Brass Target (1978) Poster


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The anti climactic end to the European war
lord woodburry10 February 2007
Warning: 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.
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Intrigue, plot twists and superb cast make this a first-rate thriller
SimonJack21 April 2013
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.
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Slices of good parts giving food for thought about the great man's demise
rogertaylor194710 September 2009
Warning: 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.
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I Stayed With It
Ralph20 May 2005
Warning: 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.
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One Day I May Watch This Movie
Moor-Larkin31 July 2008
Warning: 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.........
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Any movie that casts Robert Vaughn as a scheming gay general gets my vote.
Spuzzlightyear2 May 2013
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!
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Not a great film, but not entirely bad
glad_dad7 September 2011
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.
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Good head start
bkoganbing21 May 2014
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.
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Better casting could have saved a lot
I.K7 December 2000
I saw this movie just by accident on TCM when I was surfing through the channels.

The movie tells the story how just after World War II, a train carrying 250 million dollars in gold from the German Reichsbank is hijacked by renegade U.S soldiers. When the Russians hear about it they are furious and want the gold back since it should be shared by all the allies, General Patton, old "Blood & Guts" a well known anti-communist takes it his job to retrieve every single bullion to show off to the Soviets.

While the story gets a promising start it bogs down a bit after the first 30 minutes, the story gets just too unfocused also the casting could have been better, Sophia Loren is far from convincing and McGoohan is certainly not at his best, if Hough would not have tried to get more audience by starring a lot of big names like Loren and Montague and just have hired other actors who could played the characters more convincingly this could have been a better film.
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Truly a lost gem....Day Of The Jackal (1973)... set in post WWII 1945. WOW.
citizenamir15 February 2018
Superb movie with brilliant cast. Can't believe this film has been so forgotten. One for people who love classic thrillers.
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One of the Worst EVER
jiffy-223 June 1999
Boy, does this movie suck. The plot was confusing. Apparently George Patton was assassinated and there was a conspiracy to cover up the fact. George Kennedy plays Patton as a rabid, foaming at the mouth moron. Sophia Loren has trouble with the English language.

Robert Vaughn is an officer and he's involved somehow. This has some of the worst lines ever. It's as if Ed Wood doctored the script. Absolutely pass on this unless you're a masochist.
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Poorly made movie.
Boba_Fett113825 March 2006
This was an extremely lacking WW II movie. The story is told poorly and most of the time is just mainly confusing. The movie also lacks in tension and the main characters in the story are handled in a boring and bad way.

The cast of this movie is truly impressive. George Kennedy, John Cassavetes, Sophia Loren, Robert Vaughn, Max von Sydow, Patrick McGoohan, Bruce Davison. All are great actors but the material they had been given to work with in this movie was just plain awful. None of the actors really get the opportunity to shine, due to the very poor directing and some weak, ridicules dialog. All of the characters in the movie are just totally uninteresting to follow. Sophia Loren's character is just pointless and works only distracting and causes the movie its pace to be even more lacking in speed. George Kennedy also really wasn't convincing as Gen. George S. Patton Jr. Robert Vaughn plays a villainous American colonel, who also happens to be a very active homosexual in the movie. This just feels totally pointless and was not needed at all for the story. Basically the only really interesting and good character is the hit-man played by the always dependable Max von Sydow. Cheering for the bad guy in a movie like this one, that's never a good sign. It was also sort of fun to see a young Bruce Davison, before he received real fame in the late '90's/00's.

The story itself really isn't that bad and was good enough to make this movie just as good and entertaining as movies like "Where Eagles Dare", "The Guns of Navarone" and "The Eagle Has Landed". However the story is told extremely muddled in the movie, which makes it hard to understand at times what is the main plot line of the movie. At first you think that the movie is about getting the stolen German gold stock back. However as the movie progresses it becomes obvious that the movie is about an assassination on General Patton instead and the movie turns into a whole different movie entirely, almost more in the same style as "The Day of the Jackal", which was made 5 years earlier. Needless to say that not all of the elements that happen in the story feel connected to each other.

