When the team of American engineers arrives at the Our River bridge to destroy it, the lead engineer says to Lt. Schumacher (Ty Hardin), "I'm sure loaded with C-4, can you use any?" However, C-4 was not developed until 1956. Composition C, C-2 and C-3 were the types of plastic explosives used by the U.S. army during WW2.
When Duffy is first introduced, putting "merchandise" back on his tank, he asks one of his men to get him some cigarettes. The man goes to the rear of the tank and opens a box containing cartons with various brands. The carton removed for Duffy is Lucky Strikes in their prewar green livery. In 1942 Lucky Strike changed its packaging colors from green and red to white and red. Its ad campaign stated that "Lucky Strike Green had gone to war." This was done because the green ink was made using copper, and copper was needed for the war effort.
Early in the movie, Henry Fonda's character visits the "up
front" front. In one scene there is a soldier in a bunk reading a folded magazine, and the viewing audience can see the page he is not reading. The magazine is the April 1964 issue of Playboy and the page he has opened is the beginning of a pictorial on Playmate Donna Michelle. In the same shot a photograph of Rita Hayworth as "Gilda" can be seen on the wall. Gilda was not released until 1946. The action in this film takes place in 1944.
Early in the film we are shown a column of American vehicles retreating in disarray. In the forefront is a stalled jeep being rocked by several men. Much later, Gen. Grey observes a column of retreating American vehicles and says that "this time they're retreating like soldiers." However, this is the same clip shown earlier except that it has been flipped left to right (the jeep being rocked is now on the other side of the frame.) Since the film clip is the same, Grey really has no basis for his statement.
When Hessler dismisses the courtesan, he picks up her coat and bag from his bed, walks to the door and shoves it all the way open. All the while she is walking towards him. He hands her her bag and she crosses in front of him headed for the door. Abruptly there is a shift and she is facing him as he throws her coat over her shoulder and shove her towards the suddenly closed door which SHE has to open.
When Gen. Grey is standing on the steps of his new headquarters, a messenger runs up and hands him a folded white piece of paper, but when he and Col. Pritchard walk inside seconds later its the colonel who's holding the paper and hands it to him, telling him ts the intelligence information he had requested earlier.
When Maj. Wolenski knocks out a Tiger tank in the first battle scene, Col. Hessler calls it over the radio, referring to it as "Tank 104". However, when the tank limps off the road, the ID number painted on the back of the turret is "01".
When the German spearhead commences its attack, the footage is flipped--the machine gun in the hull of the tanks appears to be on the right-hand side of the hull. This is the driver's side of the tank. The footage changes regularly in this perspective.
At the beginning of the scene where Maj. Wolenski confronts Col. Hessler about the Malmedy massacre, Wolenski's infantry branch (crossed rifles) insignia is upside-down (butts up and muzzles down relative to the shirt collar). Midway through the scene the insignia becomes correctly placed.
The battle is supposed to be a surprise attack. Yet, at the very beginning of the initial advancement of the columns (49-min. mark), we see a tank fire a round. The commanders were even sending reports back to headquarters confirming that "no enemy opposition encountered". The tank that fired wasn't even in the first row of the column. Tanks don't fire rounds without a target, especially when they don't want to give their position away.
When Col. Hessler meets his tank commanders at the underground bunker, the shot as he enters the room has all the soldiers standing at attention with "eyes left" (looking toward him as he enters). In the next shot, over Hessler's shoulder, none of the men are looking towards him; they are all facing straight ahead.
When Col. Hessler asks headquarters for permission to assault Amblève, he is told he has until 0400 hours (4:00 a.m.), and it appears to be the late afternoon. However, when the bombardment starts, it is obvious that the sun is already rising and by the time the armor assault starts, it is daylight.
(at around 1h 43 mins) When the Germans first start to suffer major setbacks, an artillery unit shells a tank attack. In the long view the guns are either 105mm or 155mm rubber-tired, towed howitzers. When the view moves to a close-up of the recoil of the breech block, spoked wooden wheels can be seen near the top of the screen are more than one occasion. It's also clear from this image that the gun being fired may not even be a real gun. If it is, it's a very small-caliber 50mm or smaller.
The interior of the conference room portion of Col. Hessler's command trailer is easily twice as big as shown in the exterior shot, moments before the trailer strikes a land mine and kills Hessler's tank commanders.
When LTC Kiley is in the observation plane in the opening scene and chasing Col Hessler's car, we first see the car on a winding dirt road with a ruin of a building at a bend. After the car has been buzzed for several minutes, Conrad runs it into a ditch, then runs and hides in the ruin they passed in the opening shot.
