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Film / Patton

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"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 and starring George C. Scott in his most iconic role.

The film concerns Patton as he leads the American forces during World War II. On the battlefield, he was a competent commander respected by both sides. Off the battlefield, Patton's planet-sized ego and volatile temperament more than often reared its ugly head. While Patton believed himself destined for greater glory, his very delusional 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.

Scott reprised the role in a much lesser-known 1986 TV sequel, The Last Days of Patton, which takes place during and after the car accident that took his life, as well as his earlier career during World War I.

Rommel, you Magnificent Bastard I list your TROPES!

  • Adaptation Distillation: In reality, Patton slapped two soldiers in two separate incidents in August 1943. We only see the latter one.
  • America Won World War II: Averted. Despite focusing on one of America's most famous generals, the film quite clearly shows British efforts in Africa, Italy, and France. The fact that the Soviets got to Berlin first is also a minor plot point, since Patton is convinced he could have done it himself if he had been allowed to.
  • Answer to Prayers: During the Battle of the Bulge, as the Germans are overwhelming American positions in Belgium, the titular American General asks the Chaplain to write a prayer for good weather, interspersed with him visiting a church and praying in silence. The very next day, his prayer is answered, with clear skies overhead and American troops pushing the Germans back.
    Patton: I'm tired of 3rd Army having to fight <snip> this ungodly weather. I want a prayer, a weather prayer.
    Chaplain: A weather prayer, sir?
    Patton: Yes, let's see if you can't get God working with us.
    Chaplain: Gonna take a thick rug for that kind of praying.
    Patton: I don't care if it takes a flying carpet.
    Chaplain: I don't know how this will be received, general. Praying for good weather so we can kill our fellow man.
    Patton: I assure you, because of my relations with the Almighty, if you write a good prayer, we'll have good weather. And I expect that prayer within an hour.
  • At Least I Admit It: Patton says the difference between himself and Montgomery is that he admits he's a prima donna, while Monty won't.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • When Rommel is introduced, he is listed as being the commander of the Afrika Korps, which he was only in direct command of for six months in 1941. At the time of the Tunisia Campaign, he was in command of Army Group Africa. This can be justified as the Allies often referred to all of the German desert forces as the Afrika Korps, even when the German presence in North Africa (which included the DAK as a distinct formation) greatly expanded to include several corps and an army group.
    • At no point is Rommel depicted wearing his Pour le Mérite medal from World War I.
    • The morning of the Battle of El Guettar, Patton is shown with a copy of Rommel's "The Tank in Attack" on his nightstand. However, Rommel never actually completed that book; the one he wrote was "Infantry Attacks."
    • When he is meeting with Bradley to receive a command in France, Patton mentions that Hitler's own men have just tried to kill him, a reference to the July 20 plot. In the following scene, Rommel tries to convince Jodl to release the 15th Army from Calais. The July 20 plot occurred six weeks after D-Day. By then, the Germans had already realized that Normandy was indeed the anticipated Allied invasion. In addition, Rommel was wounded in an air strike three days prior to Stauffenberg's attempt. By the time Operation Cobra started, he was recovering in hospital.
    • During the Battle of the Bulge, one of the attacking German armies is identified as "6th SS Panzer Army." There was no such unit. It was actually the 6th Panzer Army, though it did include multiple SS units and was commanded by an SS general.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!
    • Lampshaded as part of Patton's opening speech:
      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. Patton's contemporaries liked to execute offensives with adequate food, fuel, and ammunition. Patton, on the other hand, would launch his own as soon as possible without adequate supplies of any — sometimes catching his enemies by surprise. It's also shown backfiring on Patton; in a scene late in the movie during the race across France, it's mentioned that Patton's troops ran out of petrol and got pinned down by German forces, taking heavy casualties. In the actual battle they were only critically low on it (i.e. they had a few hours or minutes of operation left).
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Of the decidedly villainous flavor. Steiger is able to work out what Patton's plan in Sicily would be by studying the man's history and mentality.
  • Badass Boast: One of his famous ones, delivered during Operation Cobra:
    Soldier: Where ya goin' General?
    Patton: Berlin! I'm gonna personally shoot that paper-hanging son of a bitch!
