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This movie is based on a book by the same name that was a blatant
character assassination on Patton rushed out after the popularity of
the original movie "Patton" threatened to resurrect Patton as an actual
American folk-hero. The facts are that Patton was an
extremely-successful WWII general who commanded the US Third Army
during its famous attack across Europe into the heart of Germany to
bring down Hitler's government. After the war ended, he remained in
command of the 3rd Army for 5 months as it became an occupation force
in the southern portion of Germany that it controlled. Patton began to
be criticized during these initial months of the occupation by people
seeking to punish all of former Nazis, which in the Germany of that
time was roughly about 75 percent of the adults. Patton attempted to
deal pragmatically with the situation as he found it by using some of
these people to assist in getting essential transportation and
infrastructure operating again, much as McArthur eventually did in
Japan a few months later. Unfortunately, while Patton was an
outstanding general and administrator, he was a poor politician and the
long knives in Washington found him an easy target. Patton was removed
as 3rd Army commander in October, 1945 for being too 'friendly' with
the Germans and placed in command of a 'paper force' 15th Army. Two
months later in December, 1945, Patton was in a very minor traffic
accident in which he suffered a traumatic injury to his spinal cord
that led to his death a few days later. Ironically, Patton's
soft-handed approach to military administration in Germany was
ultimately followed by his successors and directly led to the
successful development of the powerful democratic government that
exists today in Germany.
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.
George C. Scott is excellent as is the rest of the cast in this compelling and very well made film. Most of the other posters seem to have missed the point of the film though. "Patton" 1970 was an epic war film which played on Patton's mythic status and personality extremes. Scott played it with such skill that he made it become more than just a war film and it took on the quality of a Shakespearean tragedy. Sequels in general have a hard time usually because they are lazy and thinly-veiled remakes of the original film they follow. The very few excellent sequels that I have seen take a new direction to the original and explore new territory e.g. French Connection 2. This is probably why "The Last Days of Patton" receives such low ratings - this film is not a war film at all, is not epic in scope or budget(being made for t.v.) and concentrates instead upon Patton's personal friendships, family, his youth and also the softer side to his character that was not really explored in "Patton". The story is quite sensitive and moving - very different to the original but in it's own way just as good. An excellent companion piece that complete's the Patton story.
... but it isn't as bad as the other commentators might make you
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.
This film, a made-for-TV sequel to the movie "Patton", is exceptionally well done. With essentially the same cast as the film, it follows the career of General George S. Patton from victory in Europe to his untimely death following an automobile accident in Bavaria. While the movie "Patton" portrays the brusque, sometimes profane side of General Patton, this sequel shows his softer side. He was a brilliant strategist and tactician but also felt deeply the role and demands of the common soldier, with whom he desired to be buried. The script for this film was derived from the book by Ladislav Farrago, author of the excellent biography "Patton". Farrago was a WWII OSS agent who experienced the rigors of war firsthand. At the time he wrote "The last days..." and writing about Patton's painful last days in the hospital, he was himself dying of cancer. His wife and son finished the work. This film is an important footnote to history and should be recorded on DVD.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Last Days of Patton shows the famous army commander of World War II
in the uncomfortable role of military governor of Bavaria where due to
his poor political judgment and lack of tact he got in all kinds of
problems. Eventually it led to his removal.
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.
if anything, george c scott's perfomance here is as exceptional as the patton movie, but deeper, and much more revealing. actually, an exceptional cast all around, this film while it may seem to drag a little, was superbly done. highly recommended.
