PATTON (1970)

The man who loved war more than life itself was a tough character to bring to the screen. Producer Frank McCarthy, a retired brigadier general, spent almost 20 years getting the picture made and had to do so without the cooperation of General George S. Patton’s family. Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger and Lee Marvin all turned the role down before George C. Scott accepted. The role became his most popular performance, eventually sweeping the year-end acting awards. Scott almost turned down the film, claiming the picture’s most famous scene, Patton addressing his men while standing in front of a giant U.S. flag, didn’t belong at the beginning. To get him to make the film, director Franklin J. Schaffner promised to put it later, then edited PATTON as originally planned creating one of the most iconic of all film openings. PATTON won praise from both liberals and conservatives at the height of the Vietnam War, partly because it focused less on the morality of war than on the character of the famous general, giving equal time to battles on the field of war and with other military leaders. The picture won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and a Best Actor award turned down by the ever iconoclastic Scott.

(d. Franklin J. Schaffner, 172m, 70mm)