Patton came to my Blind Spot list by way of my desire to finish the Best Picture Oscar winners of the 1970s and 80s. I knew nearly nothing about this film going in, other than George C. Scott was going to stand in front of a giant American flag at the beginning and be generally badass.
For now, let's say this: I liked this movie. It's fine. George C. Scott is stellar, and there are moments of oratory greatness in the Oscar-winning screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North to match the lore of the man himself.
Knowing so little going in, I was in fact delighted by the dual introductions of the character Patton. Everyone who's ever discussed movies knows about the opening, the condensed, cleaned up version of one of the real-life General's actual speeches, staged in front of that giant American flag. What I'd never heard about was the humor with which he is actually introduced as an interesting man played by an equally interesting screen presence.
As the halfway point came about, fueled by Patton's victorious gamble in Sicily in which he bests both the Germans and his proper British counterpart Montgomery (Micheal Bates), I began to fall of as he does, losing rank a touch after an incident with "cowardly" soldiers in a field hospital (which I read is absolutely true). Patton, then, became a character I felt I couldn't root for, or, worse, no longer understood. His tragic flaw to that point had seemed Pride, vanity, especially in his dealings with fellow General Omar Bradley (an excellent-as-always Karl Malden). Their meeting providing plenty of food for thought in terms what what Patton was like as a man and leader. I just lost interest in the second half.
It could all boil down to my attention span though. On another day, in another year even, I could see myself really loving the epic nature of this film. Fred Koenekamp's cinematography is big and bold at its best and even better when the bullets fly. The score is Jerry Goldsmith is incredibly unique in tone. And as most have said, and I agree, George C. Scott's Oscar-winning performance is brilliant. And I like the odd juxtaposition of character in that Scott, to paraphrase Roger Ebert, was meant to play Patton and Patton was meant for Scott, yet I feel like Patton would've picked up his award. Scott stayed at home on Oscar night, citing a disbelief in acting as a competition.
Either way, it's a match made in heaven. character and actor, both larger than life, come together in a huge cinematic epic. That's what it's all about. "Today just wasn't my day, sir," I'd say to the General, and he'd probably return with a backhand.
★★ 1/2 out of ★★★★★
★★ 1/2 out of ★★★★★
|A Monthly Challenge to Watch the Greatest Films You've Never Seen|
originated by Ryan McNeil at The Matinee