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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
i wholly disagreed with most of the other comments. brass target is one
of the best world war ii movies made. i do recall the tag line was
different that that reported on this sight. Patton thought he was about
to find who stole the Reichsbank gold and he ended up dead; millions of
dollars says there was a connection.
Brass Target is based on Frederick Nolan's book The Algonquin Project which appeared in the 1970s a period when fundamental assumptions could be called into question. Nolan tackled the tangled mess of the Patton assassination. Who ordered it? Was it The Russians whom Patton played here by grand eloquently by George Kennedy provoked, US politicians who found Patton distastefully attracted to the Germans, the Army full of pent up jealousies? Nolan hypothesized a connection between the looting of US occupied West Germany with Patton's demise allegedly in a mob styled rub out in an auto accident.
As the film opens, the great war was won but Patton has days left in Germany. For various faux pas, the great general has been ordered home in disgrace, but he's still investigating the disappearance of the Reichsbank gold. It's very difficult to get anything done even for the General with a less than gentle roar.
Though GC Scott is more like the diminutive wiry Patton, I think George Kennedy did a better job replicating Patton's bellow and hostility to the Russians who are always there to chide Patton about the virtual dissolution of the US Army.
Enter Major Joe De Lucca (John Cassavetes) New York born Italian - American with a gritty charm. Patton wants the thief who stole the Reichsbank gold found. The trail of corpses left behind in the cover-up leads Major Lucca across occupied Europe back to Comstack Correctional Facility to visit convicted NYC gangster Lou Costello who tells the Major that Army Intelligence already knows the answer.
Can Major Lucca make it back in time to warn General Patton? Even though history teaches you the answer to that question, the film keeps you riveted to the seat.
World War II is over, and the Allies set about cleaning up and helping
rebuild Europe. The Allies' most famous battle leader, General George
S. Patton, continues to alienate the Russians and doesn't like
attending to civil formalities of state. So, he gets canned by
Eisenhower and is ordered back to the States. But during all this time,
some $250 million in Third Reich gold had been discovered and then went
missing. Patton launches his own effort to find the thieves and
retrieve the gold.
This story line has all the makings of a good action-thriller, and "Brass Target" doesn't disappoint. It has a solid plot with much conjecture and fiction built around and woven through the real details of Patton's last months. The script is very good for a cast that delivers. There's just enough intrigue to keep us guessing from one scene to the next, as culprits come to light one by one. But amidst this, the one big theme develops with the hiring of a top assassin to eliminate Patton. There's much more to this, and part of the intrigue for the viewer is wondering what next step in his plan the assassin will lay out and expose to the audience.
George Kennedy is excellent as Patton, and Robert Vaughn turns in a first-rate performance in his role. John Cassavetes does justice as the top intelligence officer digging into the theft. Sophia Loren and Patrick McGoohan give very good performances. And the consummate cool and calculating Max von Sydow excels in the type of role he has played before.
Some comments I've seen about the film are disparaging because of the fictitious plot. But that's precisely what makes it a movie different from the account of Patton's accidental death otherwise. If people don't like fiction in film, they can avoid movies purposely built around fictitious aspects. Come to think of it, they should probably stop watching all movies. But the rest of us can sit back and really enjoy films like this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film tackles a very serious subject of the sudden and violent
post- war (Dec 45) death of General George Patton.
The film builds up to the denouement of showing this death to be an assassination, something I have thought was a distinct probability given the enemies he made during and post the Allied victory over Germany. The story line of the motivations behind the assassination is built up around the theft a huge quantity of the gold that the National-Socialist government had accumulated that went "missing in action" so to speak. The film shows a train hi-jack of the gold , though not sure if that happened, but huge quantities of gold did disappear post-war Germany and was never found.
Whether this was really the route (and the root) of the motivations behind the events which led to his sudden death is debatable but I am very intrigued as to whether or not the death of Patton as shown here was a reasonable accurate re-creation of that death, something which sadly appears not to worry too many of the previous reviewers. The build-up to the set-up so that his vehicle came round a bend and hit a parked lorry seemed to be well done and just how you would expect an "accident" to be pre-arranged.
