Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movie review: Patton

No matter how hard I try, this movie has always put me to sleep. I had to watch it in sections.

George C. Scott is great as the god-fearing soldier-slapping Patton. He's gruff, tough and profane. What I found most interesting, though, was the scene where the Nazis dissected his personality, calling him a 16th century man, who would be confounded by 20th century military strategy.

Great quotes:

"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." Well, yeah.

"...Americans have never lost and will never lose a war." A fascinating quote for two reasons.

First, as Shelby Foote pointed out in Ken Burns' Civil War, "Patton's grandfather was in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, and he certainly lost a war." I would respond to Mr. Foote, Patton's grandfather wasn't an American at the time.

But the second point is the time period in which this movie was released. 1970, America was at war in Vietnam, and things weren't looking all that great. Patton, standing erect and beribboned before an enormous American flag, speaking confidently of inevitable victory was as much as message to the country as to the soldiers sitting in the audience. In fact, we never see those soldiers, we are those soldiers.

Chaplain: "I don't imagine you have time to read the Bible, do you?"
Patton: "Yes I do. Every goddamn day."

"Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!"

It's an interesting character study with good cinemetography.

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