Saturday, 29 June 2013

Movie Review: Gone With The Wind (1939)

Hollywood's all-time grandest epic, Gone With The Wind is a key milestone marking the beginning of modern cinema. The adventures of a headstrong southern belle before, during, and after the Civil War are given a luxurious treatment that has withstood the test of time with remarkable ease.

With the winds of war looming, Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) is blossoming into womanhood on the Tara plantation in rural Georgia. Combining beauty with an intractable will to get what she wants, Scarlett uses her womanly charms to make every man weak in the knees. Yet she is rejected by the one man she truly loves, the reserved Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard). At a grand barbecue and banquet event, Scarlett meets Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), a successful maverick businessman and a lone voice in warning that the North will have an advantage in the upcoming war thanks to a stronger industrial base. Rhett sees in Scarlett the same qualities of rebellion and determination that he possesses, but she wants nothing to do with him. Ashley decides to marry the genuine and nearly angelic Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland).

Scarlett: All I know is that I love you! And you don't love Melanie!
Ashley: She's like me, Scarlett. She's part of my blood and we understand each other.
Scarlett: But you love me!
Ashley: How could I help loving you — you who have all the passion for life that I lack? But that kind of love isn't enough to make a successful marriage for two people who are as different as we are.

In an act of impetuous revenge, Scarlett marries Melanie's brother Charles, a man she barely knows. War erupts; Charles enlists but dies of pneumonia, leaving Scarlett a young widow. She visits Atlanta and reconnects with Rhett, now getting rich by smuggling war supplies. She is still not interested in him, her heart set on Ashley, who is serving in the Confederate Army. With Atlanta beginning to come under attack, Ashley asks Scarlett to look after the pregnant Melanie. She does so under horrific conditions, as Atlanta is sacked by the Union and burned to the ground. With Rhett's help Scarlett and Melanie find their way back to a destroyed Tara, where Scarlett will have to start from nothing to try and rebuild her life.

Based on Margaret Mitchell's 1936 best seller, Gone With The Wind clocks in at close to four hours, but never loses momentum. The second half may not carry the emotional punch of the exceptional opening two hours, but the story of Scarlett O'Hara and her ever tumultuous relationship with Rhett Butler builds remarkable power, and the destiny shaped by her decisions demands to be revealed.

Gone With The Wind was the vision of independent producer David O. Selznick. He purchased the rights to the book and assembled the cast, borrowing Clark Gable from MGM in a deal that gave MGM distribution rights. Selznick also launched a high-publicity search for an actress to play Scarlett, and eventually settled on the little known Englishwoman Vivien Leigh. Gable and Leigh would forever be associated with Rhett and Scarlett, and their performances give the film its primary thrust as two strong willed characters charting a passionate course in life, destined to deal with each other but rarely in full harmony. Every scene with both Rhett and Scarlett on the screen simply crackles with love-hate intensity, two souls too alike to find serenity, but also unable to navigate life without each other.

Scarlett: But you are a blockade runner.
Rhett: For profit, and profit only.
Scarlett: Are you tryin' to tell me you don't believe in the cause?
Rhett: I believe in Rhett Butler. He's the only cause I know. The rest doesn't mean much to me.

Leigh's performance is particularly affecting, especially in the first half of the film. She brings to Leigh a threatening sensuality combined with on-call coquettishness, Leigh's eyes alternating between batting flirtatiously at a line-up of suitors, and penetrating straight to their essence to measure their ability to serve her ambitions. She is also quite stunning in a morning-after scene, turning Rhett's domination into her own contented pleasure, casting doubt on who actually commanded the night.

Gable's screen persona of rebel with a personal cause allows Rhett to instantaneously dissect Scarlett's spirit while simultaneously falling in love with her. Gable's Rhett is gruff, resourceful and rich, a powerful combination and the only one capable of wrestling Scarlett into submission, should she ever allow it.

Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland provide capable support, but Ashley is too bland and Melanie too good to contribute anything other than background staidness compared to the Scarlett and Rhett show.

Selznick spared no cost in producing Gone With The Wind for almost $4 million, an astronomical amount for the era and possibly the most expensive film made up to that time. The film is packed with memorable visual moments, including Scarlett and her dad at Tara, the burning of Atlanta, the train station bursting with injured soldiers, the harrowing journey back to Tara, and Scarlett grasping her home soil and vowing to never be poor again. Max Steiner's mammoth orchestral score, highlighted by the gallant Tara's theme, adds to the timeless quality of the experience.

