Patton (SE)/A-,B+
Fox/1970/169/ANA 2.35

    George S. Patton, Jr. is potent ammunition for the guns of biographers. The biopic is no exception. Depicting several of Patton's tumultuous campaigns during World War II, Patton delivers the flamboyant general with rapid fire precision.
    While the big moments are rightly spectacular in Patton, Franklin J. Schaffner's film is really about the enigmatic man. Quieter, more meditative moments are especially effective. Patton muses at past battles at the site of an ancient battlefield or admires the daring of the opposing General Rommel. The competition with Britain's Field Marshall Montgomery is treated by robust humor.

DVD Menu: Patton's image becomes part of the flag. ©Fox

    One of the great screen performances is of course at the core of Patton. George C. Scott delivers Patton with more conviction and vigor than a great general leading his troops in a decisive battle. Scott explores the character with rare insight, delving into the psyche of the man.  Scott's full battery bravura performance is enriched by moments of humorous acknowledgement in his belief of his own former lives. Scott fires his pearl handled pistols with unerring accuracy. Carrying a three hour production on the shoulders of one character is an incredible achievement. Scene after scene,  Scott stands tall, an icon in a snaking jeep slithering through vehicle laden roads like a great halfback leading his team with a touchdown run. Scott plays Patton with great confidence and complexity. One of my favorite moments comes when he ruefully realizes he should have kissed that soldier he slapped. Karl Malden is a solid General Omar Bradley. Malden often gives complimentary performances that enhance the star power of another and his Bradley is the case. He marvels at Patton in character and the at the same time marvels at Scott’s performance without calling attention to his own. Smart casting in this film about a charismatic central force.  
     The music of Jerry Goldsmith is stunning and captures the scope of the film and the nature of its main character. There are echoes of the past in the Goldsmith horns, of battles fought and won and lost. It’s hard to imagine the film without Goldsmith’s great contribution.
     The two DVD set of Patton includes an extensive documentary on the making of Patton on disc two. The anamorphic transfer extracts the best image from the source material. Colors are accurate with good saturation. The distinctive color tones for the two main settings of Patton are captured effectively.  If you like to look into the eyes of an actor giving arguably his greatest performance, look beyond the surface into the soul of Scott giving life to Patton. The big pictures of the war are well replicated, capturing the sweep of Schaffner’s vision of the African, Italian and European World War II campaigns. If you have ever seen the widescreen laserdisc of Patton, it was a jumble of twittering edges, over-enhanced and unable to resolve detail without the amplitude push. There's still a touch of halo around the details, especially in the scenes of a small Patton against the larger landscapes. Perhaps this is not as sharp as the newer films released on DVD, but Patton conquers the pitfalls of the NTSC system just as he did the Germans. The sound is available is a Dolby Digital 5:1 mix. There is some localization, but mostly the surround information is enveloping. The canons and tanks pack enough impact to destroy whatever they are shooting at with conviction. There's good control of the visual peak transitions.










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