Anthony's Film Review

Patton (1970)

Both the lead actor and the main character are fascinating to watch in this war epic...

Patton, a World War II movie released in 1970, is a great example of how the star and his role are both very important. It's one thing to have a great actor playing a character, but if that character isn't all that unique, one might skip the movie. Same for a movie where the central character is worth putting on the big screen, but that character is played by a mediocre actor. You need both a strong actor and a strong character to make a strong movie. Patton is this kind of movie because of actor George C. Scott as General George S. Patton Jr., both of whom are worth seeing.

For me, this impression was already set in stone in the film's first scene, which is simple yet effective. Basically, you see a giant American flag for a few moments. Patton appears on screen in front of this flag, walking towards the camera as if you're part of the unseen audience of military personnel he's about to address. Then he begins his monologue about what he believes is necessary to win a war. Scott's performance here is so well done that you can't tell him apart from the real General Patton. A cinemaphile who is curious about George C. Scott and a military historian curious about George S. Patton can watch this scene with equal enthusiasm. (It's probably no coincidence that their first names are identical.)

As you may have guessed by now, Patton is primarily a character film, a portrayal of the general's brilliance in wartime strategy as well as his harsh attitude. It's not a complete biography of General Patton that illustrates the origin of his behavior and his entire military career. Rather, it's about the person he had ultimately become and how he handled battles in Africa, the Mediterranean, and Europe. In other words, the peak of his career, which is what an analysis of Patton's persona should really focus on.

In the briefing room and on the battlefield, Patton is one sharp general. I particularly remember the scene where Patton describes his strategy on the island of Sicily: landing on the north side of the island and intercepting the enemy as they advance from the south. This is in contrast to a British official's plan to meet the enemy right where the enemy is currently located, which does sound rather unwise. And when you see Patton in the battlefield as guns are blazing and explosions erupt all over the place, he manages to stay strong as he leads his men to their objective. He is just 100% confident in his plans. Even the Nazis, who nervously discuss how to deal with Patton, are in awe.

However, Patton is also a real bastard. His high degree of confidence leads to an intolerance for failure and a tendency to disrespect others. This is best illustrated, no doubt, by the most notable incident of the film and of Patton's life: slapping a psychologically traumatized soldier and calling him a coward. That alone is enough to make one lose respect for the general, but given his military victories, how can one just discharge him from service? It's not easy. Sadly, other similar incidents follow, including one in which Patton insults a Russian official with a profane slur. Not behind his back, but directly to the man's face. THAT takes guts.

Hopefully, all of this is enough to convince you how great the movie Patton is. Even though George C. Scott is the reason to watch it, there are other things to see. You can expect thrilling war scenes, lovely cinematography, interesting historical details, and even a little bit of humor related to people's view of Patton's attitude. Whatever it is you're looking for, chances are that you'll find it in this movie. And if you are a fan of war movies, rest assured that Patton is one of the best there is. The real life General Patton had accomplished so much in World War II, and actor George C. Scott accomplished so much in his career, especially with this role.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Patton, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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