Patton (film)

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Patton is a 1970 film starring George C. Scott, Karl Malden and Michael Bates. It is a semi-historical account of the controversial hard-driving General George S. Patton's career during the Second World War.

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. Written by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North.

George S. Patton (George C. Scott)

Opening speech

  • (The real speech was made by Patton to the Third Army, on June 5, 1944, the eve of D-Day. For the motion picture it was moved to the beginning of the film, out of historical-chronological sequence.)
I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.
Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war is a lot of horse dung. Americans, traditionally, love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.
When you were kids you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, big league ball player, the toughest boxer. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.
Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating.
Now, we have the finest food, equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God I, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against, by God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards; we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel.
Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty.
The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do.
Now there's another thing I want you to remember: I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose.
Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home. And you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you: "What did you do in the great World War II?" You won't have to say, "Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana."
Alright, now you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel. Oh... I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere.
That's all.

Battle of Carthage

  • (To Omar Bradley at the ruins of Carthage):
It was here. The battlefield was here. The Carthaginians defending the city were attacked by three Roman Legions. The Carthaginians were proud and brave but they couldn't hold. They were massacred. The Arab women stripped them of the tunics and swords, and lances. And the soldiers lay naked in the sun. 2000 years ago. I was here. (Looking at Bradley) You don't believe me do you Brad?
You know what the poet said:
'Through the travail of ages,
Midst the pomp and toils of war,
Have I fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon a star.
As if through a glass, and darkly
The age-old strife I see—
Where I fought in many guises, many names—
but always me.'
Do you know who the poet was? Me.

Death of Captain Richard N. Jenson

  • (To his diary about the death of his favorite aid, Captain Richard N. "Dick" Jenson, at the Battle of El Guettar. Jenson died from a bomb concussion in an air raid on April 1, 1943, while visiting the command post of Colonel Clarence C. Benson. The bomb just missed General Omar Bradley. Every bone in Jenson's body was broken, but his skin was not scratched.):
Captain Richard N. Jenson was a fine boy. Loyal, unselfish, and efficient. I am terribly sorry.
There are no coffins here since there's no wood.
We will have a trumpeter and an honor guard, but we will not fire the volleys as it would make people think an air raid was on.
I enclosed a lock of Dick's hair in a letter to his mother. He was a fine man and a fine officer. And he had no vices.
I shall miss him a lot.
I can't see the reason such fine young men get killed. There are so many battles yet to fight.

Sicily slapping incident

Patton slaps GI

  • (On August 10, 1943, Patton visits an army aid station tent, while there he confronts a GI who is crying and shaking, Private Paul G. Bennet, but who has no visible wounds. [In reality there were two separate slapping incidents, over a 10-day period. He kicked the first one, Private Charles H. Kuhl, in the butt, in addition to the slapping. The film combines and edits these into one event. The press ignored the first event, but columnist Drew Pearson talked about the second one in a radio broadcast.]):
(Patton): What's the matter with you?
(Bennet): I, I guess I just can't take it sir.
(Patton): What did you say?
(Bennet): It's my nerves sir. I, I, I just can't stand the shelling anymore. (Bennet starts sobbing more)
(Patton): Your nerves? Why hell you are just a God damned coward. (Patton stands slaps Bennet's helmet with his gloves) Shut up. I won't have a yellow bastard sitting here crying, in front of these brave men who have been wounded in battle. (Bennet continues to sob) Shut up!!! (Patton then struck the man again, knocking his helmet liner off. He then turned to the admitting officer and yelled:) Don't admit this yellow bastard. There's nothing the wrong with him. I won't have sons-of-bitches who are afraid to fight stinking up this place of honor. (Turns back to Bennet:) You're going back to the front my friend. You may get shot and you may get killed, but you're going up to the fighting. Either that I am stand you up in front of a firing squad. I (Patton grabs for his pistol.) ought to shoot you myself, you God damned little whimpering bastard. Get him out of here. (You can see the anger in Patton/Scott's eyes; Two orderlies grab Bennet and take him out of tent.) Send him up to the front! You hear me! You Goddamn coward! (Patton tries to compose his anger, and starts walking out of the tent.) I won't have cowards in my army.
  • (After the first incident with Private Kuhl, it would be found that Private Kuhl's final disposition diagnosis was chronic dysentery and malaria. But, nobody knew it at the time.)