Scarlett: As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!

Director Victor Fleming (with help from uncredited co-directors George Cukor and Sam Wood) astutely hides any stage set constraints, and gives Gone With The Wind an expansive ambiance. He plays with lush colours, lighting, silhouettes, shades and shadows, not to mention gorgeous costumes to create a rich visual experience, opening the door for what the movies can achieve as a full sensory experience. The internal shots benefit from exalted mansions representing Tara, the adjacent Twelve Oaks, and other locales visited or owned by Rhett and Scarlett on their intertwined journeys.

The glory of the south may have been defeated, Gone With The Wind of a devastating war. But the story of Scarlett O'Hara lives on, thanks to an unequalled cinematic achievement.

Scarlett: Rhett! Rhett, where are you going?
Rhett: I'm going to Charleston, back where I belong.
Scarlett: Please, please take me with you!
Rhett: No, I'm through with everything here. I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn't something left in life of charm and grace. Do you know what I'm talking about?
Scarlett: No! I only know that I love you.
Rhett: That's your misfortune. 
Scarlett: Oh, Rhett! Rhett! Rhett, Rhett! Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?
Rhett: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Movie Review: 12 Angry Men (1957)

One of the most compelling legal dramas to have graced the screen, 12 Angry Men is a dazzling display of bravado acting and intellectual directing. Taking place almost entirely in a single room, the film is a feast of intelligent discourse and a mesmerizing study of interaction among strangers given the responsibility of life and death.

At the end of a murder trial in New York City, 12 jurors, all men, retire to reach a verdict. The defendant is an 18 year old scrawny youth from the wrong side of town, accused of stabbing his father to death. Most of the evidence seems to point to his guilt, and several witnesses testified to having seen or heard the boy commit the murder. A guilty verdict carries an automatic death sentence.

In the cramped and hot jury room, Juror 1, the foreman (Martin Balsam), tries to organize the jury, and most of the jurors appear eager to quickly confirm a guilty verdict and get on with their lives. But Juror 8 (Henry Fonda) is the sole hold out. He believes that the defence lawyer was poor, leaving many questions unanswered, and he demands that the jury members fulfil their duty by delving into the various aspects of the case in more detail to examine whether or not there is reasonable doubt.

The delay in reaching a unanimous verdict infuriates several of the men: Juror 7 (Jack Warden) is a sports fan and anxious to attend the evening's baseball game. Juror 3 (Lee J. Cobb) is a short-tempered loud-mouth, on bad terms with his son, and he quickly explodes when anyone disagrees with him. Juror 12 (Robert Webber) is an often distracted marketing executive more interested in talking business than focusing on the discussion at hand. And Juror 10 (Ed Begley) is another overbearing bigot. As the suffocating afternoon turns to a rain-drenched evening, the men talk, argue, and deliberate. Gradually, and painfully, some opinions begin to change.

Making his directorial debut, Sidney Lumet immediately makes an impression. 12 Angry Men has one set, and all of the film's dynamism is derived from Lumet's fluid work. His cameras stalk the jurors, rotate around them, take their point of view, or move up close and in their face, in an impressive display of drawing energy from the heat of conversation.

The crisp black and white photography, courtesy of Boris Kaufman, enhances a film that is all about distinguishing black from white, and exploring the grey areas in-between. Most of the men remove their jackets to reveal white shirts and black ties, standing out against the nondescript grey walls of the jury room.

As a study of diverse personalities, 12 Angry Men is a masterpiece. The men represent a mosaic of the white men who made up American society of the day, from professionals to ordinary Joes, from the middle-aged to the elderly, from bigots to immigrants, and from the relatively rich to the relatively poor. The film becomes an examination of the jury's motivation as much as it is a legal drama, the true colours of each juror sequentially emerging as the group delves into the difficult evidence of the case.

Written by Reginald Rose, who also co-produced with Fonda, 12 Angry Men is packed with leadership lessons, and not always obvious ones. Juror 8 demonstrates remarkable strength to calmly stick to his convictions in the face of eleven other men holding a contrary opinion, and then extraordinary stamina to embark on a quest to engage the other men in a detailed debate about the facts of the case.

But the jurors who change their opinions early to align with Juror 8 also lead by not being afraid to show that they may have initially been wrong and hasty in jumping to a guilty verdict. And in strong demonstrations of courage, several of the jurors jump to the defence of colleagues, regardless of differences of opinion, when the obnoxious Jurors 3 and 10 engage in bullying and insulting behaviour.

