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Showing results for tags 'Edmund H. North'.
I remember my father taking me to see "Patton" in 1970, and being awestruck by the opening scene - the one where Patton comes and gives a speech in front of that *amazing* American flag - other than that, I remember it being really long! What a difference 47 years makes when it comes to seeing a film about the quirks and eccentricities of a WWII General. I'm not going to issue any spoilers, especially because this is all based on historical facts about the WWII North African Theater, and its three principles: Patton, Montgomery, and Rommel. Some historical facts which you should know about (and will know about, if you watch the film). Note that since the location for this part of the war (and film) was North Africa, you can assume these are in Morocco, Tunisia, etc. You can consider these spoilers if you really want to, but since you should know about the events anyway, I'm not marking them as such (don't feel badly - I didn't either). The Battle of the Kasserine Pass - The first major conflict between allied and axis troops, at the two-mile-wide Kasserine Pass in the Atlas Mountains of Tunisia, during which we got the shit kicked out of us: 6,500 American casualties with over 1,000 dead. It was this battle which the Americans, caught sleeping, decided to bring in General Patton to run the North African campaign, and he became a three-star general (and placed in charge of General Omar Bradley, a two-star general). The Battle of El Guettar - Rommel had planned a massive Panzer attack in southern Tunisia, but Patton was more than ready for them. The Germans were pretty much devastated, and at this point, the two rival leaders had each other's full respect (the amount of respect shown to other competent leaders and soldiers in this film is quite touching, and has nothing to do with politics - they're like boxers in the 15th round, slugging it out. --- Aside: One of my treasures - my absolute treasures - is my father's Master's Degree diploma from Columbia Universty, which is hand-signed by none other than University President Dwight David Eisenhower - he came home from the war, and served in that capacity from 1948-1953, and anyone who got a diploma during that time, received a hand-signature of Eisenhower on their diploma (note that this is *before* he was U.S. President, so people didn't know he was going to be *as* famous as he was). This isn't all that rare, or valuable, but just imagine how much it means to me. How much does it mean? When the last of my parents passed away, this is the *only* thing of theirs that I wanted, out of all their tangible possessions - I'm hoping that, two-hundred years from now, it will be passed down to a distant relative of mine, and they will treasure it nearly as much as I do (it would be comparable to having something hand-signed by Benjamin Franklin today). I'm so proud of my father for serving his country in WWII, even though he was "only" in Occupied Japan after the war as over (he was a chauffeur who drove a limousine for a general, and received an honorable discharge). For the lucky recipient of this diploma, here is our family tree. --- The Allied Invasion of Sicily - Patton, a whack-job who believes in reincarnation, destiny, fate, etc., vies with British Commander Montgomery for getting the glory in taking over Sicily. They're both willing to sacrifice foot-soldiers so *they* can get the headlines and the glory for having taken over the important Italian outpost. The Sicilian campaign reveals both Patton an Montgomery to be egocentric, self-centered generals who put themselves before their troops, and this is the first part of the film that concretely shows just what bad people they are - they don't care about the greater good; they care about having their name in spotlights. These are *exactly* the types of people who need to be the generals in a science-fiction film, invading the aliens (who have superior weapons) and in the process, gain a significant dose of humility by virtue of laser beams, electric heat-rays, etc. God, would it be *awesome* to see Patton taken down a couple of notches by being forced to be humble. I love this line: A reporter who brought some priests to join Patton on his march towards Palermo, said (in front of the priests), "Colonel Davis showed us around your quarters, General Patton, and I was interested to see a bible by your bed. You actually find time to read it?" Patton: "I sure do. Every God-damned day." Oomph, a really bad moment in the movie: Patton's forward-moving line is stalled because of a couple stubborn jackasses (literally, jackasses), and he openly complains about it, and then shoots them. But, there was very clearly a body-double that did the shooting, and they didn't make any type of effort to hide that fact - this is one of the worst scenes in the film, as this is clearly not George C. Scott (yet, the person shooting the jackasses has a three-star general's helmet on). To me, this stands out as being the worst individual moment in the film thus far. There have been several scenes which definitively show that Patton has no tolerance for "cowards" in his army. There is to be no "combat fatigue," no "cases of nerves," etc. He will openly scream in these soldiers faces, scream and call them "God Damned Cowards!" and send them back out to the front lines. A general sympathetic to human needs he most certainly was not. I would be fascinated to hear peoples' viewpoints on this complex man - perhaps someone who we needed in extraordinary times; but these extraordinary times have come about (I mean, *truly* come about) perhaps twice in the last century; the other 95% of the time, these guys are just plain crotchety old bastards - but when you *really* need them, you *really* need them. I'm pretty sure this film tried to stay true to the gist of real-life, so it wasn't embellished except for what was needed for dramatic effect. That said, there was *plenty* of dramatic effect - for example, when Patton was being criticized for not including Russia in a statement about post-WWII world-rule, a newsreel by "Senator Clayborne Foss" was entirely fictional (there was no Senator Clayborne Foss) - the clip used is bogus, so while the main facts of the movie are true, there are plenty of liberties taken. I suppose you could take this as a *** SPOILER ALERT *** The deeper you get into this film, the more you realize that Patton isn't in this war for the good of the world; he's in it for himself. Why should what *he* wants matter, when what an enlisted man wants doesn't matter - at least when it comes to individual needs and also the greater good? I'm 2/3 of the way through the film now, and I'm liking Patton as a person less-and-less, and although he might be the person I'd want leading me in combat (and I mean "in the field of battle"), I don't think I'd want him making strategic decisions, because his first priority always seems like it's for himself. I wonder if the real General Patton was this much of an egoist? This all said, the personal rivalry between Patton and Montgomery was *highly* amusing. Patton said it best: "Hell, I know I'm a prima donna - I admit it. The thing I can't stand about Monty is that he *won't* admit it." Of course, all the humor quickly evaporates when Operation Market Garden costs Patton's troops an unspeakable amount of casualties. I have to say, the ending of this movie resonated more with me than the ending of any movie I've seen in a long, long time.