Kennedy's portrayal of Patton's aggressive Anti-Soviet, anti-communism, with the post-war Red Army command's behaviour having no difficulty coming right down to meet the low expectations Patton had of them seemed well done.
Patton had many enemies in the US. One of the things that he did to infuriate those who wanted to use the Allied victory to unleash a vindictive payback over and against the defeated enemy was to release the Post-War POW's under his jurisdiction, the only set of Post-war POW's to be set free during that time to go back home instead of suffering and dying of starvation and disease in unsheltered open fields surrounded by barbed-wire and shot at by guards as was the fate of others German solders in these post-war death camps.
These Germans were to be made to pay time and again for their collective sin, with a usurious rate of interest, so that punishment and retribution was to be their fate. Patton wasn't interested in such policies once the victory had been won but his internal enemies were.
He was recalled to the US and was due to go home imminently and had already been stripped of his executive powers but Patton's enemies could well have thought that they needed to get their pay-back time in quickly before he did get back to the US and start to interfere with their plans against post-war Germany because of his high-status in the US despite their incessant campaigns to undermine his credibility.
So an uneven film methinks with some good parts and some bad but the slices of good parts giving food for thought about the great man's demise.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a military history buff as well as a big fan of McGoohan (I'm a big Prisoner fan and most movies I see him in because of it), I'm also curious whenever I see Ed Bishop who I liked in UFO as CDR Styker, Captain Blue from Captain Scarlet, etc etc, and I have loved Cassavetes in the few films I've seen him in (The Killers, Dirty Dozen, Rosemary's Baby). So being how I'm in a foreign land with limited entertainment on the TV, I made sure to check out this flick on TCM UK. One things for sure it took guts for George Kennedy to play Patton after George C Scott did it, because NO ONE could hope to get close to that performance; as a result Kennedy doesn't really try hard (Luckily his role is somewhat minor). The beginning is good and than McGoohan comes in and it's pretty bad (sorry to say :-( ). His dialog is rather uncomphrensable in his bad American accent, so mercifully he gets killed pretty quick (totally saw most of the deaths here coming). So thats strike one, weak McGoohan performance. Strike two Cassavettes looks really really old in half of this film. He looks like a late age Jerry Orbach, so he really doesn't look like the commando OSS stuff that a Sterling Haydon (who actually was in his 20's) would have looked like. He also is just going through the motions here so he really brings the movie down as the lead. Sophia Loren who gets top billing has an unneeded minor role, she also looked better 20 years later in the grumpier old men movie (miracles of modern medicine), so she's no added attraction (although there are a couple of cuties in the film). Von Sydow is good (as usual), so I guess he kept it going for me. Also, I did manage to stay with it because I kept wanting to know how he was going to kill Patton with a rubber pellet in a movie car with the window up (all explained so those gaping holes got filled in). Vaugn and Hermann are also a funny footnote as two Gay Colonel's (Vaugn gets caught with the help even!). All in all, if your in the isolated middle east with lack of entertainment it's worth your 2 hours of time (but thats a big if!). 6 out of 10 for the nice tidy ending where most of the bad guys die.
"Brass Target", lambasted by critics, is actually very enjoyable
entertainment. It's very much like a spy story, featuring machinations
Robert Vaughn, an army officer in Germany immediately after the war, engineers a train robbery in which 59 soldiers are ruthlessly gassed to death. He has conspired with Edward Herrmann, his bed buddy, and Patrick McGoohan, among others. They've made off with $250 million of gold, never found. General Patton (George Kennedy) was in charge of it. After being chastised by a Russian general for losing the gold, Kennedy vows to recover it. Vaughn, fearing the General's tenacity, arranges to have him assassinated by an unknown but top-notch hit-man, Max von Sydow. The idea is to make it look like an accident. Meanwhile, Bruce Davison has brought John Cassavetes into the case to locate the gold and robbers, he having been quite the operative earlier in the war and having himself led a similar attack on a train in a tunnel. Cassavetes knows both McGoohan and von Sydow, but the latter has always maintained cover stories. He is known for some shady dealings but not as an assassin certainly, and he carefully covers all his tracks. All three have in common that they have been lovers of Sophia Loren, who has managed by this means to avoid becoming a penniless and driven refugee. Her role in the plot is critical to Cassavetes' success or failure in two places that relate to him in his hunt for the unknown assassin, von Sydow.