  • Bandage Mummy: Just prior to the infamous slapping incident, Patton encounters a badly wounded soldier, swathed in bandages. Even Patton is visibly affected; he pins a Purple Heart to the man's pillow, then leans over to whisper in his ear.
  • Battle Epic: A relatively restrained example: although there are numerous battle scenes throughout the film, they're mostly shown in short snippets or montages rather than depicted in detail. The main exceptions are the air raid at Patton's headquarters, El Guettar and the night ambush during Operation Cobra.
  • Benched Hero: Hero in the "protagonist" sense, anyway. Patton is forced to sit out a pretty long spell of the war as punishment for his outbursts, which for a Blood Knight with a sense of destiny is a daily torture.
    Patton: An entire world at war, and I'm left out of it?!
  • Berserk Button: Patton has the belief that all Humans Are Warriors, especially Americans, and is not fond of any soldier claiming to suffer from "Battle Fatigue": to him, such a man is just a Dirty Coward.
  • Beta Outfit: Patton recalls a design he made for tank uniforms. It was rejected by the army though (in Real Life because the form was considered too out of date).
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Even in this movie, the Battle of El Guettar stands out as one of the most impressive depictions of WWII tank warfare.
  • The Big Board: German Captain Steiger keeps one to keep track of German casualties as he researches Patton. Also funny on a meta-level, because Scott's character in Dr. Strangelove was the Trope Namer for The Big Board.
  • Bling of War: In the opening flag speech scene, Patton is decked out in all his regalia he earned at the summit of his career, including his engraved ivory-handled revolvers.
  • Blood Knight: Patton:
    Bradley: I do this job because I've been trained to. You do it because... you love it!
    Patton: I love it! God help me, I do love it so. I love it more than my life.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Patton shoots two horses that are blocking a bridge, prevented his armored column from advancing. He shoots them in the head, from point-blank range, with a .45 revolver. When the horses are shown lying on the ground afterwards, there's no damage to their heads at all, and no blood in sight. In reality, the .45 rounds would have left massive wounds and blood would have been gushing everywhere.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Patton. "The pure warrior. A magnificent anachronism." To hear him tell it, he was born in a lot of them.
  • Brick Joke: Patton tells Bradley that, when he was a young soldier, what terrified him more than anything was the thought of a bullet coming straight for his nose. Not long after, when German bombers are strafing his headquarters, he runs outside and dares the pilots to take a shot at his nose.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Patton is a downplayed one. On the battlefield, he's a competent and aggressive (if somewhat reckless and callous) commander who gets results. Off the battlefield, he's a public relations nightmare who doesn't know what to do with himself.
  • Byronic Hero: Patton. Flamboyant, intelligent, courageous, charismatic if controversial, and with Blood Knight tendencies.
  • Call-Forward: Patton's death is not covered in the movie, but when he is saved in the nick of time from the oxcart and says "After all I've been through, imagine getting killed by an oxcart!", it's looking forward to it. Patton was in a motor vehicle accident in Europe on December 8, 1945, paralyzing him from the neck down. He died two weeks later.
  • Cavalry Officer: The title character. Not only was he once a horse Cavalry Officer, he played the trope to a hilt.
  • Celebrating the Heroes: At the very end of the film Patton narrates a story about The Roman Empire's version of this:
    For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: As it happened in real life. One of the more awesome scenes is Patton firing at a Nazi bomber strafing his command. Towards the end, he barely avoids a runaway cart, which foreshadows his death in a traffic accident several months later. The TV movie sequel The Last Days of Patton, takes place during and after said car accident that took his life.
  • Cigar Chomper: Patton pulls a cigar out of his pocket to celebrate his promotion to Lieutenant General.
  • Circling Vultures: They aren't circling, but they're there, on the ground amongst the bodies of dead American soldiers at Kasserine Pass. An angry soldier shoots a pair of them.
  • Cold Open: Patton's famous speech in front of the giant flag.
  • Combat by Champion: Patton considers himself and Rommel to be the best commanders on either side and wishes he could face Rommel in single combat to decide the outcome of the entire war. While in tanks.
  • Consultant on Board: Omar Bradley (Patton's subordinate, then commander) was the primary consultant for the film. Naturally, 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.
