Patton is 1970 biographical film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a script from screen legends Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North. It details the career of US General George S. Patton and follows him through his successful North Africans campaign, his rivalry with British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the liberation of Sicily, his humiliation at being sidelined for the invasion of Normandy, and his redemption as he drives the Third Army through France and into Germany.
The biopic opens with General Patton (George C. Scott) delivering a rousing speech to an unseen group of soldiers, reminding them that it is in the United States’ nature to win wars.
The movie then shows the aftermath of defeat at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass in 1943 on the African front. The US and the British are up against legendary Nazi German Officer Erwin Rommel (Karl Michael Vogler), Commander of the German-Italian Panzer Army, a brilliant tactician. General Patton is appointed command of the American II Corp in North Africa and is immediately disappointed by the lack of discipline in the division. He places stricter rules on the troops and officers, hoping to rouse them into action. His harsh tactics earn him the ire of command and his friend Major General Omar N. Bradley (Karl Malden).
Patton is one of the best World War II biopics. There have been many, but the way George C. Scott portrays this iconic figure in American history is incredible and masterful. While the supporting cast is excellent, Scott truly carries the film. You empathize with every aspect of his character and you seem drawn to his character. It is impressive and with all the talent behind it, not surprising. There is little more that I can say that other reviewers and critics have not said already.
My one qualm with the film is in between the opening speech and the Patton taking over North Africa, there is a long set-up for his epic takeover of the division where the characters discuss Patton and the role he will play. It is a common flaw I’ve seen in many biopics.
Outside of that, the depiction of the harsh conditions of war, as well as the sad politics that come into play, even in a World War. Patton’s growing frustration with his desire to be a glorious warrior and the political ambitions of his competition is a serious driver of this brilliant film. While the whole cast is impressive, George C. Scott is truly the powerhouse performance in the movie. He has a commanding presence that you cannot avoid applauding.
Bottom line, Patton is a classic in every sense of the word. It is captivating, enthralling, and shines a light on a real man who, though imperfect, helped to win one of the greatest wars our world has ever seen.
FAVORITE QUOTE: “A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory … is fleeting.”
PARENTAL CONCERNS: War violence, foul language
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This article has been updated from a previous version.