The performances from the stalwart cast are uniformly excellent, with Fonda and Cobb leading the way. Fonda gives Juror 8 self-belief combined with steely eyed determination. Fonda's screen persona as the man who knows right from wrong is perfectly suited to Juror 8, and here he takes on the challenge of sparring with eleven other well-meaning but possibly misguided men with patience, vigour and just that hint of an edge when needed.

Cobb plays the perfect nemesis, Juror 3 being everything that Juror 8 is not. Calm only on the surface, Cobb masters Juror 3's oscillation between rational and eruptive, revealing a man tortured by repressed inner demons, and the toughest holdout on the path to group reconciliation.

Of the others, Jack Warden makes a strong statement with a nonchalant attitude. For Juror 7 the world revolves around sports, and Warden is fascinatingly slippery as a man who struggles to pretend that he has principles, but who genuinely could not care less what the verdict is as long as it gets him to the ball park on time.

As the mood in the room evolves, the light, the heat and the weather also change. 12 Angry Men can be a transformational force, especially when channelled in the right direction.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Movie Review: Hair (1979)

The film adaptation of the Broadway musical show, Hair the movie rides along with the music. The better songs make for the better screen moments, while the many more mundane musical numbers result in significant stretches of tedium.

The Vietnam War is raging, and idealistic Claude Bukowski (John Savage) leaves the family farm in Oklahoma and heads to New York for a couple of days of sightseeing prior to joining the army. Claude falls in with a group of hippies led by the charismatic Berger (Treat Williams) and his friends Hud (muscular), Jeannie (pregnant) and Woof (very long-haired). The hippies introduce Claude to their anti-war counter-culture and before long he is experimenting with drugs and sleeping in the park.

Claude also falls in love at first sight with rich society girl Sheila (Beverly D'Angelo). Berger arranges for his group to gate-crash a posh party at the house of Sheila's parents, an intrusion that briefly lands Berger, Claude and all their hippie friends in jail. Claude eventually enlists, leaving his New York friends on a sour note as he relocates to Nevada to undergo basic army training. But Berger wants to do good with his new friend, which triggers a cross-country road trip and another reunion between Claude, the hippies and Sheila.

Director Milos Forman and screenwriter Michael Weller took considerable liberties with the story to try and create an experience applicable to the screen. Consisting of very few spoken words, Hair strings along the musical song and dance numbers and attempts to create a passable narrative. But with no time invested to create interesting characters, the film works only in parts. There is plenty of energetic jumping around in the park, but often the prevailing sense is of a group of well-intentioned amateurs getting together for a fun day of hijinks and being caught on film.

The better parts easily coincide with the can't-miss hit songs, Aquarius, Hair, Let The Sunshine In and Manchester providing the backdrop to the more stirring movie sequences. The other impressive highlight features Berger singing I Got Life while dancing and prancing on the all-dressed table at Sheila's stuffy party, the one time that the movie properly nails the essential culture clash at the heart of the musical.

The many other songs may have worked well on stage, but here they occupy chunks of time with not much going on in terms of forward-moving energy. The film stalls early and often as yet another musical number triggers yet another celebration of peace, love, lust, sex, and drugs, a message that is well and truly delivered inside the first 20 minutes.

The actors have little to work with in terms of character development. Claude the innocent, Berger the hippie and Sheila the débutante are exactly that, one-word summaries of stereotypes with no meaningful opportunity for evolution. Savage, Williams and D'Angelo are adequate within the limits imposed on them.

Hair does conjure up an excellent ending, an unintended sacrifice defining the meaning of true friendship. In a movie with as many good hair days as bad hair days, at least the ending is stylishly spiked.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Movie Review: Blow Out (1981)

A political conspiracy suspense thriller, Blow Out builds admirable momentum in a stylish package but takes an awkward wrong turn in its final 20 minutes.

Jack Terry (John Travolta) is a Philadelphia-based sound technician for low-budget slasher flicks. While out at night recording natural sounds for use in upcoming productions, Jack witnesses a car crashing off a bridge and plunging into the river. He dives in and just barely manages to rescue Sally (Nancy Allen) from the submerged car. The crash kills a high profile governor who was being touted as a presidential candidate, and Sally was the call girl entertaining him for the night.