  • Corpsing: In universe. When the Allied Generals debate what to do about Bastogne and Patton remarks that he can attack almost immediately because his staff figured out how to do it days ago, his Operations Officer sits with a hand over his mouth barely containing a smile.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The German counterattack that lead to the Battle of the Bulge, according to Patton himself:
    Patton: There's absolutely no reason for us to assume the Germans are mounting a major offensive. The weather is awful, their supplies are low, and the German Army hasn't mounted a winter offensive since the time of Frederick the Great. Therefore I believe that's exactly what they're going to do.
  • Cultured Warrior: Patton, again.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Several. Notably, the unseen opening Battle of Kasserine Pass, in which the Afrika Korps thoroughly wipe the floor with the inexperienced American soldiers.
  • Custom Uniform: Patton reminisces about one he proposed for tank crewmen, which was rejected. Green leather, red stripes, brass buttons, and a gold football helmet. Here he is wearing it.
  • Cutting the Knot: When Patton shoots the mules blocking the bridge in Sicily.
  • Death Glare: After refusing Russian caviar at a celebration for the end of the war, Patton gives a pointed look to the only one of his officers who accepts it until he puts it down.
  • Desert Warfare: The first act of the film shows battles between Patton's II. Corps and Rommel's Afrika Korps in Tunisia.
  • Desolation Shot: The opening (after the famous "flag speech" that is) where a battlefield is shown full of corpses with human and animal scavengers poking around.
  • Desperate Plea for Home: General Patton drives past several wounded soldiers, one of whom has his head bandaged, his arm in a sling, and keeps muttering "Home. Please take me home."
  • Deus ex Machina: Invoked by Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. With his forces bogged down by bad winter weather and stiff German resistance, he calls his Chaplain and orders him to write up a weather prayer to God, so they can 'get him on our side'. Sure enough, the next day there are clear blue skies, allowing Allied airpower to swoop in and help break the stalemate.
  • The Dreaded: Patton himself to the Germans. They've got a whole subsection of their intelligence department keeping track of his whereabouts.
  • 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.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: It's hard to blame Patton for being upset that, at the end of the day he's a soldier fighting to help win his country a war, and yet the press seems to opportunistically seize any chance they can get to villainize him or make him out to be a fool, all for the cynical goal of selling more papers.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The famous Cold Open in which Patton gives a speech to his men, outlining his philosophy of war, is an iconic example.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Capt. Steiger tells Wehrmacht Chief of Staff Alfred Jodl that Patton is being disciplined by the Allies for slapping an enlisted soldier. He might even be court-martialed. Jodl responds, "You believe their newspapers? Do you really think they would sacrifice their best general just because he slapped a soldier?" He laughs and walks off. Gilligan Cut to just that.
  • A Father to His Men: Of a harsh and stern variety, but he can be gentle and understanding when the situation calls for it. Except when it comes to not grasping that "battle fatigue" is real.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Patton views being relegated to a reserve command in the upcoming Normandy Invasion over the private-slapping incident to be entirely unjustified. The Germans don't believe the western Allies would really put their best mobile force commander on the bench over something so minor, either... which allows the western Allies to exploit Patton's reputation in Operation Fortitude, the massive deception campaign concealing Operation Overlordnote , to draw suspicion away from their actual plans by sending Patton all over the European Theater.
  • Field Promotion: When an attack in Sicily doesn't go as quickly as planned, Patton fires the officer he deems responsible, and promotes the second in command. Then he tells him if he doesn't succeed in four hours, his ass is getting fired as well.
    Major: Colonel, there's 50,000 men on this island who'd like to shoot that son of a bitch.
  • Final Battle: In the film, the Battle of the Bulge, which took place in the Ardennes forest.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since this is a biopic set towards the end of World War II, anyone who is familiar with Patton's history will already know that his forces will triumph in the Battle of the Bulge.
  • Foreshadowing: When Patton first arrives at the headquarters for II Corps, he visits the hospital and declares that no one will be admitted for "battle fatigue."
  • Four-Star Badass: Patton
  • Frontline General: During the battle with the 10th Panzer, Patton's on the front lines giving tactical orders. During the invasion of Sicily, he's shown scouting out a ford across a river while under enemy artillery fire. On several other occasions he's depicted driving around in battle areas.
