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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Patton

Starring: George C. Scott, Karl Malden
Director: Franklin Schaffner
Rated: PG
RunTime: 171 Minutes
Release Date: January 1970
Genres: Classic, Action, Drama, War

*Also starring: Stephen Young, Michael Strong, Frank Latimore, James Edwards, Lawrence Dobkin, Michael Bates, Tim Considine

Review by Brian Koller
4 stars out of 4

"Patton" is an intelligently written and well-plotted movie that deserved its Academy Awards for "Best Picture" and "Best Actor." It is an outstanding war movie that has its focus not on the soldiers in the trenches, but the generals who control their destinies.

The film follows the career of George Patton (George C. Scott) from early battles against the Germans in North Africa, and later in Italy and in Europe. Patton's biggest battles are not always against the Germans, however. He must compete against generals Montgomery and Bradley for resources and key assignments, and never comprehends that a four-star general must also be a success as a politician.

Movies are inherently fictional, even when based on actual events or personalities. I don't know and don't care how historically accurate this movie is. When discussing Patton, I am referring to his film character. From the little I know about Patton or WWII, the film is authentic enough for me. One minor quibble: Omar Bradley's autobiography was used as a source, and he served as a technical advisor, leading to the Bradley character (Karl Malden) being perhaps too saintly.

Patton is as broad a character a film could hope to have, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an actor. Scott have a supporting role in "Dr. Strangelove", but he will be forever typecast as Patton, as Patton will be forever identified with the actor Scott. Patton is obsessed with military history and achieving battlefield glory. He believes he is reincarnated, with each life participating in the era's greatest battles. He stubbornly refuses to see the growing international obsolescence of the military relative to political and economic alliances.

Perhaps too much is made of Patton's abilities as a general. The audience is led to believe that Patton could have won the European war in a few months if it wasn't for pesky Montgomery trying to steal his glory and supplies. A rare comic relief moment involving Patton's cowardly pedigreed hound doesn't quite work either.

But it is rare that a film character can have so much depth that it can be explored for over two hours with such effectiveness. Also, the tank battles, ancient ruins, and general's housings (they lived well, with a full staff of toadies) have excellent cinematography.

Copyright 1999 Brian Koller

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