Based on his microphone picking up the sound of a gunshot just before the tire blow out that causes the crash, Jack strongly suspects that the governor was actually the victim of an assassination. But he finds no officials interested in what he saw and recorded, and is advised to forget the whole incident, including Sally's existence. Low-life photographer Manny Karp (Dennis Franz) suddenly emerges with film of the crash and sells images to the tabloids, while a mysterious assassin named Burke (John Lithgow) goes rogue and initiates a killing spree that threatens both Jack and Sally.

As it heads into a murderous climax, Blow Out loses its way. The delicately constructed narrative of politics, assassination, cover-up and scandal is all but abandoned. In his rush to find derivative Hitchcockian moments and to drive Jack's life towards an imitation of the slasher movies he works on, director Brian De Palma unfortunately reconstitutes Blow Out as a routine serial killer terrorfest, sucking the air out of the drama.

The ending takes away some, but not all, of the lustre of the first 90 minutes. Here De Palma, working from his own script, combines style with mystery, dropping the Jack Terry character into a devious world he knows nothing about. Drawing savoury inspiration from the John Kennedy assassination and the Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick incident, the film is dark, all the characters surrounding Jack are seedy, everyone seems to have something to hide, and even seemingly innocent victims are not as uninvolved as they seem.

De Palma deploys his usual bag of dynamic tricks, including a dazzling rotating shot amplifying Jack's mounting frustration as he discovers that all of his tapes have been deleted.

In one of his better early dramatic outings, Travolta demonstrates a driving passion for Jack's profession: he may work on low-budget flicks, but he is also a sound technician who believes in what his ears and equipment are telling him. While faithful to what he knows is the truth, Travolta allows Jack to carry just enough of an independent swagger about the broader conspiracy. His world can live without all the politicians, police officers and their corrupt games; he learns to care only about Sally's fate.

Blow Out pumps up good pressure, but unfortunately picks up a late puncture and somewhat deflates.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Movie Review: 1941 (1979)

An attempted war comedy, 1941 is a debacle of almost unimaginable proportions. Steven Spielberg momentarily loses his touch and presides over an obnoxious bomb.

It's December 1941, one week after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In Los Angeles, civilians and the military are both on the edge of disorganized hysteria, anticipating an attack on the west coast. Indeed, a Japanese submarine is prowling the waters off California, and sub commander Akiro Mitamura (Toshiro Mifune) wants to make a name for himself by bombing Hollywood.

The US military men stationed in the area include Major General Stilwell (Robert Stack), more interested in watching Dumbo than leading his men; the slightly crazed Captain "Wild" Bill Kelso (John Belushi), randomly flying his fighter plane over California seeking phantom enemies; tank commander Sergeant Frank Tree (Dan Aykroyd), who knows how to inspire with words but not with actions; Captain Loomis Birkhead (Tim Matheson) who desperately wants to get Stilwell's assistant Donna (Nancy Allen) into an airplane to get her motor running; and the hot head Corporal Chuck Sitarski (Treat Williams), who is desperately vying with dance-loving waiter Wally Stephens (Bobby Di Cicco) for the attention of hostess Betty Douglas (Dianne Kay).

Spielberg's first and perhaps most serious major flop, 1941 is a thunderous failure, a remarkable calamity considering the talent on both sides of the camera and a budget of $32 million. There really is no plot to speak of. The screenplay by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale fails miserably to create any characters or events worth even remotely caring about. With astounding speed the film degenerates into an excuse for excess in search of broad slapstick-style jokes, with most of the attempted humour falling embarrassingly flat. The whole exercise takes on the unmistakable air of an unmitigated disaster.

The opening scene, a funny take on Spielberg's Jaws, deserves recognition as the only idea to hit the target in the entire two hour running length. Otherwise, long minutes that feel like hours pass by with no meaningful laughs, as an enormous amount of destruction is thrown at the screen to no effect. With a cast that also includes John Candy, Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, Ned Beatty, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee and Lionel Stander, 1941 achieves quantity over quality in all respects. Characters scream, over-act, fight, punch, riot, brawl, shoot, and frantically wave their arms in the air, all to no avail. The events on the screen bear no resemblance to rational film making, and a weird disconnect settles over the film. Someone actually thought that all this would be funny. Instead, it's just humiliating for all involved.

