7.4/10
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80 user 24 critic

Battleground (1949)

Approved | | Action, Drama, History | 20 January 1950 (USA)
True tale about a squad of the 101st Airborne Division coping with being trapped by the Germans 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)
Reviews
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)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

German Lieutenant: 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.
American Colonel: I'd be glad to repeat it. The answer is "nuts".
German Lieutenant: [discusses with German major] Is that a negative or an affirmative reply?
American Colonel: Nuts is strictly negative.
German Lieutenant: [discusses in German with German major] We will kill many...
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Ed Sullivan Show: MGM's 30th Anniversary Tribute (1954) 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 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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