  • Genre Blind
    • Patton does not seem capable of realizing how his actions and words will be perceived by those around him, or the media at large, and that is what consistently gets him into trouble.
    • The German intelligence officers also seem to be unable to comprehend (for the most part) that, as much as they may consider Patton a Worthy Opponent, Realpolitik is a real thing and a disciplined army and its supporters will eventually be pissed off one time too many, no matter how bad the risk of benching the Bunny-Ears Lawyer looks on paper.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Patton's preferred method of discipline.
  • The Ghost: Despite being mentioned dozens of times, Dwight Eisenhower is never seen or heard in the film.
  • Gilligan Cut: See Tempting Fate below.
  • Glory Seeker
    • Patton. Monty as well. The Ham-to-Ham Combat between the two generals is what drives the real conflict of the movie.
    • 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."
  • Godwin's Law: A complex Unbuilt Trope example. While fielding questions from reporters near the end, Patton is asked to explain why he is letting local Nazis continue to run day-to-day affairs in towns his troops have occupied despite the official denazification policy. He nonchalantly and somewhat absentmindedly agrees with one reporter's suggestion that most Germans were Just Following Orders, and that mere membership in the Nazi party was hardly any different from membership in the Democrat or Republican parties. This gets his superiors angry at him for supposedly equating the two American parties with the Nazi party.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Somewhat jokingly played when Bradley says they'll need someone gutsy to lead a successful attack.
    Officer: Patton?
    Bradley: [affirmatively] Possibly.
    Officer: [smiling] God help us!
  • 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 orator than this movie would lead you to believe. He actually had a higher-pitched, somewhat squeaky voice, at odds with Scott's portrayal with a deep, gravelly voice. The real Patton still managed to steal the spotlight when speaking, but that was because he practiced his posture, poses, and facial expressions literally for hours in order to increase his stage presence, and purposefully cultivated his (deserved) badass image with his immaculate uniform, dual holstered pistols, etc, in large part to compensate for the fact that his voice was weak and uninspiring by itself.
    • The movie also tones down Patton's legendary profanity. Particularly in the opening speech, several f-bombs were removed and some expressions were so foul they had to be cut, while others were toned-down. At the same time, according to those who knew him, he was not habitually foul-mouthed. While no boy scout, he was actually coarser in public than in private, cultivating it as part of his image and leadership style, saying, "You can't run an army without profanity."
    • Also Rommel receives one of these, which is odd since the other main generals in the movie were portrayed by actors with at least a passing resemblance. George C. Scott has some features in common with Patton, Michael Bates looks a lot like Monty, and Karl Malden is a dead-ringer for Bradley. But Karl Vogler looks nothing at all like the real Rommel. While Rommel was not unattractive, he was in his 50s, balding, and often ill or fatigued, while Vogler at the time of filming was 41 years old with a full head of hair.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Bradley, to an extent. Was he a greatly respected five-star general? Absolutely. Did he and Patton respect each other's military abilities? Without a doubt. But were the two of them best friends? Not at all. Did they even like each other? Not really, given their vastly different personalities. (It is worth noting that the real-life General Bradley was a consultant for the film.)
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Many people feel Montgomery receives this. Since the movie focuses on Patton, it would be hard to avoid making him a nominal antagonist, and the film does acknowledge Montgomery's military skill and contributions to the war.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Army Chaplain: General Patton, I was interested to see a Bible by your bed. Do you actually find time to read it?
    Patton: I sure do. Every goddamned day.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Air Vice-Marshal Coningham protests to Patton saying how a German plane strafed his command car, saying that the RAF has air supremacy throughout the Mediterranean. A minute later, Patton's headquarters is attacked by a pair of He 111s.
  • Ignored Expert: German High Command orders Captain Steiger to thoroughly research General Patton and his history, so they can better predict his movements and tactics. They then proceed to completely ignore his advice during the Sicilian and Normandy campaigns, to their own detriment.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The soldiers during the bombing run early on in the movie fail to hit two planes who make multiple strafes over them in broad daylight.