The movie is also truly lacking in tension. The movie is slow paced and could had really used some action sequences. Instead, the movie is a slow and boring one to watch. Also because the story is so confusing and distorted, you never really connect to anything that happens in the movie. The characters feel really distant and the events in the movie are far from interesting or exciting and the movie also totally lacks in style and atmosphere.

So why should you watch this movie in the first place? I can think of no reason. It by no means is one of the worst movies ever made but it also most certainly isn't the best in its genre. It's a very poorly made movie, with weak directing and storytelling that feels like an huge waste of a great cast and a story that had quite some potential and deserved a better treatment. It's already an almost totally forgotten movie and it should better just stay that way as well.

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very good plot - very poor casting
bob-34722 February 1999
George Kennedy is a good actor, but not as Patton. Lee Montague might be a good actor but please!! Lucky Luciano!! he is not. the casting of the above people detracted from the plot.
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Even the best actors cannot save a worthless script.
silverauk24 August 2002
This movie is above all about officers driving in cars or jeeps, a tenth of the time is spent driving. The story is so flawless that you don't want to see the ending which is ridiculous. The famous actors do a lot trying to save the movie and Shelley (Max von Sydow) is just good as the killer but neither John Cassavetes (Major Joe De Lucca), Sophia Loren (Mara) or Robert Vaughn (Colonel Donald Rogers) can do more than read their lines and try to convince. The scene with Lucky Luciano (Lee Montague) in prison visited by Major De Lucca is artificial and does not fit in this movie. The scene in the hotel with the two MP's is not understandable, how does Colonel Donald Rogers know that Shelley is in there? How can Webber (Shelley as Max von Sydow) enter so easily the military installations as sergeant-major and have a military vehicle at his disposal? The story is full of things that you can't believe. I do not believe that General Patton (Georg Kennedy) was killed with what I have seen in this movie. The actors deserved a better script.
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Odd World War II film
blanche-27 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I taped this film off TCM but the title credits were missing from my tape, so I spent the entire movie trying to guess what year it was made. I'm proud to say, I was right on the money. And that for me was the big thrill of Brass Target. I'm not sure of the real historical background - whether the plot was made up or if there is an actual suspicion that General Patton was murdered. In this story, Patton launches a search for gold stolen by American soldiers, and a hit is put out on him. Max von Sydow, in a familiar role, is the hired hit man and believe me, he doesn't confine his activities to killing Patton. He kills everybody. Don't worry, that's not a spoiler.

John Cassavetes plays the soldier trying to identify the assassin. Sophia Loren is his girlfriend. She is there for star power. Patrick McGoohan is pathetic going for some sort of American accent. Then there's George Kennedy as Patton. He must have needed the money badly. Robert Vaughn and Edward Herrmann are gay soldiers who are in on the heist. Lucky Luciano is also involved somehow.

There is one really dandy scene at the end. See if you can find it if you're still watching.
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Amazingly dull...
MartinHafer18 June 2016
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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A puzzle with missing pieces .............
merklekranz20 September 2012
"Brass Target" is a rather frustrating film. It begins with a real grabber opening, the tunnel robbery of 250 million dollars in gold from a U.S. Army train. What follows is the story of an assassination contracted by the perpetrators on General George S. Patton due to his involvement in the robbery investigation. This does not make a whole lot of sense, since Patton was ordered back to the States in a few days, therefore the urgency to eliminate him seems rather pointless. Although the cast is strong, the screenplay is murky and confusing. Plot contrivances abound, especially a highly improbable code breaking. In the end, the exciting gold robbery is all but forgotten, making the movie rather forgettable as well. - MERK
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Not so good
Andrew McKay20 August 2005
Not one of the better films I've seen. In fact let me change that statement, I meant to say this has to be one of the worst I've seen.

The basic problem was the apparent lack of storyline. If I understood it correctly (and I might not have done) then a very large quantity of gold was hijacked from a train in a tunnel, and then disappeared without trace. It must've been difficult for the investigators figuring out which direction the hijackers went off in - with a choice of forward or backward on the train line in/out of the tunnel I guess the odds were overwhelming that the direction the gold took wasn't obvious.

If you are having trouble sleeping then this is the movie for you. The word "sucks" comes to mind, but to be honest I think someone must've plugged the colonic irrigation machine into a high voltage power line when they were putting this movie together.
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