The Last Days of Patton (1986)

 

 

Director: Delbert Mann.
 

Starring: George C. Scott (General George S. Patton Jr.), Eva Marie Saint Mrs. Bea Sayers Patton), Richard Dysart (Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower), Murray Hamilton (Gen. 'Hap' Gay), Ed Lauter (Dr. Lt.Col. Paul S. Hill), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Patton's Mistress), Don Fellows (Lt.Gen. Walter Bedell Smith).


Following the end of World War II, loose cannon General Patton publicly defends ex-Nazi government officials and forces General Eisenhower to remove him from his position. Eisenhower puts him in charge of writing the military history. On the eve of his retiring, he is mortally wounded in an automobile accident and flashbacks on his life.

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

June 8, 1945.  Boston.  Patton is home after an absence of two years and seven months. 

July 5, 1945.  Bavaria, Germany.  Patton is the new military governor of Bavaria.  His superior, Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith wants Patton to fire any governmental staff that were Nazis.  Patton, however, has his own ideas.  He says he needs the former Nazis in order to built an effective government in Bavaria.  Gen. Eisenhower learns of Patton's insubordination and flies to Munich to talk with the man.  He gives him a firm reprimand. 

Patton gets in political trouble because he says "I could push the Russians all the way to Moscow." 

Flashback to 1918, Camp Cole, Pennsylvania.  Patton and Ike were at the camp together. 

September 28, 1945.  Patton gets in more trouble when he says that Germans following the orders of Hitler were no more threatening than postal officials in the United States following the directives of the Democratic or Republican parties.  People are beginning to think there is something wrong with Patton.  Ike forces him to give up command of the Third Army.  Instead he is given command of the Fifteenth Army, which is largely a paper army.  He now commands only a small staff of writers working on various aspects of World War II history.

October 8, 1945.  Bad Nauheim, Germany.  Patton arrives to take over command of a handful of "clerks".  Patton is very mad at the way he has been treated.  It has been six months since the war ended. 

December 9, 1945.  Patton takes a car ride with his buddy Gen. 'Hap' Gay to go pheasant-hunting south of Mannheim.  This is the day before Patton is set to retire and fly back home to the United States.  A huge army truck turns left in front of Patton's car and causes an accident.  Everyone is all right except Patton.  He was knocked off his seat and injured his neck severely.  He complains of having trouble breathing and thinks he is paralyzed. 

Heidelberg.  Patton is in the hospital.  He fractured the third and fourth vertebrae in his neck and is paralyzed from the neck down.  His wife travels to the hospital to be with her husband. 

December 10, 1945.  President Truman writes him.

The decision is made that Patton will be sent back to the United States.  This, however, puts Patton's life at risk since the journey will not be easy.  To reduce jostling the doctors create a chest cast for Patton, but this causes problems.  The cast does not allow the doctors to do a lot of necessary medical tests.

Patton develops an embolism in his upper right lung, but the doctor can't examine the aorta because of the cast.  But Patton hangs on.  His wife cries to the doctors "Why can't we let him go"?

December 21, 1945.  Finally Patton dies. 

 

An o.k. movie. The time Patton spends in the hospital is too long and drawn out.  The movie should have been shortened and it would have been more effective.  George C. Scott is excellent in the role of General Patton. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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