7.5/10
5,882
74 user 21 critic

Battleground (1949)

True tale about a squad of the 101st Airborne Division coping with being trapped by the Nazis in the besieged city of Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944.

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writer:

Robert Pirosh (story and screenplay)
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Van Johnson ... Holley
John Hodiak ... Jarvess
Ricardo Montalban ... Roderigues
George Murphy ... 'Pop' Stazak
Marshall Thompson ... Jim Layton
Jerome Courtland ... Abner Spudler
Don Taylor ... Standiferd
Bruce Cowling ... Wolowicz
James Whitmore ... Kinnie
Douglas Fowley ... 'Kipp' Kippton
Leon Ames ... The Chaplain
Herbert Anderson ... Hansan (as Guy Anderson)
Thomas E. Breen Thomas E. Breen ... Doc
Denise Darcel ... Denise
Richard Jaeckel ... Bettis
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Storyline

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 <mcb@postmodern.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Story of Fifty Guys and a Girl! See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

20 January 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bastogne See more »

Filming Locations:

Oregon, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,631,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$10,293,960

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$13,666,420
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dore Schary completed the film twenty days under its original shooting schedule by instituting several other innovations. He also ordered twenty-five sets built on one soundstage, and then had Art Director Hans Peters map out in detail the terrain, action, and possible camera angles. Copies of these drawings were then given to Director William A. Wellman and Cinematographer Paul Vogel. Some of the sets were used several times over, as the film's actions shifted. See more »

Goofs

Holley hears Denise and Jarvess talking on the other side of the living room door and rushes into the corridor with a full cup of coffee. He takes one small sip and puts the now empty cup in his pocket. See more »

Quotes

Mess Sergeant: [Bastogne is about to be overrun and everyone is being rallied to defend the town, he runs into motor pool] Fall out and draw rifles and ammo right now!
motor pool PFC: [shuts down motor he's working on] Chow?
Mess Sergeant: You ain't even warm! Follow me all of you, on the double!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Lianna (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
(uncredited)
Written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie
Sung by the soldiers
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Battered Bastards Of Bastogne.
10 March 2011 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

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 Divsion}, 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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