Battle of the Bulge (1965)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, History, War

Battle of the Bulge (1965) Poster

A dramatization of Nazi Germany's final Western Front counterattack of World War II.

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  • Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson in Battle of the Bulge (1965)
  • Robert Shaw and Barbara Werle in Battle of the Bulge (1965)
  • George Montgomery in Battle of the Bulge (1965)
  • James MacArthur and George Montgomery in Battle of the Bulge (1965)
  • James MacArthur in Battle of the Bulge (1965)
  • Telly Savalas and James MacArthur in Battle of the Bulge (1965)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

14 August 2006 | raysond
The Battle Of The Bulge
"THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE"-was without a doubt an archetypal studio war movie,since this one is really quite faithful to the broad outlines and details of a real campaign,and then fills out the running time with ridiciously unrealistic Hollywood heroics. The combination is somehow much more entertaining that it ought to be. Veteran director Ken Annakin knows how to keep this sort of sprawling material in line,and even if the two leads are doing a bit of slumming,they're as good as they used to be.

As the synopsis of the story goes it is December,1944 and American troops and officers advancing toward Germany think that the war is over. They're on cruise control waiting for orders to return home. But Colonel Kiley(Henry Fonda)who's a cop in civilian life,has a hunch that the enemy is up to something. On a reconaissance flight,he spots Colonel Hessler(Robert Shaw)in the back of a big black convertible. Kiley also spots some Tiger tanks and thinks that he has discovered the first evidence of the counteroffensive. His superiors,General Gray (Robert Ryan),and Colonel Pritchard(Dana Andrews) are skeptical. Meanwhile,right at the point of the German attack,Major Wolenski's(Charles Bronson)men are hunkered in a bunker and trying to stay warm. Sargent Duquesne(George Montgomery)keeps wet-behind-the-ears Lt. Weaver (James MacArthur)from getting himself killed,and Guffy(Telly Savalas)uses his Sherman tank to distribute black market wine,eggs,and nylons. The script by John Melson and producers Phillip Yordan and Milton Sperling neatly juggles those plot elements,bringing them all together only at a wonderfully preposterous conclusion.

The various battle scenes vary widely in quality. Some of the destruction seems shockingly real while the occasional shots of model tanks and trains are so jarring that they're unintentionally funny. Director Kenneth Annakin realizes how those deep,ratting,clanking sound effects are to cinematic tanks,and he uses every note in his repertoire. He understands the importance of setting,and gives the film an appropriately bleak,muddy,snow-covered feel. Since the film was released in Christmas of 1965,and was originally made for the ultra-widescreen process Cinerama(the first film presented in this format for Warner Bors. Pictures and was filmed in Ultra Panavision), much of the scope of the big scenes is lost in the conventional pan-and-scan transfer(it has been restored for its release on DVD). The best way to see this is in theatres that had the Cinerama process. The tank battles in particular have almost nothing to do with the realiities of war,but the filmmakers don't take as many liberties as they might have.

The Germans did time the attack to take advantage of poor weather-"night,fog and snow,"as Hitler put it-to keep Allied airplanes on the ground. They hoped that stopping the Allies would give them take to take more advantage of their secret-weapons programs and V-2 attacks. The attack was led by a young tank general,and his supplies of fuel were so critically low that his forces were expected to forage for it. The filmmakers made use of all these points,especially with the battle sequences and stunning photography throughout. When it was released in 1965,the film's original running time of 167 minutes long. The most widely available tape version of the film is at 141 minutes and was re-released back in theatres with given running times of 156,and 163 minutes long. When it was restored,the producers resurrected the original negatives to its standard running time of 167 minutes,which is now out on DVD.

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Did You Know?


The film's dedication credits statement states: "This picture is dedicated to the one million men who fought in this great battle of World War II".


Col. Martin Hessler: They have the fuel and planes to fly Cake over the Atlantic Ocean.
Col. Martin Hessler: Do you know what this means?


When the Germans are exiting the transport plane, the close up shots of the plane shows it is a Junkers Ju-52. In the wide shots it shows a Douglas C-47.

Alternate Versions

The film was originally screened at about 170 minutes. When it was initially released on North American home video in the 1980s, it was trimmed to a mere 141 minutes. Most of the cuts involved was seen as "unnecessary" battle footage, such as when Guffy's tanks arrive in the first major battle scene to back up Major Wolenski's battalion and, later, portions of the German day attack on Ambleve are missing, among other scenes. The 1990 video and subsequent home video and laserdisc releases run 156 minutes (in order to market the film on a T-160 videotape) and restore the original Overture, Intermission and Exit Music. Four key scenes are still missing:

  • 1. Colonel Hessler and General Kohler meet Schumacher's paratroop contingent just after they leave Kohler's office.
  • 2. After Kohler shows Hessler the colossal war room, Hessler goes outside and inspects his tanks.
  • 3. After Pritchard tells Kiley he is being transferred to the United States, Kiley and Maj. Wolenski discuss what should be done with Germany after the war.
  • 4. The most famous missing scene occurs right after the nuns ask Hessler for aid in Ambleve. It has a young French boy attempt to assassinate Hessler. Hessler allows the boy to live, but has his father shot instead. Immediately after this scene, Major Wolenski has a meeting with Hessler in which he confronts him about the Malmedy Massacre.


Der Panzerlied
Written by Kurt Wiehle


Plot Summary


Drama | History | War

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