“Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Director Franklin Schaffner won the Best Director Oscar on his only nomination for this Best Picture Oscar winner which brought home four more Oscars including Adapted Screenplay Writing (shared by Francis Ford Coppola). George C. Scott was the first Best Actor to refuse his award for his autobiographical portrayal of the famous General AFI’s #29 hero. Added to the National Film Registry in 2003. #89 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies list.
The film opens with the famous scene of the titled General (Scott) standing before a building sized American flag and giving a speech. It then takes “us” back through the officer’s World War II career: his early successes in Africa where he defeats the famous German tank commander (“Rommel you magnificent bastard. I read your book”) his supposed rivalry with a British Field Marshall (“Monty”) as they race for glory retaking Europe back from the Nazis and even jealousy for fellow American General Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) on who’s book “A Soldier’s Story” the film is based. It tells of the mutual “love” between the tough officer and his men as well as the incident which caused him to become a political pawn of the press. Perhaps the only missed beat in the entire film is its weak ending.