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Patton (1970)

Franklin J Schaffner’s complex study of the “red-blooded” American General was co-written by Francis Coppola and managed at once to be intimate (the opening speech with Scott posed against a gigantic American flag) and epic (in the battle sequences).

A critically acclaimed film that won a total of eight 1970 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Patton is a riveting portrait of one of the 20th century’s greatest military geniuses, US Commander General George Smith Patton – The only Allied General truly feared by the Nazis.

Charismatic and flamboyant, Patton designed his own uniforms, sported ivory-handled six-shooters, and believed he had been a warrior in past lives.

He outmanoeuvred Rommel in Africa, and after D-Day led his troops in an unstoppable campaign across Europe, lifting the siege of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, then pushing into Czechoslovakia and – sniffing glorious victory – being forced by Eisenhower to make way for Montgomery’s Northern Front.

But Patton was rebellious as well as brilliant, and as this film shows with insight and poignancy, his own volatile personality was one enemy he could never defeat.

After the war, Patton’s forces occupied Bavaria, but his unconcealed resentment of the Russians and his refusal to dismiss Nazis from civil office led to his downfall and bitter departure.

One of the most intelligent war films of its period, Patton hinges on George C Scott’s gargantuan performance – conceived like a tragic Shakespearean hero.

Scott, his head shaved, his craggy features cast in expressions of contempt or rage, took the role because “Patton was a professional and I admire professionalism”.

Yet Scott made sour Oscar history when he declined his Best Actor award for the title role in Patton, considering the award ceremony to be a “meat market”. The film’s producer Frank McCarthy accepted Scott’s Oscar on the night and it was returned to the Academy the very next day.

A sequel, The Last Days of Patton (1986), once again starred Scott in the title role.

General Patton
George C Scott
General Bradley
Karl Malden
Field Marshal Montgomery
Michael Bates
Major General Walter Bedell Smith
Edward Binns
Sgt Meeks
James Edwards
Colonel Bell
Lawrence Dobkin
Lt Col Davenport
Frank Latimore
Captain Jenson
Morgan Paull
Brig Gen Carver
Michael Strong
Field Marshal Rommel
Karl Michael Vogler
Captain Hansen
Stephen Young
Lt Gen Buford
David Bauer
Colonel John Welkin
Peter Barkworth
Air Vice-Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham
John Barrie
Soldier who gets slapped
Tim Considine
Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder
Gerald Flood
General Sir Harold Alexander
Jack Gwillim
Major General Francis de Guingand
Douglas Wilmer
First Lt Stiller
Patrick J Zurica

Franklin J Schaffner