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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 13.64%
Average: 4.55%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 2.27%

1 review, 38 user ratings

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by dionwr

"Probably the best one-man show ever made"
5 stars

George C. Scott made an indelible impression playing the title character, Patton, a famous World War II general who was more than slightly nuts. While there are other characters on screen occasionally, none is given any depth, and the film succeeds or fails on Scott's performance, which was more than up to it--this is one of the great screen performances.

Partly, Scott was given great material to work with, in a script which was mostly the work of a young Francis Coppola. Faced with making a film glorifying the military success of a man whose personality he loathed, Coppola found ways to get both sides of his personality into the script, and Scott played every nuance. It does glorify military success--but it also outlines its shortcomings.

The character of Patton actually seems designed to make the point. A Bible-reading autodidact and tactical genius who sincerely believed he was the reincarnation of past warriors, Patton achieved astonishing success as a general but was continually in trouble for his opinions and actions, most memorably when he slapped a shell-shocked soldier who, he thought, was simply a coward. A democracy's values can only be at odds with someone like him.

From the famous (and endlessly parodied) initial scene, where Patton blood-thirstily addresses the camera directly, with a huge American flag as a backdrop, this is a portrayal not just of Patton, but of how he thought, and how he thought of himself.

Patton sees himself as a knight, and his army as an extension of himself, and the movie follows suit. The battles are huge spectacles of tanks and explosions and large masses of infantry--but no personal, individual view of the carnage, a la "Saving Private Ryan." It's all Patton, all the time, for damn near three hours. The great triumph of the film, and of George C. Scott, is that they make Patton fascinating enough that we'll watch him for that long.

Patton had a genuine flamboyance, which he channeled towards inspiring his army and men. It makes a much more vivid impression than the rather colorless supporting characters. There's a lovely moment when someone tells him the men don't know when he's acting, and he replies that it isn't important that they know.

About those other characters, we do see them--but strictly from Patton's viewpoint. Omar Bradley (Karl Malden, trying hard in a lost cause) is just there to react to Patton, and Montgomery (played by Michael Bates) is a weak foil, someone to compete with, presented as being as egocentric as Patton but without his competence. Nothing is allowed to distract from that intense focus on the one man.

Interestingly, when Patton has a meeting with Eisenhower, it's like he's been up to the mountain to see God. We see him coming out of the meeting where Ike fired him, towards the end of the war (for casually saying in an interview that the Nazis were "just another political party" like the Republicans or the Democrats!) but they don't show Ike himself, or that meeting. And, indeed, it would have broken the mood of the movie, to have shown Patton meeting with his boss. No one in this movie is allowed to be greater than he.

The prime mover to get the film made was its producer, Frank McCarthy. He went on to make a very similar film about a very similar general: MacArther. MacArthur was more egotistical than Patton, more successful, and the film had a even larger budget. But with Patton, they got it right in a way MacArthur never did, and everyone remembers this movie, while the other is almost completely forgotten.

By giving equal weight to his achievements and his shortcomings, "Patton" ends up feeling like we've gotten a true picture of the man. And George C. Scott will always be remembered for this performance.

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originally posted: 11/18/02 17:12:12
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User Comments

5/08/20 morris campbell solid war flick i dug it 4 stars
5/11/18 Luis Calabria Saw it at age of 12. Dad who was in Patton's army dropped us off & did not watch. Best! 5 stars
5/15/12 Ed Totleben, Jr. No poor dumb sonofabitch should miss this great movie 5 stars
9/10/11 Debbie Mac Best acting I've seen in a long time, done by George C Scott. 5 stars
10/21/10 Jeff Wilder Scott's performace alone makes it worth a view. 4 stars
11/12/09 matt terrific portrait of a man, nay, a legend 5 stars
9/15/08 Gina! Saw it when it first came out, I was 12yo, to this day the best film of my life time! 5 stars
3/30/07 fools♫gold Damn well-done; I was completely shocked at how good it really was. 5 stars
3/09/07 Sugarfoot An excellent war movie, with what is easily film's best opening sequence ever. 5 stars
11/12/06 R.W.Welch Nearly preternatural portrayal by Scott in one of the top 5 war pics. 5 stars
6/07/05 Cassander George C Scott is perfection in this movie 5 stars
12/23/04 goatfarmer excellent portrayal of a fatally flawed hero 5 stars
9/25/04 JD Joslin Fanastic war film! Patton was a warrior to his soul & beyond. 5 stars
1/28/04 Dean Strong performance, good battle scenes 5 stars
10/22/03 jOHN dOE junk 1 stars
8/08/03 3man Scott played a masterful Patton. This is one of the greatest movies ever. 5 stars
2/19/03 Matthew Jones THE BEST!!!! If only more Generals had been like him instead of that Limey fag Montgomery.. 5 stars
12/27/02 Jon "Thumb the Toad" lyrik Not quite a classic, but a damn good flick. 4 stars
11/22/02 dead great 5 stars
11/19/02 Buddha Glorious. 5 stars
10/26/02 Charles Tatum Excellent acting, expert direction 5 stars
9/02/02 y2mckay Haven't seen it for ages, so can't wright full review. I remember it was fucking good tho 5 stars
8/26/02 Justin Excellent!!! 5 stars
6/07/02 Joe Levy How about 5 stars you fag Vidmar! Godfather sucks! 5 stars
3/14/02 Rockitman007 Best War Movie Ever!!!!! 5 stars
11/18/01 sdfr Great stuff. Picked this one up from local video store and was blown away. 5 stars
1/12/01 Skip Not many memorable scenes. Scott is excellent though. 3 stars
9/20/00 Jeff Scott is superb! 4 stars
5/15/00 Dave Staples There are few 30 year old movies which will make a lasting impression on you. This is one. 5 stars
5/03/00 Bob Greatest movie ever 5 stars
2/12/00 matt excellent movie 5 stars
11/29/99 Mic Great film. 5 stars
9/05/99 Weird Andy Magnificent, bastards. 5 stars
6/07/99 Elizaveta I looove George C. Scott! 4 stars
3/07/99 little jerry Along with Planet of the Apes & Papillon,this proves that Schaffner was one of the best. 5 stars
11/24/98 Vick Di Brecci Not terrible but a basically one note picture that says it all in the first five minutes 3 stars
11/24/98 Lord Of The Dunce George C. Scott is way cool. Great story, great movie. 5 stars
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  04-Feb-1970 (PG)
  DVD: 23-May-2006

  07-May-1970 (PG)

  09-Jul-1970 (M)

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