Reviewed on 2011 May 30
I felt like I had to review this for Memorial Day, not that it required any arm-twisting. What an opening! There’s Patton (George C. Scott), in front of a flag the size of my college dorm room, wearing a mind-boggling collection of medals and telling us how to win a war (and getting more wound-up as he goes on).
Right after the rousing speech we cut to Tunisia, and the aftermath of battle, with vultures picking over the corpses. Patton the wildcard wishes he could’ve been there, but he’s in Morocco getting yet another medal. He soon catches up with General Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) and anoints him as his deputy commander with a phone call, not worrying overmuch if anyone else was on board with his plans. Patton has his own way of doing things, and they’re all geared to one end result: win. For the rest of the 172-minute runtime we follow his career through the North African theater and the invasion of Germany.
Coppola has his work cut out for him telling this story; powerful figures always draw mixed responses from people and he wanted his script to appeal to those that both loved and loathed the general. Yes, he was a hawk, a hardcase and was convinced he was the reincarnation of various ancient warriors. On the other hand, I’d want the guy on my side in battle, since he was completely fearless and smart enough to decipher Rommel. Jerry Goldsmith’s famous score punctuates the film nicely; it’s enigmatic enough that part of it was swiped for an episode of The Simpsons.
Four chocolate morsels.