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!