1941 features an orgy of wanton destruction, Spielberg mistaking a child's tendency to spectacularly annihilate stuff with good farce. Never has so much on-screen hardware been so spectacularly destroyed to so little effect.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Monday, 24 June 2013

CD Review: Assault Attack, by The Michael Schenker Group (1982)

The third studio album from The Michael Schenker Group came to life amidst more personnel turmoil, most notably Graham Bonnet joining on vocals for what proved to be a short association with the band, while Cozy Powell (drums), Paul Raymond (keyboards) and Gary Barden (vocals) departed.

Regardless, Assault Attack sticks closely to the formula introduced earlier on The Michael Schenker Group (1980) and MSG (1981) namely second-tier metal produced for the primary purpose of showcasing patchy guitar wizardry.

Bonnet's range is impressive, but he often escapes to his high registry and stays there, with catastrophic results. The worst of the damage is in evidence on Dancer, perhaps one of the most eye-gougingly annoying tracks to ever finds its way onto a metal album. That Dancer was somehow released as a single just adds to the agony. The 2009 CD re-issue includes as a bonus track Girl From Uptown, initially released as Dancer's B-side, and a track that should have been left buried deep in the great vault of rather miserable B-sides.

On the plus side, Assault Attack opens with the burly and addictive title track, an example of the best that the band has to offer, the strong composition bringing in the drums, bass, and especially keyboards to augment Schenker's guitar and Bonnet's vocals. Rock You To The Ground is more lyrical, with a grinding riff and melancholy solo section highlighting Schenker's more poetic abilities. Searching For A Reason exists to serve its simple but ridiculously cute riff, the band demonstrating both brilliance-in-bursts and an inability to do much with a nucleus of a great idea.

Assault Attack is almost half of a somewhat decent album, best characterized as an assault that did not quite manage to attack or an attack that failed to fully assault.


Graham Bonnet - Vocals
Chris Glen - Bass
Michael Schenker - Guitar
Ted McKenna - Drums

Keyboards - Tommy Eyre

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Assault Attack - 10
2. Rock You To The Ground - 8
3. Dancer - 4
4. Samurai - 7
5. Desert Song - 7
6. Broken Promises - 6
7. Searching For A Reason - 9
8. Ulcer - 7
9. (Bonus Track) Girl From Uptown - 5

Average: 7.00

Produced and Engineered by Martin Birch.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

Friday, 21 June 2013

CD Review: Apocalyptic, by Evocation (2010)

Sweden's Evocation started life in 1991, disbanded in 1993 before releasing any studio albums, reformed around 10 years later and rebooted their career. Apocalyptic is their third full-length album after the reformation, and its a respectable death metal outing with a healthy dose of melody and hints of black.

While Apocalyptic never lacks in spirited energy, it also rarely claims any unique ground. The outcome is thoughtful death metal, not exactly driven by melodies by quite respectful of them, without ever quite nailing an identity target at dead-centre. And there is an undoubted repetitiveness to the album, particularly in the droning tone that seems to run through from track to track. A somewhat muddy, self-made mix does not help.

Thomas Josefsson's growl scratches a metal blade on rough gravel, while the guitars of Vesa Kenttakumpu and Marko Palmen demonstrate the power of a thick wall but with noticeably limited flair. Martin Toresson's bass is prominent in laying down sludgy tar that demands a pounding from the drum set of Janne Boden.

Evocation's most promising sound comes when the structures break a bit loose and venture into more adventurous territory. Psychosis Warfare is the best track on the album, creeping around a ghostly house with enough nimbleness of sound to avoid the horrors lurking around every corner. Opener Sweet Obsession brings some inspiration to whet the appetite, and both Curse On The Creature and title track Apocalyptic add some well-defined edges to break free of the predictability that permeates death metal when mixed with some blackness. Apocalyptic pokes around at familiar boggy territory, maintains earnest effort, but finds ground breaking discoveries elusive.


Thomas Josefsson - Vocals
Vesa Kenttakumpu - Guitars
Marko Palmen - Guitars
Martin Toresson - Bass
Janne K. Boden - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Sweet Obsession - 8
2. We Are Unified Insane - 7
3. Infamy - 7
4. Parasites - 7
5. Reunion In War - 7
6. Psychosis Warfare - 8
7. Murder In Passion - 7
8. It Is All Your Fault - 7
9. Curse On The Creature - 8
10. Apocalyptic - 8

Average: 7.40

Produced, Recorded, Mixed and Engineered by Vesa Kenttakumpu and Evocation.
Mastered by Christian Silver.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Movies Of Karl Malden

All movies starring Karl Malden and reviewed on the Ace Black Blog are linked below:

Where The Sidewalk Ends (1950)

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

On The Waterfront (1954)

Baby Doll (1956)

Birdman Of Alcatraz (1962)

How The West Was Won (1962)

Gypsy (1962)

Patton (1970)

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.
The Index of Movie Stars is here.

