed on screen. At the time of production, Eisenhower was still alive, but he died in March 1969, before the film was released.
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. Also, a scene, at the dedication of the welcome center 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 Academy Award 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).
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 specially 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."
Scott's performance won him an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1971. He famously refused to accept it, citing a dislike of the voting and even the actual 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, Don Bassman), and Best Art Direction (Urie McCleary, Gil Parrondo, Antonio Mateos, 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:
- General George S. Patton - #29 Hero
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "Now, I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Epic film
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.
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- D'Este, Carlo (2002). Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life. New York: Henry Holt & Co. pp. 403–404.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Marshall, S.L.A. (March 21, 1970). "Great Georgie Redone". The Charleston Gazette. 4: 4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- ≠°Travers, Steven. The Duke, the Longhorns, and Chairman Mao: John Wayne's Political Odyssey."
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- 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Suid, Lawrence H. (2002). Guts & Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 260–278. ISBN 9780813190181.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> 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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