The cast does a great job. In his rather small part, Herrmann is a nervous Nellie. Vaughn is excellent. I cannot possibly analyze what, in his case, goes into a lifetime of acting and immersion into acting and directing from age 4. I can only report that the result is his top-notch ability to capture the screen and hold our interest without any obvious gimmickry. The same is present in the acting of his friend, James Coburn, evident in the film I just reviewed of his, "The Internecine Project". These actors project a fully-formed character, and we sense it in their emotional level both evident and submerged and their movements, those we expect and those we do not. George Kennedy clearly decided to play Patton his own way, very differently from George C. Scott's version. He lets his New York accent come through. He's loud and confrontational, not what we expect. Von Sydow is a great, great actor. Anything he's in is worth taking in. His role here is quite substantial. Cassavetes is strong, and has the Italian capacity to use his eyes very expressively. McGoohan goes out of his way to create a novel character, with an affected American accent that underscores my typical refrain that British actors have enormous difficulty doing American. Sophia Loren floats through the story, finally making a commitment.
The script is terse, not explaining quite a bit of the action. One must stay on one's toes to follow what's going on. It's sometimes preceded by only a sentence or two. The challenge here is that Vaughn is trying to cover his tracks and get rid of Cassavetes too, and von Sydow is also engaged in covering his tracks as an assassin.
The criticism heaped upon this movie surprises me. Part of it is a vain search for historical truth. Movies like this don't so that. They're made up stories. History is often simply a jumping off point.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One day I might. So far I have watched the half-hour Macauley
Mini-Movie. That has already earned Brass Target 9 out of 10, so the
whole movie could well be a classic of epic proportions.
Patrick McGoohan makes his entry to the movie a short way in, after a classy prologue explains the plot of the movie itself. Colonel Macauley is found, lording it up in a German castle, captured by the Allies. He is dressed in an alpine woolly jumper, with a gay Austrian titfer, complete with feathery knick-knack in the hat-band. He has been sought out by embittered OSS veteran John Cassavetes. Cassavetes is obviously fond of the old warrior. He knows Macauley is a ne'er-do-well shyster these days, but in an odd kind of way he still trusts him. Cassavetes seeks his help in the investigation of a huge Reichs-Gold theft but leaves disappointed, eventually, after watching Macauley enjoying a sampling of the best German wines his new Bultler can find for him, in the cellar of the castle. Sophia Loren arrives and the gallant Macauley beckons her within his gatehouse sweeping a low bow to the Italian beauty as he removes his hat, flashing but briefly his chestnut hair.
Shortly thereafter the scene changes and Macauley is in a jeep. he is in his smartest brown American uniform and after his mildly dissolute appearance of yesterday, we glimpse the soldier that so impressed the earnest Cassavetes. Macauley is, as we say in England, a little bit crooked but he next meets a truly evil man. Bobby Vaughn plays an utterly amoral corrupter of men. He even shocks the swindling Logistics Colonel. Sadly for Macauley he is a victim of his own weaknesses and has no choice other than to be sucked further into a dark plot that has already murdered 50 of his fellow Americans and now seeks the assassination of the greatest General in the Army: Patton.
Macauley has to meet with creepy assassin Max Von Sydow, at his most chilling Scandinavian best. He hands over $500,000 for the 'Hit'. We are becoming conscious that whilst Macauley is sleep-walking into this mire of murderous intent, his conscience may send him to Cassavetes at some point, to undo this madness he has embroiled himself in. First however Macauley must relax after the tension of his meeting with the cold gunman. He is met, not by his expected paramour, but by a mysterious and beautiful Fraulein. She persuades him he can trust her by stripping to her brassiere. At this point McGoohan, as Macauley comments, as he eyes her up and down, that he has had a "hard, hard day" or perhaps he said he'd had a "hard, hard time". I'm not sure which, because by then I was giggling at McGoohan's mischievous performance. I must make notes next time. The young lady leads him to the bathroom, which is rapidly filling with steam and Macauley asks her if there will be Bubbles? Assured there will, he happily heads inside, singing a little bubbles song to himself.
