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>
The American small units, companies and platoons, depicted did not exist. The glider infantry regiment assigned to the 101st Airborne Division was the 327th. When these glider infantry regiments were constituted in the early part of World War II, they had only two battalions. There was no third battalion in the regiment at the time of the battle of Bastogne. Instead, the first battalion of the 401st Glider Infantry Regiment was detailed to the command of the 327th. This meant that the glider infantry component of the 101st Airborne Division at this time had no "Item", "King", "Love", or "Mike" companies, the companies mentioned in this movie. This was done cleverly to avoid having any veterans of the 101st come forward to say something like: "I was in Item Company at Bastogne, and no such thing ever happened to us." See more »
At the beginning of the movie Holley (Van Johnson) enters the tent wearing a class A uniform. Although currently worn above the ribbon rack, at the time the film takes place, the Combat Infantryman Badge was worn on the left breast pocket, below the ribbons. See more »
The major thinks General McAuliffle must have misunderstood. We have appealed to the well-known American humanity to save the people of Bastogne from further suffering. We have given you two hours to consider before raining destruction upon you. We do not understand General McAuliffe's answer.
I'd be glad to repeat it. The answer is "nuts".
[discusses with German major]
Is that a negative or an affirmative reply?
Nuts is strictly negative.
[discusses in German with German major]
We will kill many...
[...] See more »
Also available in a computer colorized version. 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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