We follow a band of American soldiers as they engage the Germans in a snowy, foggy winter near Bastogne in World War II. They're low on fuel, rations, and ammunition; the Germans are constantly encouraging their surrender via radio and leaflets, and most importantly, the pervasive thick fog makes movement and identification difficult and prevents their relief by Allied air support. This film focuses much more on the psychology and morale of the soldiers than on action footage and heroics.Written by
Michael C. Berch <email@example.com>
Screenwriter Robert Pirosh based this story on his experiences as an infantryman during the Battle of the Bulge. Pirosh did not serve with the 101st Airborne, and wanted to create a script that was faithful to their experiences. He used his first-hand knowledge of the battle to write the script. This was done with the blessing of General Anthony McAuliffe, who was commanding the 101st during the siege of Bastogne. Consequently, many of the incidents in the film, such as Private Kippton's habit of always losing his false teeth, or the Mexican-American soldier from Los Angeles, California, who had never seen snow until he got to Belgium, that have always been derided as "typical Hollywood phony baloney" actually happened. See more »
At one point, when the troops are all riding in the back of the moving truck, the truck is rocking from side to side along the rough road jostling the passengers. As the conversation centers on Hansan and he delivers a few lines, neither he nor anyone else is being jostled by the motion of the truck. See more »
Dedicated to the battered bastards of Bastogne, this major player in the war film genre is directed by William Wellman & tells the story of a U.S. Army division involved in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The terrific cast features George Murphy, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, Van Johnson and James Whitmore. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two - one for Robert Pirosh's bold and fluctuating screenplay and one for Paul Vogel's realism inducing black-and-white cinematography.
Battleground is an important war film in many ways. Coming as it did at the tail end of the 40s, it was not required to be a flag waving morale booster for a country at war. Free of this burden, Wellman & Pirosh (an actual veteran of the Bastogne engagement), crafted a grunts eye view of the war. Forcing us the viewers to spend the whole of the movie with one army squad (the 101st Airborne Division), we get to know them, their fears & peccadilloes etc. Pirosh cleverly telling it as it was, scared men doing their duty. It's that we have been with them as their persona's have been laid bare, that makes the battle sequences even more potent. The jokes have stopped, the camaraderie and harmless rivalries replaced by men crying for their mothers or in some mud hole fighting for their lives. This snow covered and fog shrouded part of Belgium a bleak canvas for the harshness of war (amazingly shot on the lot). It's a stunningly structured film, one that doesn't resort to type, it subverts the many war film plot developments that are rife in genre pieces that both preceded and came post its release.
The cast are uniformly strong, and all get get ample time to impact on the narrative. Something that isn't always the case with ensemble pieces. Somebody else was strong too, Producer Dore Schary, who had to fight an unconvinced Louis B. Mayer (MGM head man) to get the film made. Schary's faith in the piece was rewarded as the film became a critical darling and a box office winner. It's not hard to see why for this is a realistic and gritty look at the hardships of war and those that fought in it. Influencing many that followed it by entertaining without gusto histrionics, Battleground is still very much a template war film. 8.5/10
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