The Fraulein sits down revealing a tidy leg clad in suspenders and stockings. This was promised for Macauley. Unfortunately Bobby Vaughn, guessing that Macauley will inevitably betray the evil plot to Cassavetes, has sent an assassin, who garrotes Macauley whist the poor man was waiting for Bubbles to arrive. We know Macauley is dead because John Cassavetes checks his corpse in the next scene, in the Mortuary.
Patrick McGoohan has now left the building.........
Fun little 70's "what if?" movies that ties in two unrelated things and tries to connect them, and then tries to invent conspiracy theories. It's like Inglorious Basterds 1970s style. There's a plot out to kill Patton (played rather George-Kennedishly by George Kennedy) and it's up to John Cassevetes and Sophia Loren to stop it! Oh yes, there's a gold theft in there somewhere as well, as well as the story of the assassin too. Somewhat hard to follow, but enjoyable nevertheless. Max Von Sydow is so smarmy and greasy here, he steals the show. OH RIGHT, there's also the amazing Robert Vaughn, playing WAY over type, playing a general with a secret gay boyfriend. So good!
Brass Target has as its plot premise the fact that George S. Patton's
automobile accident which left him paralyzed with a broken neck that
eventually killed him was really an assassination. For the more
traditional view I suggest you see Patton: The Last Days which starred
the most famous Patton of all George C. Scott.
250 million dollars in gold bullion from the Third Reich is robbed and the perpetrators are a group of OSS men headed by Robert Vaughn. These guys were doing this sort of stuff during the war and apparently saw no reason that they shouldn't pull one last job with a heist that would certainly insure them a comfortable old age. The problem is that a whole train load of GIs are killed in a tunnel during the heist.
Which brings in John Cassavetes late of the OSS who was the author of a heist plan that was a dead ringer for what the robbers used. Which gives Cassavetes a good head start in an investigation, but not exactly a smoking gun.
After George S. Patton played here by George Kennedy is called out by the Russians for his laxity, that's something no one can accuse Patton of. He takes personal charge of the investigation and puts himself in an assassin's cross hairs.
I think a lot of good players got wasted here in a film that didn't make sense many times. You have to fill in a lot of gaps. Sophia Loren is in the film, top billed in a supporting role that doesn't make any sense. Max Von Sydow is the professional hit man that Vaughn and company hire sight unseen though on strong recommendation. Von Sydow was interesting and clever and is the best one in the film.
This is one urban legend that truly is a legend. As a film Brass Target is hardly legendary.
If you take Brass Target as a re-imagination of the situation in post-WWII Europe, similar to "Inglorious Basterds"©, this movie is easier to accept. However, any similarity to "Inglorious Basterds"© ends there. I feel this is a film made due to contractual obligations and maintaining SAG membership. The only reason I ever watched this film is because I was an extra in it, and even actually appear on screen for a second. Other than that, I MAY have been tempted to watch it once by some of the names, in particular Patrick McGoohan and George Kennedy, but other than my own one second of film glory, I wouldn't own it. The plot is completely implausible. I feel the actors make the best of it out of sheer professional pride. Here's a trivia point for you IMDb© keepers out there: Many of the extras are actually U.S. Army personnel recruited from troops serving in Munich at the time the movie was shot.
The film is set in post-war Europe and an American Army train loaded
with gold is blown up and its contents robbed. The film mostly consists
of the efforts taken to discover who is responsible. Considering the
film is about a violent gold robbery and its investigation, the film is
amazingly dull. Much of it can be blamed on the indifferent direction,
the very poor casting of stars in the various roles as well as the
script which practically put me to sleep. It's not a terrible film but
one that should have been so much better.
As far as my problems with the film, the most noticeable was the casting. George Kennedy seemed odd as Patton but others made even less sense...such as a very, very young looking Bruce Davison playing a full colonel and John Cassevetes as a major who simply scowls all the time. None of the other stars were particularly distinguished as well and the film has the look of a star-studded affair instead of a film honestly trying to tell a good story.
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