General Patton-The Man and the Movie

I just saw the George W. Scott movie, and it was well done. However, how accurate is it? The movie shows Gen. Patton taking Messina in Sicily (ahead of Montgomery-was this what happened? The movie suggets that Patton was ignored by British General Alexander…was there evidenc of this? Also, Patton’s performance in Belgium-was he advancing ahead of all the Allied armies?
The movie made a lot about Patton’s belief that he had been reincarnated-is there any evidence that Patton believed this?
All in all, a good movie-though Montgomery comes across as pretty dumb.

ralph124c, you really did choose an excellent film and George C. Scott’s finest role.

Patton did take Messina ahead of Montgomery! It had been assumed from the beginning that the Seventh Army would take a secondary role. Then, a few days into Sicily, the Seventh Army was ordered to allow the Eighth to take the primary role:

Incidentally, I was born the next day – July 14, 1943. Just not in Sicily.

To find out how Patton got his revenge and won the race, you might like reading from my source. It’s full of fascinating details and reads like a good old-fashioned war story. It also gives some insight into Alexander’s thinking and to why the Americans were assigned a secondary role.

The descriptions of the landings were interesting too.

I recall reading somewhere when the movie came out that Patton did believe that he had been a great warrior in another life or in other lives, but I’m sorry that I can’t give you more details than that. That did seem to be an unusual part of his character.

Was that not the ugliest dog you’ve ever seen?

Well, I know his dog was not the wimpy pooch portrayed in the movie. It was pugnacious and feared, like its master.

Except for Dr. Strangelove! :smiley:

I’m pretty sure the movie was accurate in all the major details. I’ve read several Patton biographies, and I don’t remember seeing anything in the movie that jarred with what I knew about the guy. All the major events were covered accurately - the Third Army’s run into Belgium, the fuel problems they had, Patton slapping a soldier, his run-ins with Monty, his being used as a decoy during the Normandy invasion, etc. Of course, there are two sides to some of these stories.

The only major difference I can think of is that the real Patton’s voice was far less gruff- it was more refined and high pitched, not at all like Scott’s. And several incidents in the movie were changed a bit for dramatic purpose but basically true (for example, he actually bitch-slapped several soldiers for PTSD, but it was only two who got him in real trouble and just one is portrayed in the movie (though his hatred of them is mentioned early on when he tells the surgeon “I don’t care if they die, get them out of here” or something to that effect).

His belief in reincarnation is well documented- he even wrote poetry about his past life memories which ranged from fighting for mammoth as a cave man to the Civil War (in which his grandfathers were officers).

Incidentally, Patton was stinking stinking rich from both inheritance (his mother’s family owned huge tracts of land [as in 10,000s of acres] in California) and his father-in-law was a multimillionaire textile manufacturer. He was also every bit the intellectual portrayed in the movie. He also used to eat his lunch while surrounded by rotting animals killed hunting or butchered or rotting meat from a butchering to strengthen his fortitude against the smells of a battlefield (one of his Confederate relatives told him about a battlefield smelling like rotting meat after a few days [for obvious reasons] and how sickening it was and Patton wanted to prepare himself).

Trivia about the movie: Patton’s children sued the studio and Coppola before it was released, went to see it in the theater soon after it was released to gain more material for their lawsuit, and dropped the suit with apologies. They loved the movie. More trivia: the original choice for the role was John Wayne, but between Coppola having screaming fits and Wayne’s salary demands it was dropped. And yet more trivia: George Lucas made his bones working on the film as Coppola’s protege, though I don’t know his name is in the credits and obviously he was more flunky than power player.

There is also a no budget made for TV sequel/prequel also starring George C. Scott- I’ve actually seen it for sale in $1 bins at Dollar General- but it’s not so terrible other than the glaring difference in budget and director talent. In the first few minutes he has his fatal car accident and while lying with his head literally held up by fishing line and unable to feel his body he reminisces on his life (younger actors in flashbacks playing Patton as a young man).

No cites, but I understand that the famous opening scene was actually the last to be filmed, and that in many cases, Patton’s actual language had to be, uh, softened for the movie dialogue.

The movie didn’t have him gong down on Marlene Deitrich.

Wish it had - then maybe when Nixon watched it several times it would have been as inspiration for something besides invading Cambodia.

Wasn’t Ol’ Blood & Guts also scrumping his teen-age niece?

