Patton: Special Edition Franklin J. Schaffner

Much has been made of this film’s wishy-washy flip-flopping on the matter of its subject, the loud-mouthed hawk General George S. Patton. But this is, after all, a Hollywood pageant full of technology and epic scope, meaning that the one side gets largely drowned out by the other. Remember, this was the movie Nixon screened before bombing Cambodia, and why not, when it establishes early and often the entertaining intransigence of WWII’s biggest bully? George C. Scott nails the part of the charismatic general, about the only lively thing in Franklin J. Schaffner’s sombre and mucky brown production; he makes the General the one non-enervated element in the whole thing, and thus you like Ol’ Blood and Guts even if you’re a tree-hugging peacenik. Further, everybody around him is a flunky from central casting whose role is to cringe or frown at the big man’s grouchy words; there’s no personal resistance besides Karl Malden’s Gen. Omar Bradley, who’s crushed to the side of the frame even as he supersedes Patton’s power. I’d like to say that the film is a pernicious martial band playing seductive marches, but it’s simply too dull to do the job — the sanitised battlefield action and massively empty long shots couldn’t get you arrested these days. Aside from serving as an interesting transition point from Old Hollywood pomp and American Renaissance funk, it’s largely uninteresting. A two-disc special edition, disc one features an introduction from co-writer Francis Ford Coppola and a very in-depth commentary with same, while disc two offers lengthy and fascinating documentaries comparing the film to history, reliving a controversial offensive and remembering the production, a still gallery set to Jerry Goldsmith’s score, a behind-the-scenes gallery with an audio essay on Patton, and the trailer. (Fox)