Cast: George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young, Michael Strong
"Patton" tells the tale of General George S. Patton, famous tank commander of World War II. The film begins with patton's career in North Africa and progresses through the invasion of Germany and the fall of the Third Reich. Side plots also speak of Patton's numerous faults such his temper and habit towards insubordination. Faults which would, eventually, lead to his being relieved as Occupation Commander of Germany.
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One of George C. Scottís signature character that has become something of a military icon as the actor plays the real life general whose conquests and status in the military was legendary. George C. Scott epitomizes George S. Patton and truly gives a wonderful and frightening performance as a general whose life revolves around war and all its haunting glory. The film Patton chronicles the generalís career and its end, as his time in the military comes to an end and he struggles to find his place.
The opening monologue, delivered by George C. Scott as General Patton with an enormous American flag behind him, remains an iconic and often quoted image in film. It has found a place in movie history and has become something that remains a presence in pop culture. Scott's rendering of Patton's famous military speech to members of the Third Army is set against a huge American flag. Coppola and North had to tone down Patton's actual words and statements in this scene, as well as throughout the film, to secure a PG rating.
Whether playing a real life character or a character based on someoneís imagination, the actor must try to find the voice of that individual to bring the character to life and distinguish him as his own person. Here George C. Scottís performance comes off as if its own personality shining through and maybe to some degree it is, but Scott certainly delivers the essentials of the person Patton, and more.
Itís quite a remarkable film. By the end, when Patton is removed of command we see the challenges he faces with having to accept a life without war, military tactics, drills, and grand speeches. But he finds it hard, and both Scott and Schaffner do a great job conveying his sense of loneliness and uselessness.
His final scenes are similar to an episode of the Twilight Zone in which the protagonist suddenly finds himself losing the role heís been used to for years. Now without his title as protector, or in Pattonís case general, he finds it hard to transition into a new life. For Patton, itís a life of normalcy.
The film is about war, through the eyes and obsession of a man who lives for it. Patton is over the top at times, but thatís fine, because the man himself was over the top but was always sincere. Every thought, idea, speech, and plan of action came from a genuine and honest place. That place, was his passion for war which larger than life, and larger than himself.