Like the 1939 Jimmy Stewart classic, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," Washington, DC residents can revel in the scenery of "The Day the Earth Stood Still," as virtually the entire film takes place inside the city, and you'll see numerous places you recognize, filmed 66-years ago (make sure you don't watch the 2008 remake, which is supposed to be pretty awful). Except it wasn't exactly "Mr. Smith" who came to Washington in this film - not by a long-shot. *** SPOILER ALERT *** A spaceship, circling the earth at 4,000 mph, plops down in the middle of the mall in DC, and out strides Klaatu (Michael Rennie, whom I just saw in episodes 16 and 17 ("Fly Away Home, Parts 1 and 2") on "Route 66" - why Rennie didn't become more famous after playing Klaatu is beyond my comprehension. Klaatu is a tall, debonair, handsome alien, at first dressed in a twinkly spacesuit, and carrying some sort of baton-like instrument which makes all the soldiers panic, and one of them shoots it out of his hand. "It was a gift for your President," Klaatu said - it would have helped him study life on other planets. So, once again, our "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality implants the bullet directly into our own foot. Unfortunately for Earth, after Klaatu is wounded, out comes the tremendously imposing Gort, an 8-foot tall robot with a "death ray" which he can shoot from his eye (sounds odd, but it's quite effective). After destroying the soldiers' guns (but leaving the soldiers unharmed), Gort picks up Klaatu, and carries him back into the ship, before reemerging to stand guard. Gort is made of the same, impregnable material as the spaceship - impervious to every known human weapon - lasers, diamond drills, everything. And now we wait. The President of the U.S.A. wants to meet with Klaatu, but Klaatu doesn't care about America - he wants to address all the leaders on Earth simultaneously. When told that's impossible due to political conditions, he decides to give a harmless show of power in case they don't agree: For exactly 30 minutes, he shuts off all electricity on the planet - all electricity, that is, except for airplanes in flight, hospitals, and other situations that would bring harm to people. This causes worldwide panic. Klaatu decides to integrate among the earth's population, so he sneaks out, looking dapper in a suit, rents a room in a DC house, and makes friends with a little boy, Bobby (Billy Gray who played Bud on "Father Knows Best" - you won't recognize him), taking him out for an entire afternoon of fun. He sees the problems in our culture, and only sees peace and harmony in this child. Klaatu sustains a relatively minor injury, and is immensely worried about Gort going into "automatic protection mode" - he gives Bobby's entrusted mother (Patricia Neal) a three-word order ("Klaatu barada nikto") to stop Gort from hurting anyone, and makes his way back to the ship. He turns towards the leaders of Earth, and gives a long, moral speech - his planet is a member of sort of an "interplanetary United Nations" that has been watching Earth. They didn't worry about the planet's own infighting, i.e., WWII, but now that they're nearing the ability to have space travel, they're worried that they'll take their newfound nuclear capabilities, and cause harm to other planets. He says, in no uncertain terms, that Earth's inhabitants have two choices: 1) Work out their violent tendencies, or 2) Face total destruction. Klaatu then gets back into the ship, after releasing his friend - the boy's mother - gives a friendly nod to Bobby, and takes back off into outer space, and the movie ends, with the Earth obviously left to ponder its ultimate future. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" may not be a "great movie," but it's one of a handful of 1950s science-fiction films worth watching - it's an important and influential film.