Making Patton: A Classic War Film's Epic Journey to the Silver Screen

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Overview

Forever known for its blazing cinematic image of General George S. Patton (portrayed by George C. Scott) addressing his troops in front of a mammoth American flag, Patton won seven Oscars in 1971, including those for Best Picture and Best Actor. In doing so, it beat out a much-ballyhooed M*A*S*H, irreverent darling of the critics, and grossed $60 million despite an intense anti-war climate. But, as Nicholas Evan Sarantakes reveals, it was a film that almost didn't get made.

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Overview

Forever known for its blazing cinematic image of General George S. Patton (portrayed by George C. Scott) addressing his troops in front of a mammoth American flag, Patton won seven Oscars in 1971, including those for Best Picture and Best Actor. In doing so, it beat out a much-ballyhooed M*A*S*H, irreverent darling of the critics, and grossed $60 million despite an intense anti-war climate. But, as Nicholas Evan Sarantakes reveals, it was a film that almost didn't get made.

Sarantakes offers an engaging and richly detailed production history of what became a critically acclaimed box office hit. He takes readers behind the scenes, even long before any scenes were ever conceived, to recount the trials and tribulations that attended the epic efforts of producer Frank McCarthy—like Patton a U.S. Army general—and Twentieth Century Fox to finally bring Patton to the screen after eighteen years of planning.

Sarantakes recounts how filmmakers had to overcome the reluctance of Patton's family, copyright issues with biographers, competing efforts for a biopic, and Department of Defense red tape. He chronicles the long search for a leading man—including discussions with Burt Lancaster, John Wayne, and even Ronald Reagan—before settling on Scott, a brilliant actor who brought to the part both enthusiasm for the project and identification with Patton's passionate persona. He also tracks the struggles to shoot the movie with a large multinational cast, huge outlays for military equipment, and filming in six countries over a mere six months. And he provides revealing insider stories concerning, for example, Scott's legendary drinking bouts and the origins of and debate over his famous opening monologue.

Drawing on extensive research in the papers of Frank McCarthy and director Franklin Schaffner, studio archives, records of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, contemporary journalism, and oral histories, Sarantakes ultimately shows us that Patton is more than just one of the best war films ever made. Culturally, it also spoke to national ideals while exposing complex truths about power in the mid-twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Sarantakes (strategy, U.S. Naval War Coll.; Dropping the Torch: Jimmy Carter, the Olympic Boycott, and the Cold War) has written a detailed account of the nearly 20-year road to making Patton. Highly controversial during the last few years of his life, Gen. George S. Patton experienced epic triumphs and setbacks during World War II and his seemed a natural story for the screen. Studios vied for the rights to a best-selling biography and leading men such as John Wayne and Burt Lancaster were considered for the part. Directors including William Wyler and John Huston were also up for the movie before relative newcomer Franklin Schaffner was selected. After almost two decades of preparation, the much-lauded Patton came to the screen in 1970 with a script by Francis Ford Coppola and the perfectly cast but volatile George C. Scott in the title role. VERDICT This book provides a relatively unusual look at the long gestation of a major motion picture. Because of the copious minutiae and sometimes repetitious detail, this is probably best suited for dedicated film buffs, film students, and especially motivated general readers.—Roy Liebman, Los Angeles P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700618620
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 8/20/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 966,864
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Evan Sarantakes is an associate professor of strategy at the U.S. Naval War College and author of Allies against the Rising Sun: The United States, the British Nations, and the Defeat of Imperial Japan; Seven Stars: The Okinawa Battle Diaries of Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., and Joseph Stilwell; and Keystone: The American Occupation of Okinawa and U.S.-Japanese Relations.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

List of Acronyms xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 The General 8

Chapter 2 The Producer 27

Chapter 3 The Screenwriter 44

Chapter 4 The Director 60

Chapter 5 The Actor 73

Chapter 6 The Field Marshal 86

Chapter 7 The Pattern Company 109

Chapter 8 The Audience 129

Chapter 9 The Legacy 157

Chapter 10 The Impact 176

Conclusion 186

Epilogue 190

A Note on Sources 201

Notes 205

Bibliography 235

Index 249

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 27, 2012

    A really good read, insightful in the difficulties of bring a co

    A really good read, insightful in the difficulties of bring a controversial figure to the screen during the anti war movement.  

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