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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recently viewed: "Battleground"


I'm not that familiar with a lot of the movies that Hollywood made about WWII, and I had never heard of this one until recently, when I happened to find a cheap copy.  Made in 1949, it was the first major film about the war that was released after it was over (and the studio was apparently worried that the audience would be tired of war stories).  Set during the Battle of the Bulge, it is focused on Seige of Bastogne, as the Germans were trying to get control of the crossroads at Bastogne as a crucial part of their drive to get access to the harbor at Antwerp.

The movie follows the 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon of Item Company (a ficitonal company) of 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.  To me, it's notably in that the members of the squad appears very human; they are clearly scared at times, and frustrated with the lack of supplies and support that they have.  As to the siege, the movie is apparently fairly accurate.  There's also a wealth of good performances here, starting with Van Johson as Holley and James Whitmore as Kinnie, the sergeant who continues doing his duty as he deals with frostbitten feet.  Notable faces include Ricardo Montalban (Kahn himself!), James Arness and Richard Jaeckel

The result is a great movie, about an important piece of history.  It was a huge hit for MGM, and well regarded (a handful of Oscar nominations, with wins for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (Paul C. Vogel) and for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay (Robert Pirosh). 

Highly recommended.

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