The Last Days of Patton (1986 TV Movie)
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Based on Ladislas Farago's followup to Patton: Ordeal and Triumph (one of the source materials for the original film), Last Days shows Patton on his deathbed, and intercuts flashbacks, mostly of his early life, his courtship of Bea Ayers, his days at the Point and before the first world war. (Patton's adventures on Pershing's 1916 Punitive Expedition to Mexico, and in World War I could make another great film, in the right hands.)
Eva Marie Saint plays Bea very well, and it's always nice to see a pair of contemporaries playing an aging couple, rather than allowing the casting to be dictated by "who's hot," and then relying on makeup to age them.
Overall, a good movie, although I'm tempted to agree that is was an unnecessarily long movie.
George C. Scott resumes where he left off in his Academy Award winning film role of Patton. We've added some characters here as well, most notably Eva Marie Saint as Beatrice Patton and Richard Dysart as Dwight Eisenhower.
In the first film Ike was unseen and only spoken about. Dysart does a very good job in his role where he finally has it out with his old friend and comrade. Back in the days after World War I, both of those guys were recognized as people of ability who would wind up in prominent roles if America got into another war. Both recognized the possibilities of the tank being the chief weapon of a future conflict.
It was a dirty job and Ike didn't want to do it, but Patton's use of former Nazis and indiscreet comments on political matters left him with no choice. Dysart portrays him as he was in real life, not afraid to make the big decisions when needed.
Patton's death is one of the most bizarre ever. The jeep in which he was traveling got into a minor fender bender, but Patton was possibly sitting wrong. The jolt snapped his neck making it one of the worst whiplash situations ever.
It's probably true that he willed himself to die. He could not see himself as a quadriplegic for the rest of his life and if that were the case he'd make sure it was a short while.
As in the first Patton film, The Last Days of Patton is a story of a pure warrior, a modern Achilles if you will who did not fit in other than in times of war. It's a well done television film, one of the best ever done.
The 'Last Days of Patton' movie and book paint a picture of a brooding, dark figure based on undocumented, unreferenced, and unsubstantiated claims that appear to have been fabricated as a crude character assassination and are totally at odds with facts and published reminisces of people who knew and worked closely with Patton, particularly Eisenhower and Bradley. For further background, read 'The Eisenhower Diaries' by Dwight Eisenhower (who later became the 34th US President), 'A Soldier's Story' by Omar Bradley, and 'War as I Knew It' by George Patton. Patton was one of the last of the American leaders who acted based on their 'old-fashioned' beliefs in Duty, Honor, Principle, and Character rather than on the work of the assassins and spinmeisters who tend to predominate today.
But after he is seriously injured (spinal column and paralysis) in the auto accident, the movie drags on way too long, over an hour when he is in a hospital bed. There are reminisces from him and many parties, flashbacks, and many well wishers and helpers. The problem is that nothing really happens of significance, it is just a failed attempt at tear-jerking. Patton himself was fiery, so not a person who lends to easy identification with all the softness. For those worried about being bored, I would stay away or leave halfway through. Clearly, a maximum of 20 minutes was needed to cover this period and the director's insistence on doing much more wrecked the movie, in my book. Adding to the pre-injury time would have been a better decision.
Think about it for a moment, just days or weeks after the end of what happened in the movie Patton ended, the general was critically injured in a freak auto accident. He remained paralyzed with a vice-like device screwed into his head for a short time until he died as a result of these injuries. All this, plus a couple flashbacks are the entire basis for this movie!!! Dull, depressing and a waste of time!
This belated sequel to "Patton" (1970) appeared as a CBS-TV three-hour (including commercials) epic movie. It was a popular success, but surprisingly garnered only one "Emmy" award (for make-up) and one further nomination. Allyn Ferguson's music lost, but it is one of this story's main strengths. It evokes the 1940s. The more critically acclaimed 1970 film won most of that year's "Oscar" awards. It featured make-up and music that looked and sounded more like 1970 than the 1940s. The soundtrack music was beautifully composed, but Jerry Goldsmith should have added 1940s flavor, as Mr. Ferguson does...
Scott continues to breathe life into the role for which he is most famous. There isn't much excitement left in Patton's life, but Scott and director Delbert Mann manage to move it along well, considering. Both this sequel and the original 1970 "Patton" will seem too long for the average viewer. Along with an improvement in setting, "The Last Days of Patton" boasts superior supporting performances. Most valuable player is Murray Hamilton (as Hobart "Hap" Gay). And, Patton's love-life is well-represented by cheated-on wife Eva Marie Saint (as Beatrice Ayer) and former "Dark Shadows" TV regular Kathryn Leigh Scott (as Jean Gordon).
******* The Last Days of Patton (9/14/86) Delbert Mann ~ George C. Scott, Murray Hamilton, Eva Marie Saint, Kathryn Leigh Scott
SPOILER!----- that is if you didn't know this already! This is what I mean about 'pay back"-------for a man like General Patton to die in bed as the result of an automobile accident is the most humiliating thing that could ever happen to him. It certainly was "payback" and more--- for anything he ever did wrong.
He was "a born warrior".
As we learned in the first movie, the General believed in reincarnation------ believed that he had fought in many places," in many times and many guises"-maybe he fought in Viet Nam, maybe he is in Iraq today!
I enjoyed the film a great deal, even though I think it could have benefited by some reduction in the length. The ending was quite moving- -giving us a personal glimpse into the last moments of a living, breathing human being--instead of just a decorated martinet. It forced me to turn my thoughts to my own mortality and the events that have shaped my own life. As a result, I had a long and fruitful discussion with my parents which had been long over due.
I'd recommend the film highly, giving it an "8" out of 10.
The other one is in THE LAST DAYS OF PATTON, when George C. Scott (as General Patton) makes his SINGING DEBUT by performing the the suggestively dirty little soldier's ditty "Lily From Piccadilly, The Blackout Queen".
Either of these performances is more than adequate induce hysterical laughter, projectile vomiting, or the blank, glazed eyed, frozen stare that only the total and utter disbelief in what your eyes and ears are telling you can produce.
Trust me on this one.
George must have done this turkey strictly for the money. Except for the singing, he could have mailed in his performance.
Romantic interludes, silly digressions (like Patton singing a song to an audience at his b-day party), and tons of other padding stretch this dud to nearly 2 1/2 hours. Scott does his schtick as the stern rough-voiced commander (incidentally, Patton had a squeaky high-pitched voice) and the result is a replay of the posing puke in the first movie.
A waste of time, and as for Patton dying in a low-speed car accident, it served him right for putting himself above the Army by trying to be 'colorful' with his fancy pistol and juvenile behavior.