American director, screenwriter, producer. Born Tokyo 1920. Best known as one of the leading directors of the "Golden Age" of live TV who then moved on to direct large-scale action films as well as intimate dramas. Began as assistant in newsreel series "The March of Time", directed over 150 TV plays, including the original broadcasts of Twelve Angry Men (1954) and The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (1955).
Films: The Stripper (1963); The Planet of the Apes (1968): Patton (1970) (AKA - "Patton: A Salute to a Rebel" and "Patton - Lust for Glory"); Papillon (1973).
American general and tank commander nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts"; born to rich Southern Californian family and married wealthy heiress, educated at West Point, entered cavalry 1909, represented US at 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games, saw fighting with Gen. Pershing in 1916 when Mexico invaded, in WW1 with American Expeditionary Force in 1918. Immediately saw possibilities of tank warfare, promoted to command tank regiment, highly decorated. In inter-war period advocated use of tank at time when US showed little interest. Demonstrated tank's capabilities in invasion of North Africa November 1942, commanded US II Corps in Tunisian Campaign, promoted to head Seventh Army in invasion of Sicily. Resented subordinate role to Montgomery, decided to race him to reach Palermo. Disciplined for slapping shell-shocked soldier in hospital. Reinstated to lead Third Army in invasion of France (acted as decoy to Normandy invasion). Chosen to break out of Normandy bridgehead July 1944, pusued German forces to Seine River, crossed it without permission, acquired fuel and supplies by subterfuge. P argued that if he had not been rationed (priority given to Montgomery in north) he could have reached German border before winter and ended war earlier. Skill as tank commander vital again in stopping German Ardennes offensive December 1944, relieved surrounded 101st Airborne at Bastogne, in spring 1945 lightning advance into Czechoslovakia. Used rapid tank advances like cavalry charges he had studied at West Point. Anti-Russian and pro-German attitudes (belief that ex-Nazi Party members should be employed in administration) alienated him from top commanders. Killed in road accident Germany December 1945.
As historians have noted about Patton:
... he achieved his well-merited fame... in just 13 months of combat command during the Second World War (less than a week at Casablanca, less than 30 days at Tunisia, 38 days in Sicily, 318 days in north-west Europe). (Oxford Companion to World War II (1995), pp. 867-8)
Based upon Ladislas Farago, Patton: Ordeal and Triumph (New York, 1963) and Omar N. Bradley, A Soldier's Story (New York, 1951).
Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North.
Intermission at Track 8
Shot on location in England, Morocco, Spain, Greece in 70 mm Dimension 150 Cinemascope.
Film covers brief period of Patton's career from February 1943 to October 1945.
Carlo D'Este, A Genius for War: A Life of General George S. Patton (London: HarperCollins, 1995).
Paul Fussell, "Patton", Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, ed. Mark C. Carnes (New York: Henry Holt, 1995), pp. 242-45.
General Goerge S. Patton, Jr., War as I Knew It (1947)
1. Large scale epic from the perspective of the commanders and strategists and not the ordinary soldier.
2. Patton's 6 minute speech about fighting capacity of American soldiers before enormous American flag at opening of film. Completey anachronistic - speech given on 4 June 1944 when P was Lt. General, Scott is dressed as 4 star general wearing all medals P received post-war from several European countries.
3. George C. Scott's brilliant portrayal of Patton, for which he won Academy Award but which he refused to accept calling the Awards system a "meat race". Larger than life figure - meticulous dresser, highly polished boots and helmet, ivory handled pistols, riding crop. Also deeply religous, highly cultured and educated man. Scott's mythic "Patton" has replaced the historical "Patton" in the public mind - Scott much larger physically, deep gravelly voice quite unlike the real Patton's high squeaky voice. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf (commander in Gulf War) inspired by Scott's portrayal when he was preparing himself for his command.
4. What steps can and should a commander take to maintain "discipline" and morale in the troops under his command? Punctuality, strict uniform code, saluting, slapping "cowards"?
5. Patton on the heavy responsibility of command:
In any war a commander no matter his rank, has to send to certain death, nearly every day, by his own orders, a certain number of men. Some are his personal friends. All are his personal responsibility... Any man with a heart would like to sit down and bawl like a baby, but he can't. So he sticks out his jaw, and swaggers and swears. (Fussell, p. 243)
6. Theme of personal disgrace followed by redemption. Theme of the replacement of the traditional warrior-general by the bureaucrat-diplomat general.
7. Film leaves out curious episode where Patton attempted to rescue his son-in-law from POW camp in German territory in March 1945. Disastrous results with many killed and injured and son-in-law not freed.
8. Tanks used in film were rented from Spanish army, German in origin.
9. Screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola went on to make Vietanm War movie Apocalypse Now (1979). Anti-war sentiment was considerable when film released. Studio wanted to title film "Patton: A Salute to a Rebel" to cash in on anti-authority sentiment.
10. Driving force behind idea to make film of P's life was producer Frank
McCarthy who had been Secretary of the War Department General Staff and
knew P personally in WW2. Earlier attempts to make the film were stopped
by P's wife (1951) because she blamed media for harming his career (slapping
incidents); after wife's death P's children hindered filmmakers by pressuring
Dept. of Defence to deny filmmakers use of American military eqipment (hence
made in Spain).