10 April 2018 | rooprect
Joins Exorcist III in the list of great sequels starring George C Scott that people hated because they were expecting something different
Like Exorcist III, a great movie that was largely shunned by original Exorcist fans because it wasn't spooky enough, "The Last Days of Patton" is another piece of powerful cinema which was shunned by many Patton fans because it didn't have enough action. The point in both of these sequels was not to continue/rehash the heart-pounding spectacle of the first, but rather to present a quiet, heavy, introspective, script driven drama. Who else but the great George C Scott can pull this off?
"The Last Days of Patton" begins on June 7, 1945 when a victorious Patton returned to Bedford, MA to throngs of fans & reporters, and it takes us through the last 6 months of Patton's life which ended in December that same year. There's no combat, no gunfire, no "war" other than a frustrated General Patton attempting to take charge and rebuild a war-ravaged Bavaria, much to the opposition of Eisenhower's political interests. This is a quiet drama that focuses on the private hell of a soldier without a war.
George C Scott and an excellent script full of literary quotations make this an intellectual film, and I'd be lying if I said I recognized all the references. I found myself pausing the movie so I could google things like who said "Up he rose, and forth they went / Away from battleground, fortress, tent / Mountain, wilderness, field and farm / Death and the General, arm-in-arm" (save you the trouble: it's Arthur Guiterman). The character also quotes Kipling, Foutenelle, Napoleon and others, with each quote holding deep significance and insight into the mind of the general.
One of the most memorable lines, spoken as only Scott could with a mix of bitter irony and light hearted humor: "I do not suffer, my friends; but I feel a certain difficulty in existence."
Supporting actors and actresses were fantastic with a standing ovation for Murray Hamilton (Patton's friend General Hap Gay) who himself was dying of cancer during filming and passed away the month it was released, Sep 1986. Knowing this, you might be particularly affected by a scene where Hap laments the impending death of his friend Patton, a quiet but powerful monologue where he talks about the tragedy of a great life ending in such a common way.
The only "problem" with this film, through no fault of its own, is that it's in serious need of restoration. The only available copies seem to be on DVD transferred from VHS in 4:3 made-for-tv screen size. I would pay good money if this were remastered from the original 35mm print and released on blu-ray. In the first half there are stunning scenes of the European natural landscape, as well as convincing recreations of war-torn Bavaria with wrecked streets and castles. Unfortunately since this is an obscure film, we might never get that. So grab it while you can.