Movie Review: Patton (1970)

A larger than life biopic for a larger than life war hero, Patton combines man and war to provide grand entertainment. George C. Scott's inspired performance embodies both Patton's self-serving bombast and his career-limiting failings.

It’s 1943, and the initial American foray into the North African theatre of World War Two is not going well: Rommel’s tanks inflict a heavy defeat on the Allies at Kasserine Pass. In response, General George S. Patton (Scott) is placed in charge of the American II Corps. Confident, aggressive and a loud mouth, Patton appoints General Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) as his second in command and adopts an all-attack, all-the-time mentality while instilling discipline and improving morale. Before long, Patton masterminds an impressive victory over Rommel at the Battle of El Guettar.

Patton believes in reincarnation and destiny. He is convinced that he has lived many previous lives and participated in several key battles throughout history. It is now his destiny to play a leading role in the Allied victory over the Germans. After success in North Africa, his next objective is the invasion of Sicily, and Patton places great emphasis on personal glory. To the disgust of the more rational and cautious Bradley, Patton turns the invasion into a personal race with British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (Michael Bates) to reach the key port city of Messina. But Patton finally allows his passion to get the better of him: he accuses one of his soldiers of cowardice, and strikes him. The incident stalls Patton’s quest for glory, and he is forced to wait in the wings while Bradley is promoted into a key role as the Normandy invasion looms.

A war movie filled with the thunder of conflict and the agony and ecstasy of the humans who wage war, Patton is an enduring cinematic achievement. Through the eyes of General Patton, humanity's deranged but passionate love of carnage is expressed. Patton was born to lead men into war: ironically, the battlefield of death is the one place he feels most alive. The movie makes no apologies and no excuses. Men like Patton turned back evil and won the war, and this is his story.

Scott’s portrayal of Patton is perhaps one of the greatest acting performances in Hollywood’s history. Dominating the screen with personality, Scott fills the giant boots of a General who takes no prisoners, and accepts no nonsense from allies, superiors, or colleagues. Driven by a palpable sense of historic purpose, able to feel destiny’s touch on his broad shoulders, Scott brings Patton to life as a man bulldozing his way to the certainty of victory.

But Scott also finds the self-aware tragic hero deep within Patton: an inability to control his mouth or his temper, a propensity to place personal objectives ahead of the war’s strategic needs, and an almost obsessive focus on immediate tactics as opposed to the big picture. Patton is aware of his weaknesses, but where others see a dangerous loose cannon, he remains certain that despite his failings, the final outcome will be in his favour.

The contrast between the flamboyant Patton and more restrained Bradley, portrayed with resolve by Karl Malden, is a study in divergent leadership styles. Both are effective at what they do, but Bradley is more cerebral and careful, while Patton is driven by emotion and ego. Bradley creates fewer waves, demonstrates more empathy, and is more cognizant of the greater needs of the Allies. Patton measures success according to immediate battlefield results, and has no time for the desktop generals and their political masters. In an organization as large and complex as the US Army, it is no surprise that the "company man" Bradley climbs the career ladder ahead, and over, the more radical Patton.

Written by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North, everything about Patton is large to match the enormity of the man. The running length is close to three hours, the opening scene speech in front of a gigantic flag is audacious, the assembled armies of men, tanks and trucks are huge, the battle scenes are impressively grand, and the personality battles between Patton, Bradley, Montgomery are no less absorbing. With director Franklin J. Schaffner finding engaging settings and interesting camera angles for almost every shot, and Jerry Goldsmith providing a rousing yet poignant soundtrack with echoes across the sweep of history, Patton is an artistic epic of legendary men eternally defined by a monumental conflict.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

The Movies Of Charlton Heston

All Charlton Heston movies reviewed on the Ace Black Blog are linked below:

The Ten Commandments (1956)

Touch Of Evil (1958)

The Buccaneer (1958)

Ben Hur (1959)

55 Days At Peking (1963)

Major Dundee (1965)

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

Khartoum (1966)

Planet Of The Apes (1968)

Soylent Green (1973)

Airport 1975 (1974)

Earthquake (1974)

Tombstone (1993)

True Lies (1994)

Any Given Sunday (1999)

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.
The Index of Movie Stars is here.

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