I found this movie compelling to watch. Selecting only the final days of its subject's life, it is not really a biopic. There is no plot--the life of any person seldom has a plot. I call it a character study, probably the least spectacular of all dramas. What character studies lack in spectacle, they're supposed to make up for with a fascinating portrait of the subject's personality--like looking at a great oil painting of a famous person--except that it's a motion picture. Having said that, I found this film to be remarkably well done and could have been better were it not budgeted as a TV movie. I think the film's theme (rather than plot) is how a person handles his own impending death. When the subject is General Patton, a first-class soldier and real hero, a man who always wanted to die by the last bullet of the last battle of the last war of his life, and the circumstances of his dying is by a fender-bender that breaks his neck and renders him an invalid for 12 days, a recipe for a real dramatic character study emerges. How a man like Patton handled the absurdity of his transition to death is the human question that permeates the whole movie. It starts off by his return to the States for the first time since November 1942. He has his wife on his arm, and the couple is surrounded by reporters. The reporters demonstrate that, whether pro or con, Patton is a legend and he makes good copy. Beatrice at his side reminds us that he was also a family man--and a good one--a man who compliments his wife publicly. The film is filled with reminiscing flashbacks which shows two things: that Beatrice was a good match for Patton, particularly the scene where she drives the tank prototype, at her husband's request, to demonstrate the ease with which it can be driven before the Army brass; a man who is sorely tempted to see no more point to continue living is tugged one way by memories (thus, acknowledgment) of having lived a good life and tugged another way to put up a cheerful front in facing the absurd, anticlimactic present. Beatrice realizes this in a scene with General "Hap" Gay in a darkened hospital room where she reveals her understanding that her husband has everyone fooled by his charm and bravado--but her husband is slipping and he knows it. The movie shows that Patton's heroism was not an act put on for his soldiers or for the public or the press--nor was it self-delusion--his heroism ran deep--steeped as he was in his knowledge of history, his own ancestry and family, the film shows that the dying, invalid Patton was heroic in another way: he was kind and generous to his doctors and their staff; he tried greatly to spare his wife any unnecessary hurt. Even in his attitudes towards the de-Nazification policy--is not driven by any political motive. No real warrior takes any pleasure in seeing a vanquished people suffer after they've been disarmed. Given his upbringing and values he had demonstrated all his life, I believe that Patton saw his job as military governor of Bavaria to help the Bavarian people survive the winter and to get back on their feet. Even if he were wrong about de-Nazification, the film is interested in the character that drove the man. His attitude towards the Soviets was probably also driven by what he saw as very cruel and heartless conduct by the Soviet forces against the conquered German population. This movie is not for everyone. It will not entertain anyone who needs real spectacle to remain entertained. The natural audience for this kind of movie is a more mature--or emotionally deep--audience.
It is OK that they made a sequel concerning Patton's life at the end of
the war. Proud of his Anglo-Saxon heritage, he has some identification
with the Germans for this reason and because he was strongly
anti-communist. Whether he made some of the specific remarks he made
here is open to question (it can more easily be proved that he said
something than he did not say something, of course). In any event, it
is historically true that he made an impolitic remark that, like his
soldier-slapping, got him into trouble and transferred away from his
military governor position.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After studying Patton on my own and enjoying the first Patton motion picture that came out in 1970 I found that "The Last Days of Patton" did a remarkably excellent job of revealing the inner Patton. Although the movie is gut wrenching and I cried a lot because I'm a huge Patton fan I had to stick it out because he does in the film as he did in real life. We see the man away from the battlefield and out of the headlines. Anyone who studied Patton in-depth will notice some historical flaws but I thought the essence of Patton was brought out in this unique film. George C. Scott blew me away. I respect that he took on the challenge of showing Patton's human side. Reading about Patton first (especially his correspondence)will add to the viewing experience. Overall an extremely interesting and heartfelt tribute to a great American.
Following World War II and the events depicted in the wildly successful
"Patton" (1970), victorious George C. Scott (as George S. Patton)
remains in Germany to work on the defeated county's reconstruction. The
US general's decision to employ ex-Nazis (and sympathizers) irks
superior Richard Dysart (as Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower) and Patton is
reassigned to a desk job. Even worse, he is involved in a serious car
crash. While Mr. Scott suffers life-threatening injuries, flashbacks
continue to reveal events from General Patton's young adulthood (as Ron
Berglas). The title strongly hints our hero will very likely not
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
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