When the sergeant and the lieutenant get pointed in the wrong direction, you can see the road-sign pointing to Ambleve (left) and to Malmedy (right). Since the sign is supposed to be twisted, this means that they came from the east. Being east at 42 km from Malmedy, and 36 km from Ambleve, they would have been several (10-15) kilometers inside Germany.
Tank and battlefield sequence filming occurred at the US Army Yakima firing range along the east slope of the Cascade Range in Washington State. This region is roughly 2,500 to 3,500 ft. above sea level, with an arid high desert climate. Clearly, this is out of place when compared to the Ardennes Forest region.
When the train (carrying the guns) is nearing the first bridge, you can see several men (perhaps railway workers) standing along the side. They are wearing shirts and cowboy-like hats which indicates that it's very hot. The Battle of the bulge took place during the very cold winter of 1944.
Common in military movies and TV, nearly every salute is done incorrectly. The enlisted man or lesser-grade officer is supposed to hold his salute until returned. Everyone learns that in basic training. Yet here the salute is a quick up/down nearly every time.
The opening narration states that "Montgomery's 8th Army was in the north . . . ". British Gen. Bernard L. Montgomery did command the British forces in NW Europe, but the 8th Army, formerly commanded by him, was in Italy.
The movie portrays the entire German spearhead as consisting of King Tiger tanks. In fact, only 100 were available for the Bulge operation. Additionally, Joachim Peiper, the officer appointed to command this force, was horrified at having to deploy the 70-ton monsters through the narrow Ardennes roads.
Lt. Col. Kiley salutes indoors. There are very few occasions (i.e., when receiving pay, and some ceremonies) where soldiers render a hand salute indoors, since in almost all occasions the hat is removed while indoors.
All of the American vehicles in the movie use a German Red-Green-Brown camouflage color scheme; however, in late 1944 only olive drab/black camouflage schemes were used on armor. In winter whitewash was used on some armored vehicles to blend in with the snow. Transport vehicles, artillery, etc., were still painted in basic olive drab. In one scene we can even see a bazooka with a camouflage paint scheme.
After a tank and command vehicle are destroyed by a mine, Col. Hessler orders the infantry to go ahead of the tanks. This would not protect the tanks. A mine big enough to destroy a tank would not be triggered by a man stepping on it. This would allow the infantry to cross the field before the tanks. And still leave the tanks open to destruction by the mines.
When Col. Hessler is at a conference with his Panzer officers, he points out with his finger on a map the place of the Our River, which they should cross. He is actually pointing near the area of Brussels, some 100 miles west of the real Our River. The same thing happens when Gen. Grey asks his officer the location of the German spearhead.
Henry Fonda utters one of the most commonly mis-used pieces of movie dialogue when, after talking with HQ over the telephone, he says "Over and out!" Correctly spoken, it's one or the other, "Over!" OR "Out!", but never BOTH, back to back. "OVER!" is correctly used to signify a response is expected, "OUT!" is correctly used to signify the conversation is ended.
It was not an open tank battle in clear weather that changed the fate of the Ardennes battle. Actually, the German offensive was stopped by three factors: Improving weather which allowed the American planes to attack German tanks, overstretched supply lines, and a failure to take crucial roads badly needed to supply troops.
Before the assault begins, When Kiley returns to the bunker with some prisoners, Col. Pritchard takes a gun from one of the soldiers, opens the bolt and says it's never been fired.
That gun is an MP43/StG44 - the first assault rifle (StG is an abbreviation of Sturmgewehr, "assault rifle" in German). However, StG44s were in short supply, and certainly wouldn't have been issued to "placeholder" troops as they were too valuable.
Also he should have been VERY interested in that gun because he probably wouldn't have ever seen one before.
The battle was fought in bitterly inclement weather yet snow is almost completely absent from this film. It was not until the weather cleared and flight operations began that the battle was won, yet the only plane in the film is the scout plane.
Several times the German soldiers are called to attention by someone saying "Achtung" which is normally used as a warning. The actual German military command is "stillgestanden". This is a very common mistake in war movies.
An American reconnaissance plane is shot down by German tanks while flying overhead at several hundred feet. This would've had to be a one in a million shot as German tanks did not carry anti-aircraft flak rounds and even if they did, they couldn't have detonated at such a close distance. The guns of the tank would also have been loaded with armor piercing rounds because other tanks were the main threat so in this time sequence, had they identified an approaching aircraft, the would've had to remove the round already loaded, and load it with an flak round had they even carried them. It would've made more sense to fire on an approaching aircraft with machine guns than wasting a tank round. In addition, with so many tanks so close together and all the noise created by it, I doubt they would've even heard that plane let alone see it with the way the visibility was in the movie.