Letter from Eisenhower

  • (After slapping the soldier in Sicily, the incident gets into the press, Patton summons General Omar Bradley to his quarters, talking to Bradley.):
(Bradley): You wanted to see me George?
(Patton): Got a letter here from Ike. (hands letter to Bradley, pause, as Bradley starts to read the letter.) I ah, was re-reading Caesar's Commentaries last night. In battle Caesar wore a red robe to distinguish him from his men. I ah, was struck by that fact, because, (pause) despicable, that's the first time in my life anyone ever applied that word to me.
(Bradley): Well-ah, at least its a personal reprimand. It's not official.
(Patton): The man was yellow, he should have been tried for cowardice and shot. My God, have they forgotten about all of the people who have taken a hell of a lot worse than a little kick in the pants? I ruffled his pride a little bit. What's that compared to war? Two weeks ago when we took Palermo they called me a hero, said I was the greatest general since Stonewall Jackson.
(Bradley): And now the draw cartoons about you. (Bradley looking at newspaper cartoon.)
(Patton): Dirty bastard. They got me holding a little G.I. there and kicking him with an iron boot. Do you see that? What's on my boot? A swastika. On my boot. An iron boot with a swastika on it! (Patton takes newspaper and throws it down in anger.)
(Patton picks up the letter a reads a portion of it):
You will apologize to the soldier you slapped. To all doctors and nurses who were present in the tent at the time. To every patient in the tent who can be reached. And last but not least, to the Seventh Army as a whole, through individual units one at a time.
God I, feel low.

Psalm 63

  • (After slapping the soldier in Sicily, feeling low, praying in the church. This was Patton's favorite verse. It was abbreviated in the film.):
(Psalm 63: 1): O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee. My soul thirsteth for Thee. My flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land.
(Psalm 63: 2): So as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary.
(Psalm 63: 8): My soul followeth hard after Thee.
(Psalm 63: 9): But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
(Psalm 63: 10): They shall fall by the sword, they shall be apportion for foxes.
(Psalm 63: 11): But the king shall rejoice in God. Everyone that sweareth by Him shall glory. But the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

Address to Seventh Army

  • (Patton walks toward waiting troops.)
(unknown): Ten hut!
(Patton): At ease. (long pause) I thought I would stand up here and let people you see, if I am as big of son-of-a-bitch as some of you think I am.
(crowd): (laughter)
(Patton): I assure you I had no intention of being either harsh or cruel in my treatment of the soldier in question. My sole purpose was to try and to restore him some appreciation of his obligation as a man, and as a soldier. If one can shame a cowered I felt, one might help him regain his self-respect. This was on my mind. Now I freely admit that my method was wrong, but I hope you can understand my motive. And will accept this explanation, and this apology.
(unknown): Ten hut!
  • (Patton walks away.)

Weather prayer

  • (Wanting good weather to rescue the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne, he asks Monsignor James H. O'Neill for a weather prayer):
All Mighty and most merciful Father, We humbly beseech Thee, of thy great goodness to restrain this immoderate weather with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.

Other Patton quotes

  • (Watching German troops get routed):
"Such a waste of fine infantry."
  • (Looking through his binoculars, after catching the German 21st Panzer Division in a pincher trap at the Battle of El Guettar causing the Germans to retreat.):
" magnificent bastard, I read your book!"
  • (In an interview following the capture of Palermo, Sicily, after a reporter asks him about his 'pearl-handled revolvers'):
"They're ivory! Only a pimp from a cheap New Orleans whore house would carry a pearl-handled pistol."
  • (About the plan to do an end-round on the way from Palermo to Messina, by sending a battalion into the sea, behind German lines, to the town of Brolo. Speaking to Brigadier General Lucian Truscott [with Omar Bradley present], about not being to conservative, Patton misquotes Fredrick the Great [should have been Georges Danton], with):
"L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!" — ("Audacity, audacity, always audacity!")
  • (Patton is putting on his uniform, preparing to fight the 21st Panzer Division at El Guettar, and takes a long hard look at himself in the mirror)
All my life I've wanted to lead a bunch of men in a desperate battle. Today, I get to do just that.
  • "An entire world at war and I'm left out of it? God will not permit this to happen! I will be allowed to fulfill my destiny!"
  • (Upon viewing the aftermath an intense and bloody battle):
"I love it. (pause) God help me, I do love it so."

Other characters

  • (During the Battle of Sicily, under very heavy artillery barrage in the central mountains, a private unknowingly addressing General Omar Bradley, the man in charge of the battle, who has his back to the private.):
(Private): What sorry son-of-a-bitch is in charge of this operation?
(Bradley): I don't know, but they ought to hang him.

Final scene

After being relieved of command of Third Army, as he is walking Willie (his Bull Terrier) out to a cold winter, lonely and desolate landscape, and totally alone.:

  • "For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph - a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: That all glory is fleeting."

Reviews and awards

  • "The epic American war movie that Hollywood has always wanted to make but never had the guts to do before." -- Vincent Canby, The New York Times.
  • "There's a great deal of talk about loyalty from the bottom to the top. Loyalty from the top down is even more necessary and much less prevalent. One of the most frequently noted characteristics of great men who have remained great is loyalty to their subordinates."


External links

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