He had an affair with his wife’s niece, and lots of other women. He was a notorious womanizer, which his wife knew and looked the other way (though the niece bothered her).

The movie does a great job of incorporating actual quotes by Patton, incidentally. His comment that he’d love to personally present the Luftwaffe pilots strafing his camp with medals, for example, was a comment he made at another time about an enemy pilot, but while not true to the details and particulars of the man for dramatic purposes it is very true to the character and spirit, which is I think more important.

Other stars considered for the role: Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck, Lee Marvin and Robert Mitchum, all of whom were much bigger stars than Scott (who was well known for supporting roles but hadn’t carried a movie like this- few stars had as Scott is onscreen for the vast majority of the frames for 3 hours, the only exceptions being battles and the occasional vignettes of people discussing or anticipating Patton). Coppola suggested Brando for the role but was told of course that he was too unreliable, impossible to deal with and all washed up, but he still kept him in mind for his next picture.

In George Lucas’s re-release of PATTON, incidentally, the soldier with PTSD slaps Patton first.

What a caricature of masculinity — in addition to an intellectual and military giant.

The made-for-TV followup, mentioned above, does touch on Patton’s affair with his wife’s niece.

Sir Rhosis

Interesting. For all we saw in the movie, he might as well have been celibate. (Not that that was a bad directorial choice. What would performance in bed have to do with his performance as a general?)

If they’d gone for nudity it probably would have been of a more disgusting type. During his participation in the campaign against Pancho Villa the young Patton took a bullet to the thigh that tore out a large part of one of his buttocks upon exit. He was intensely proud of the scar and showed it off at every opportunity, even getting arrested on a beach once because he’s tailored his bathing suit to reveal it! (Strange but true.)

Then there’s the frontal nudity op: he celebrated his arrival in Germany by pissing in the Rhine and invited anybody with cameras to record the moment, which some did (though obviously the photos weren’t printed in the papers and this was when the Internet was still in black and white). Churchill thought it was so funny he did the same thing when he arrived there.

Was Patton really the vain, showy jackass Scott portrayed? Did he really wear all those ridiculous extras on his uniform? And – did he really have such a clash of egos with Montgomery that it sometimes seemed the war was between the two of them?

Patton vs Montgomery. Gen. Montgomery was the victor of El alamein (N. Africa), and probably the best British General. yet, his campaigh against N. Germ,any stalled out, while patton was racing toward the German heartland 9only to be stalled for want of fuel). Was the britsh effort stopped because of Montgomerie’s mishandling? or was the german resistance much more than what Gen. patton faced?
It seems it is very hard to assess the man (Patton0, becuase the circumstances he was faced with were always changing. For example, given the resources, could he have driven to berlin before the russians? Or was he still held up by inadequate tanks 9the American tanks were still not a amtch for the german Tiger tanks).
Finally, did he have his own uniforms speacially made? those ivory-handled revolvers were his trademark-where are they now?

My dad served under Patton and knew the man. After seeing the movie, his comment was that is was almost frightening how accurately Scott nailed Patton’s speech and mannerisms, except that his voice needed to be a little higher.

He said that Scott was so believable that about 30 seconds into the opening speech, he fully expected Scott to stop, look down from the screen and yell, “SEARS, GODDAMMIT, GET A HAIRCUT BEFORE THE NEXT TIME I SEE YOU!!”

Apparently, Patton had given that exact order to Dad some 26 years before. :smiley:

I’ve seen Patton’s pistols, uniforms, etc., up close. They’re in a museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky, as is the car he was fatally injured in.

They have an online presence. Called something simple like “The Patton Museum,” iirc.

And to answer a question posed above. Some (NOT ALL) men are driven to be confident in life, business, sports, war, etc., by their prowess in bed. Confidence in one area can spill over into another. Surely we all realize that (even if we disagree with the philosophy behind it).

Sir Rhosis

I remember reading that Omar Bradley and Patton despised each other. (Bradley was very straight laced and couldn’t stand profanity, and Patton thought that any soldier who wouldn’t swear was a total wimp.) However, most of the movie was based on Bradley’s autobiography. Bradley, ironically, ended up earning millions in royalties and various fees from a movie about a man he hated. (This was from the Carlo D’Este biography.)

If nothing else, it would have been a great opportunity to reinforce, or possibly question, traditional ideas of manliness.