In his initial briefing of Colonel Hessler, General Kohler identifies the King Tiger tank as being 'new' in November 1944. However, the King Tiger was first introduced to combat in July in 1944 in Normandy and in September 1944 on the Eastern Front. Further, General Gray correctly identifies it when shown the photograph that Colonel Kiley took over the Ardennes. That shows that he was aware of its existence.
During the train sequence, when the train is delivering big guns, the film cuts between views of the train on the track and views from the footplate. The two views are clearly of different tracks. The track shown from the footplate has clearly visible overhead electrification pylons. The views of the track showing the train do not have electrification pylons.
As the film opens Henry Fonda's plane is chasing the German command vehicle on the ground. As the vehicle speeds along the tires squeal as the vehicle makes each turn, however the vehicle is on a dirt road and rubber tires don't squeal on dirt.
Several times the German soldiers are called to attention by someone saying "Achtung" which is normally used as a warning. The actual military command is "stillgestanden". This is a very common mistake in war movies.
When Col. Martin Hessler musters his new panzer troops, they are said to be raw recruits, and he is reluctant to go to battle with them (until they convince him of their worthiness by singing the "Panzerlied"). However, many of the soldiers sport military awards such as the tank battle award or the close combat award, and some - including the first two he meets - wear Iron Crosses, the highest German award for bravery in battle. In other words, at least half of them are hardened battle veterans and would easily be recognized as such by an experienced officer such as Col. Hessler.
At the end of the film German Col. Hessler wants to capture the American fuel dump intact.
What did he hope to obtain? American trucks and tanks ran of gasoline. German tanks ran on diesel. The fuels are not interchangeable.
When Lt. Col. Kiley attempts to shoot Col. Hessler at the Our River bridge, the German infantrymen who dismount in response shout various lines like "Es kam von da oben" ("It came from up there") and "Da sind sie" ("There they are"). The foleys of these lines are also used (repeatedly) in subsequent scenes (such as the capture of Lt. Weaver and Sgt. Duquesne), even though they are entirely inappropriate to the events being depicted; they are simply being used as "generic German dialogue."
The bazookas used by the Americans are actually Spanish M-65 rocket launchers, introduced after World War II. In addition, the M-65 uses an 89mm rocket, while the American M1, M1A1, M9 bazookas used a 60mm rocket, although the German Panzerschreck, introduced in 1943, used an 88mm rocket.
In the beginning of the movie when Kiley visits Gen. Grey in the headquarters, Grey says to a soldier near the Christmas tree, "Step outside". If you watch this soldier carefully it's clear that he's just standing there, waiting for the order. In fact, he looks at Grey and then starts leaving too early, before the command is given.
The Germans discuss that they will be using jets against the allies, and look at some models of them. However, the models look nothing like the Messerschmitt Me-262 or the Heinkel He-162, the two jet fighters the Germans actually did use in the war.
As Hessler approaches Ambleve he is seen riding in the hatch of his tank as it moves forward. He raises a pair of binoculars and the subsequent shot is shown POV through the binoculars. The image of the town is completely stable, but should have been jostled about as the tank was moving forward. The next shot show Hessler once again astride the moving Tiger, binoculars in hand.
When Henry Fonda's character first meets Telly Savalas' character blocking the road, Savalas shouts, "Hold it! Hold it!". The shot changes and Savalas shouts "Hold it! Hold it!" again. It is obvious that this is the same recording played slightly quieter.
At the end, while the credits are rolling, a fly-over scene of the battlefield is shot. At first the camera's perspective seems to be looking down and back from the rear of the filming aircraft, on the abandoned tanks and burning equipment. However, notice the smoke moving down into the wreckage. The film is being run backwards. Later the same scene is shown correctly, looking down and forward of the aircraft.
When the Germans disguised as MPs parachute behind US lines, they are shown just as they've landed and are depicted as a tightly clustered group. In fact, paratroops (especially when they jump at night) tend to drift and scatter on the way down and require time to regroup upon landing.
When Hessler's tanks are bombing Amblève, you can see several houses being hit. When these houses explode, you can see that they are made of steel plates. There are no bricks, stones or pieces of concrete flying around.
When Kiley is at the Our River bridge and sees Hessler, he asks the sergeant for his rifle to shoot Hessler. The rifle does not have the rear sight assembly installed. Only the sight ears of the receiver are visible.