My father wasn’t a big movie fan. I can only remember going to two films with him: True Grit and Patton. The first starred John Wayne, his hero. And while Dad was in the Army during World War II, I don’t believe he was under Patton’s (Great American Things, Jan. 3, 2010) leadership. That’s how I understand it, anyway – he didn’t talk about the war. I do know that his journey from North Africa to Sicily and ultimately to Paris paralleled Patton’s advances. Dad definitely wanted to see this part of his life on the big screen.
It’s a great movie, and George C. Scott gives a tremendous performance. In his portrayal, the scope of the general’s military skills were only matched by the size of his ego. From the iconic opening sequence in which Patton addresses his troops in front of that enormous American flag through the slapping of the shell-shocked soldier, the movie shows the general’s incredible military acumen while not shying from his lack of awareness of how a general must behave in the age of modern media.
Patton won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Scott). It ranked number 89 in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movies list. One of the greatest quotes in movie history also comes from this film: “Now 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.”