Battle of the BulgeGoofs
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Kiley, while flying in an airplane, takes a picture of Hessler traveling in a staff car. The picture should have shown him looking towards the camera. Instead, they obviously used a still from the film.
The reason the Americans cannot receive air support is because of poor weather. When the artillery is brought in on a train, the sky is perfectly clear.
In the opening scene all external shots of the recon plane show clear skies. Yet shots from the cockpit and from the colonel's car show it is mostly cloudy.
Common in military movies and TV, nearly every salute is done incorrectly. The enlisted man or lesser-grade officer is supposed to hold his salute until returned. Everyone learns that in basic training. Yet here the salute is a quick up/down nearly every time.
The opening narration states that "Montgomery's 8th Army was in the north . . . ". British Gen. Bernard L. Montgomery did command the British forces in NW Europe, but the 8th Army, formerly commanded by him, was in Italy.
Henry Fonda utters one of the most commonly mis-used pieces of movie dialogue when, after talking with HQ over the telephone, he says "Over and out!" Correctly spoken, it's one or the other, "Over!" OR "Out!", but never BOTH, back to back. "OVER!" is correctly used to signify a response is expected, "OUT!" is correctly used to signify the conversation is ended.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs
At the end of the film German Col. Hessler wants to capture the American fuel dump intact. The attempts by the Germans to do so are an established historical fact about the real battle. German tanks ran on gasoline like American tanks. The myth that German tanks ran on diesel is probably the result of Karl Malden, playing General Omar Bradley erroneously saying so in Patton (1970).
When looking over the captured German soldiers, Lt. Col. Kiley and Col. Pritchard examine what appears to be a more modern rifle, looking like an AK47. It is actually an MP44/StG44, which served in limited numbers in the last two years of the war.
Guffy's tank takes a direct hit in the final tank battle, blowing away most of the turret. Not only is Guffy unhurt or even affected by the hit, the radio still works.
When Lt. Col. Kiley attempts to shoot Col. Hessler at the Our River bridge, the German infantrymen who dismount in response shout various lines like "Es kam von da oben" ("It came from up there") and "Da sind sie" ("There they are"). The foleys of these lines are also used (repeatedly) in subsequent scenes (such as the capture of Lt. Weaver and Sgt. Duquesne), even though they are entirely inappropriate to the events being depicted; they are simply being used as "generic German dialogue."
The radio transmitter used by Col. Hessler in the German command vehicle is an American Hallicrafters SX-28, which is a receiver incapable of transmitting.
During the train sequence, when the train is delivering big guns, the film cuts between views of the train on the track and views from the footplate. The two views are clearly of different tracks. The track shown from the footplate has clearly visible overhead electrification pylons. The views of the track showing the train do not have electrification pylons.
The Jeeps used are the M39, not the WWII Willy's MB or Ford GPW. Both had a split windshield, but the M39 did not.
As the film opens Henry Fonda's plane is chasing the German command vehicle on the ground. As the vehicle speeds along the tires squeal as the vehicle makes each turn, however the vehicle is on a dirt road and rubber tires don't squeal on dirt.
When the team of American engineers arrives at the Our River bridge to destroy it, the lead engineer says to Lt. Schumacher (Ty Hardin), "I'm sure loaded with C-4, can you use any?" However, C-4 was not developed until 1956. Composition C, C-2 and C-3 were the types of plastic explosives used by the U.S. army during WW2.
When Duffy is first introduced, putting "merchandise" back on his tank, he asks one of his men to get him some cigarettes. The man goes to the rear of the tank and opens a box containing cartons with various brands. The carton removed for Duffy is Lucky Strikes in their prewar green livery. In 1942 Lucky Strike changed its packaging colors from green and red to white and red. Its ad campaign stated that "Lucky Strike Green had gone to war." This was done because the green ink was made using copper, and copper was needed for the war effort.
Early in the movie, Henry Fonda's character visits the "up front" front. In one scene there is a soldier in a bunk reading a folded magazine, and the viewing audience can see the page he is not reading. The magazine is the April 1964 issue of Playboy and the page he has opened is the beginning of a pictorial on Playmate Donna Michelle. In the same shot a photograph of Rita Hayworth as "Gilda" can be seen on the wall. Gilda (1946) was not released until 1946. The action in this film takes place in 1944.
When the mostly-teenage German tank commanders are performing "Das Panzerlied," you can see that they are lip-syncing; the singing voices are clearly not their own.
Crew or equipment visible
In several exterior shots, you can clearly see the movie lights reflected in the soldiers' helmets.
When the last vehicles get over the bridge (moments before the cover of the German soldiers gets blown), the shadow of a camera can be seen on the side of the last truck as it passes by.
Errors in geography
The Battle of the Bulge was fought in the densely-wooded Ardennes Forest of Belgium, not in a semi-arid environment.
When the train (carrying the guns) is nearing the first bridge, you can see several men (perhaps railway workers) standing along the side. They are wearing shirts and cowboy-like hats which indicates that it's very hot. The Battle of the bulge took place during the very cold winter of 1944.
When the sergeant and the lieutenant get pointed in the wrong direction, you can see the road-sign pointing to Ambleve (left) and to Malmedy (right). Since the sign is supposed to be twisted, this means that they came from the east. Being east at 42 km from Malmedy, and 36 km from Ambleve, they would have been several (10-15) kilometers inside Germany.
When Col. Martin Hessler musters his new panzer troops, they are said to be raw recruits, and he is reluctant to go to battle with them (until they convince him of their worthiness by singing the "Panzerlied"). However, many of the soldiers sport military awards such as the tank battle award or the close combat award, and some - including the first two he meets - wear Iron Crosses, the highest German award for bravery in battle. In other words, at least half of them are hardened battle veterans and would easily be recognized as such by an experienced officer such as Col. Hessler.
Early in the film we are shown a column of American vehicles retreating in disarray. In the forefront is a stalled jeep being rocked by several men. Much later, Gen. Grey observes a column of retreating American vehicles and says that "this time they're retreating like soldiers." However, this is the same clip shown earlier except that it has been flipped left to right (the jeep being rocked is now on the other side of the frame.) Since the film clip is the same, Grey really has no basis for his statement.
Just prior to Col Hessler's meeting with Maj Wolenski (Charles Bronson) he tells Konrad "Tanks run on petrol." "Petrol" is British term (and indeed much of the English speaking world uses it to refer to gasoline). A German would call it "benzine." As all the German's dialog in this film is in American style English with a German accent, real or affected, why wouldn't he just call it gasoline? It was Robert Shaw (Hessler) tipping the fact that he's a British actor.