Reviewed bysmiley-39 ([email protected])Vote: 8/10/10
This is not a large scale multi-million dollar epic of World War Two.No thousands of extras, no wide panoramic sweep of battle scenes. Thissays more about The Battle of the Bulge than the movie of the samename. It's just an ordinary black and white M.G.M. production. What itlacks in size and scope it makes up for in impact.A simple story verywell told, of a squad of GI's of the 101st Airborne Division, throwninto the maelstrom that was the German offensive in the Ardennes inDecember of 1944 against the Allied ground forces.
It's hard to believe that this film was not shot on location; but on aMetro sound stage. And Metro's Culver City was turned into the onlyoutdoor location for the snow-covered, rubble-strewn town of Bastogneunder siege, which was tenaciously held by the 101st, under the commandof Brig. General Anthony McAuliffe.
With the exception of Van Johnson as Pvt. Holly who was high profile onthe Metro lot in his time, and George Murphy as Pvt. Stazak, the restof the cast were character-type actors who filled their rolesperfectly. James Whitmore as Sgt. Kinnie is drilling the squad in theopening scenes.
The squad members talk of an enjoyable furlough in Paris which issuddenly cut short by the German breakthrough in the Ardenne. Ptv.Stazak hopes of going home are dashed because his authorised documentshave not come through before the squad moves up front. Douglas Fowleyas Pvt. Kippton seems to be the best in the squad at bellyaching.Maybeit's his dentures that make him a sourpuss. But Fowley's dentures turninto a class act; clicking away to the old song, "I Surrender Dear,"through the courtesy of a German propaganda broadcast heard over theradio in a Sherman tank. Denise Darcel comes as a welcome relief offeminine pleasure; not out of place in the town of Bastogne itself. Inan indoor scene, Pvt. Holly's eyeballs go into left-to-right overdriveas he stares at Denise's buxom rear end descending a flight of stairs.Then there's Holly again, nursing stolen newly-laid eggs, as valuableas gold nuggets. He's about to scramble them over a fire when the squadis told to saddle up and move out. Not for the first time does Johnson(Pvt. Holly) yell, "oh no!" A expression he's used in past movies also.The broken eggs in his upturned helmet are now a problem. In the endit's disaster. The German artillery scramble the eggs for Holly.Problem solved!
On a three man patrol, Holly, Hodiak as Janness, Montalban asRodriguez, intercept and force a jeep carrying a Major and twosergeants to stop and identify themselves. The knowledge that Germansare infiltrating in GI uniforms has made the patrol suspicious so theMajor is asked how the Dodgers made out in 1944. The Majorhesitates,but the Sergeant in the rear seat asks Holly who Betty Grableis married to. Montalban shouts back, "Cesar Romero". The Major saysRomero is out. "Betty Grable is married to Harry James". The tenseatmosphere relaxes. The patrol is convinced they're friendly.
What is displayed authentically on this studio sound stage is the icy,bone-chilling atmosphere of the battlefield. The men hunkered down; thedeeper the better, in their foxholes. Throughout nearly all this moviethere is the constant rise and fall in the background of continuousartillery fire, like a rolling thunder. It never seems to cease.Sometimes it's close, sometimes distant. That, along with the freezingfog hanging like a thick whitish-grey blanket in the air, envelopingeverything, gives off an atmosphere of crisis; a feeling of fearfultension. The men endeavour to dispel the fear with humour. Waiting andwondering when the enemy will appear ghost-like out of themist-shrouded forest.
Near the end of the movie, Leon Ames gives a good performance as a ArmyChaplain. Trying to explain the reason for this necessary trip toEurope, to kill off a murderous political system that has alreadykilled off millions. Before the end, the tables turn in the Alliesfavour. Sergeant Kinnie notices his shadow against the snow. The sun isbreaking through and the mist rises. Allied tactical air power is backin business again with a vengeance.
Veteran director William Wellman was not found wanting when he directedthis movie. He had already proved himself with, "The Story of GI Joe",in 1945. Antiwar film? Any war film well made and convincing can beantiwar, and you do not need blood all over the silver screen to proveit. Antiwar or not, World War Two was a "popular" war. The reasonsstuck out a mile. The Army Chaplain said so in so many words.
The Ardennes offensive caught the Allies unawares, in short, toococksure. By late 1944, battered the German forces may have been. Butthey still had a few nasty shots in their locker to scare the livingdaylights out of the Allied Command. The allies paid the penalty inlost ground and casualties for General Eisenhower's insistence for abroad front advance. We thought the Germans had run out of fightingsteam, but old Field Marshal Karl Rudolf Gerd Von Rundstedt thoughtdifferent!
Reviewed byjotix100Vote: 7/10/10
"Battleground" is a curious film that came out of Hollywood in 1949.WWII had been over, so the public was not wishing for more war films atthe time. Yet, MGM went ahead with this project and gave it to WilliamWellman, a veteran director who knew his craft. The film was written byRobert Pirosh.
The movie is a curiosity also because it was shot in Culver City, yet,at times, it gives the impression of having been shot on location inthe Ardennes. The casting of some of the best acting talents MGM hadunder contract at the time contributes to give the film anotherdimension, as the viewer becomes involved with these men that aretrying to survive during the worst possible conditions.
In spite of some of the criticism in this forum, the film has a realfeeling because it stresses the dependency among the men that arecaught in the conflict. Their every day lives back home is at thecenter of the conversation one hears the men talk about. Wives,children, sweethearts, parents, and even popular figures of the popculture, like Bette Grable, are the basis of communication as the menidle away waiting to be called to fight the enemy.
Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, MarshallThompson, Don Taylor, Leon Ames, and a wonderful James Whitmore, areseen as the soldiers around Bastogne. Denise Darcel is seen as the kindFrench woman who befriends the soldiers.
Ultimately, "Battleground" is William Wellman's tribute to the men inuniform.
Reviewed bygarygorfVote: 10/10/10
"Battleground" is probably the best movie made about the Battle of theBulge. After seeing "Band of Brothers", I bought "Battleground" andwatched it for the fourth(?) time. I thought the characters were welldone. I saw this movie for the second time when I was in the US Army,and it turned me off. I couldn't believe guys were measuring theirchances of getting off the line by hoping for the million dollar wound,or some other malady. The third time I saw this movie, I had grown upand realized that, human nature being what it is, nothing about theirbehavior was abnormal. While I was growing up, Van Johnson was themodel GI in all of his movies, as he is in this. I liked the entirecast in this movie. I think one of the best scenes was the Christmasgathering with the Chaplin. His "Was this trip necessary?" speech wasone of the high points of the movie for me then and now. This movie,along with "Band of Brothers" are a must see.
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.