"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."
— George S. Patton
Patton is a 1970 film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola based on the life of General George S. Patton. The title general was played by George C Scott in his most iconic role. Its story concerns Patton as he leads the American forces during World War II. On the battlefield, he was a military genius respected by both sides. Off the battlefield, Patton's ego and volatile temperament more than often reared its ugly head. While Patton believed himself destined for greater glory, his very temperament is what proves to be the undoing of his military career. This was the winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture of the Year.
Patton provides examples of the following tropes:
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "How dare you compare the Nazis to the Republicans and Democrats." Yeah, insulting one's allies, slapping privates, and offering to start World War III is one thing. But insulting the Republicans and Democrats is unforgivable. It wasn't so much the seriousness of the offenses, but their timing. Patton was criticized for the first, and severely punished for the second, but the war wasn't over so he wasn't considered more trouble than he was worth.
Patton: We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose!
Part of his success both in the movie and real life. While contemporaries fought more conservatively, he was able to use the momentum of his attacks to great effect. It's also shown backfiring on Patton; in the Battle of the Bulge scene late in the movie, it's mentioned that Patton's troops ran out of gas and got pinned down by German forces, taking heavy casualties. In the actual battle, this was caused by Patton having advanced so fast that his supply trains couldn't keep up with the front lines.
Consultant on Board: Omar Bradley (Patton's subordinate, then commander) was the primary consultant for the film. Bradley's awesomeness is talked up by nearly everyone in the film.
Contrast Montage: As Patton reads the preacher's "weather prayer", we get scenes of night-time battles across snow-covered hills with only Patton's voice for sound. The silent explosions and falling soldiers are stark and shocking, but the prayer provides just cause for why American soldiers fought and died.
Digital Destruction: The overly smooth and grain-free Blu-Ray Disc released in 2008 helped open people's eyes to the negative side effects of digital noise reduction. 20th Century Fox released a Blu-Ray with a more detailed and film-like picture quality four years later.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: When Capt. Steiger tells Nazi Chief of Staff Alfred Jodl that Patton's preferred method of discipline is about to get him a court-martial and off the battlefield, Jodl replies that they would never "keep their best general out of the war just for slapping a soldier." Of course, Steiger ends up being right. Which you could just as easily call "Common Sense Cannot Comprehend Politics".
What the Nazis couldn't comprehend was that Patton was still punished and kept off the front lines, and assigned to the humiliating job of decoy while the Allies planned their Normandy invasion. The Nazis were convinced (until it was too late) that Patton was leading a (fictitious) army into Calais, and it kept the German reserves inactive until the Allies practically freed most of France. The Wehrmacht never thought that the Allies would hold back one of the better American generals as a punishment...
From the point of view of Dwight Eisenhower (commander over the European theater of the war) it was a win-win situation: the Germans were fooled, and he managed to sideline a general he regarded as an Ax Crazy loose cannon.
Field Promotion: When the Sicilian attack doesn't go as quickly as planned, Patton fires the officer he deems responsible, and promotes the nearest at hand.
Subverted at the end, when a humbled Patton - after being relieved of command for the second (and final time) - remembers his Roman history:
"A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning, that all glory is fleeting"...
Gratuitous French: Patton, on at least three occasions in the film. The first one (an untranslated conversation with his aide in North Africa) is long enough to count as a Bilingual Bonus for those who understand the language.
Historical Beauty Update: Not in actual physical handsomeness, but the real Patton was a much less impressive public speaker than this movie would lead you to believe. He actually had a weak, somewhat high-pitched voice whereas Scott speaks with a deep gravelly voice.
The Lancer: General Omar Bradley is Patton's Lancer in the early days of the war, in North Africa and Sicily. Then he gets promoted over Patton after that slapping incident and Patton becomes Bradley's Lancer in France after D-Day.
Mr. Exposition: The German officer Captain Steiger. Screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola said part of the reason he invented the character was to give out biographical information about Patton to the audience.
In Real Life, Patton hated cartoonist Bill Maudlin (he of "Willie and Joe" fame) and personally threatened the artist after an unflattering cartoon that dissed Patton's obsession with orderly uniforms.
Scenery Porn: The movie is gorgeous to look at. Until everything gets blowed up by tanks.
Staff of Authority: General Patton is portrayed frequently carrying a riding crop, indicating both his status as an officer with something of a flair for the dramatic, and his background in the cavalry.
Tanks, But No Tanks: The German Tanks were played by, ironically enough, M-47 Pattons. They didn't even try to hide the fact.
Tempting Fate: In an argument over the availability of Allied air support, a British officer declares that Patton would never see another German plane on the battlefield. Immediately afterwards, two German planes strafe the headquarters.
Trashcan Bonfire: Used to burn documents in the Nazi headquarters at the end of the war.
The Unseen: Dwight D Eisenhower. Film makers wanted to cast someone to have Ike appear as a cameo but it never worked out. Instead, Eisenhower becomes a God-like being able to pass judgment on Patton and his (mis)deeds.
Worst News Judgment Ever: During a speech to a crowd of British women, Patton says that the Americans and British will rule the world, and makes no mention of the Russians. Cut to newsreel proclaiming "Patton insults Russian allies". To be fair he was specifically coached to include the Russians and declined to do so.
In reality Patton did mention the Russians in his speech at Knutsford, but the reporters deliberately left it out of their articles, thus whipping up a scandal on totally fictitious grounds.
Patton also mentions he would give the German pilots who strafed his command center far behind the lines a medal for valor if he could. The German pilots had unwittingly proved Patton's point more eloquently than the man could himself.
Wrote the Book: Played with. General Patton knows that Rommel literally wrote the book on tank warfare, so he reads it and uses that knowledge to predict what Rommel will do at their first big showdown.
In reality, Rommel completed a book on infantry tactics ("Infantry Attacks", which is still available today). His planned book on tank warfare was never completed; much of the material which was intended to go into it is available in "The Rommel Papers". Patton himself was as much a pioneer of tank tactics as Rommel was, as far back as World War I and before.