George C. Scott

Patton

Year: 1970
Directed By: Franklin J. Schaffner
Written By: Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North (story and screenplay) Ladislas Farago and Omar N. Bradley (factual research)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I am generally not a fan of biopics but some men deserve to be remembered. Some men lived head and shoulders above others and occasionally a movie actually does them justice.

While this movie does do justice to General George Patton, it should only serve to inspire actual research into the real man. This movie does an excellent job of showcasing one of the most interesting men to serve this country during WWII but it is still a movie. Even when biopics do justice to their namesakes they still embellish where embellishment is needed for story telling purposes. This movie serves as a good and interesting template for a man who deserves more of your attention and respect.

I have never been a big World War II buff myself but I saw this movie in half a dozen classes throughout my time in school. When history classes cram to fit in the entirety of history into a specific time limit they always cop-out in the end. As the end of semesters and school years came near topics like WWII and Vietnam just get brushed over. More often than not it was the lazy period right before the end when the teacher would just pop in a movie that would “cover it.” In many cases in my experience that was simply playing this appropriately rated film so I and other students would shut up and watch a movie for a day or so. Nevertheless this movie made an impression on me when I was young and it has been part of our collection for a long time.

George C. Scott was a terrific actor whose performance here overshadows a lot of great work he did before and after. He famously refused the Academy Award for the role stating that he didn’t deserve an award for simply acting like a man who really was great. He did deserve the award however because nobody could have brought Patton to life on the big screen quite like Scott. Scott was against the famous opening scene of the film because he thought it would overshadow his performance as a whole. In fact there is a lot of speculation as to where the famous Patton speech the movie kicks off with actually came from. Patton was known for great and colorful speeches that motivated his men but what we see in this film is the product of someone’s writing. Patton also never wore his entire full regalia of military achievements. However in the movie this is how he appears and the speech is what he said. See? Even in a movie such as this you can’t take everything at face value and always remember it is what it is, a movie.

If you enjoy this movie then let it inspire you. Let it encourage you to find out more about the real story behind the film. There is a world of knowledge out there for anyone interested and it can offer you much more than simply something a 2 hour movie can cover. This is a great movie about an important topic, but it is only a taste of a greater story beyond.

I think this is a terrific movie, but it does not cover the entirety of WWII. If you are a high school history teacher I just want to suggest you don’t cop-out on teaching the topic by simply showing a movie at the end of the semester. Otherwise this is a great movie that is worth your time to see.

NEXT FILM: Paul (2011)

 

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Year: 1964
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Stanley Kubrick, Terri Southern, and Peter George (book)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of the greatest comedies of all time, even after almost fifty years.  It is a culturally significant and satirically clever movie that happens to be hilarious as well.  It has been so long since this film has come out that the situation the film depicts might be strange to young viewers unfamiliar with the Cold War.  I urge any of them to learn from this film as it mocks a very real and serious situation in our nation’s history.  When you watch the movie you have to really allow yourself to get sucked into it.  Absorb yourself in the story to get the most out of it.  It is a film that requires your attention because it is easy to get lost in a story about an unfamiliar time.  I have been struggling for years to get Amber to actually pay attention to this film and appreciate how great it really is.

The Cold War was one of the most ridiculous conflicts in the history of the world and it left the entire planet in a precarious situation for a long time.  It is a conflict that every rising generation needs to learn about so that we all understand the pointlessness and risk of the arms race and theories like Mutually Assured Destruction.  This movie is perfect for conveying the danger the world faced and the madness behind it all.  When I was in college I actually designed a lesson plan for a history class on The Cold War that centered on this movie.  The main problem with that would be getting teenagers to pay attention to a black and white film like this.  There would need to be a lot of background info to go over in order for them to understand but that is where most of you teaching points start.  I believe the easiest way to get young kids to understand history is giving them something like a film that they can relate to and understand better.  Teaching around films in this fashion gives you plenty of opportunity to convey important information to them while keeping them interested in the topic with a film.  Films are never historically accurate but that only gives you more opportunities to stop the film and explain how it really was.  The problem with this idea of using movies in history class is that history classes in this state are required to be taught to the test at the end of the year.  That kind of system really limits what teachers are able to do and rushes them to fit too much history into too short a time.  Hopefully the powers that be will one day learn the folly in such a system.

Stanley Kubrick is a legendary director with an incredible track record.  He is also quite the perfectionist which led some people to wonder if he was mad but it always made his films better.  He read something like fifty books about nuclear war before writing the screenplay for this movie.  That’s part of what makes it such a historically and culturally significant film because it so accurately mocks the realities at stake.  This movie only got the green light from the studio if Peter Sellers agreed to play four parts and he got the king’s ransom for his contribution to the film.  Receiving roughly fifty-five percent of the film’s budget in payment.  Peter Sellers played the part of the British liaison officer, the President, and Dr. Strangelove and his performances carry the film.  Sellers was supposed to play the part of the B-52 pilot as well but twisted his ankle or something like that and they had to cast a new role.  The part ultimately went to Slim Pickins after being turned down by the likes of John Wayne and Dan Blocker.  Slim Pickins gave one of his most memorable performances and will live on in infamy because of his role as Major TJ “King” Kong.  George C. Scott, better known for playing General Patton in Patton, was sensational as General Turgidson.  He is specifically does a good job of conveying the paranoia and insanity that had a voice in some of the high level meetings of the time.  “Mr. President! We cannot allow a mine shaft gap!” That line is one of my favorites in the film, it is so funny. Sterling Hayden does a great job of keeping a straight face while he speaks complete nonsense.  He fits the part perfectly as the longtime military man that has ultimately gone mad.

This movie was originally supposed to come out in November of 1963, but when JFK was assassinated it didn’t seem like the right time for this kind of dark comedy. It was pushed back until sometime in 1964 before actually being released. It is one of the most well received movies in history and considered one of the best comedies of all time. This movie is referenced on a regular basis in the media world so it will always have an incredible legacy.  With a movie like this I don’t think I need to vouch for it because this is a movie that speaks for itself.  Let yourself get drawn in and pay close attention to everything that is happening and you will see the value of this film.  It is a great classic film that I always enjoy watching.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan’s right, I really can never seem to get into this movie. I know it is supposed to be really great, but for some reason every time we watch it, I find myslef wandering away or not paying attention. I don’t even know what the movie is about, so I really can’t give it a review. It’s a a classic, so I say yes watch it, I am just not sure if you will like it or not.

 

NEXT MOVIE: Dumb and Dumber (1994)