  • Insult Friendly Fire: A German officer notes that Bradley has a modest demeanor, unusual for a general, which gets him a glare from the German generals in the room.
    • Early in the film, Rommel's aide reports on Kasserine Pass by remarking, "British generals, American soldiers... the worst of everything!" Rommel shoots back, "I remind you that Montgomery is a British general, and he has chased us halfway across North Africa."
  • Ironic Juxtaposition:
    • Patton's iconic opening speech about the glories of war is followed by a scene of American corpses at Kasserine Pass being looted by locals.
    • During his visit to a field hospital, Patton gets a brief Pet the Dog moment where he whispers something (unintelligible to the audience, but clearly words of praise or encouragement) to a soldier who has obviously sustained crippling injuries. The audience gets a few seconds to entertain the idea that Patton may be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold... and then the private-slapping incident happens.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The First U.S. Army Group, drawing from Real Life.
  • 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 the slapping incident and Patton becomes Bradley's Lancer in France after D-Day.
  • Large Ham: George S. Patton believes himself to be a larger-than-life figure, and it shows in his every word and mannerism.
  • Little "No": The reaction of the Sicilian farmer when Patton shoots his donkeys.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Patton's In-Universe line is the Trope Namer, in reference to his Worthy Opponent, Erwin Rommel:
    "Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your BOOK!"
  • Mauve Shirt: Jenson, Patton's first aide, who gets killed pretty early on by a bombing run mid-fight.
  • Mildly Military: When Patton takes command of II. Corps in Tunisia, his headquarters is in shambles, the mess is open far longer than it should, and the soldiers barely maintain their uniforms. He remarks that it's no wonder they got the hell kicked out of them in their first engagement against the Germans. He quickly goes about instilling discipline.
  • Million Mook March: Lots of scenes of military traffic by both Redshirts and Mooks.
  • Mononymous Biopic Title: One of the most recognizable ones.
  • Mood Whiplash: The hospital scene, in which Patton goes from having a touching, almost fatherly moment with a badly wounded soldier, to angrily slapping - and being barely restrained from shooting - a shell shocked private, can be quite jarring.
  • 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.
  • Mutual Kill: While touring the aftermath of a tank skirmish in France, Patton sees an American and a German soldier who stabbed each other to death with bayonets.
  • Not So Above It All: Subverted. During his tour of his new headquarters, Patton goes through the barracks and sees a pinup girl poster on the wall. He initially gives an approving look...then whacks it down with his riding crop.
    "This is a barracks. It's not a bordello."
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: At one point, Patton tells Cod that he is perfectly positioned to smash through the German lines and take Berlin within ten days. Unfortunately, his fuel supplies have been cut off and he is forced to hold.
  • Number Two: Patton, to Bradley, late in the film.
  • Oh, Crap!
    • The reaction of a sloppy Desk Jockey officer when he is giving his excuses about a getting a new commanding officer and realizes that CO, Gen. Patton, is here now and he is obviously disgusted by the state of the unit.
    • Erwin Rommel has this look on his face when he is first briefed on Patton's history and his Attack! Attack! Attack! attitude.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Patton's aide is also named George.
  • Only Sane Man: Omar Bradley, who spends the entire movie trying to rein in Patton, first as his deputy, then as his commanding officer.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: A general theme is the conflict between Patton's aggressive philosophy and the other generals' more conservative approach.
  • Outscare the Enemy: Patton says that he'll make his men unafraid of the Germans, but "I hope to God they never lose their fear of me."
  • Political Cartoon: Patton is the target of one after the slapping incident.
    Patton: A swastika! On my boot!
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Steiger is able to figure out how Patton thinks, comparing him misinterpreting a young woman being helped into a van to Don Quixote rescuing Dulcinea. Jodl doesn't get what he's talking about.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: During the advance through France, a confused group of Allied officers is trying to figure out where they are on the map, until one of them figures out they've gone beyond the edge of the map, prompting cheers of triumph.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: When Patton makes a comment in French to his new aide, the aide responds in French and they have a brief conversation, none of which is translated for the audience.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Patton actually had a quite high-pitched voice, unlike George C. Scott's gravelly tones.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Bradley to Patton when the latter is pushing his army beyond reason in Sicily just so he (Patton) can get the personal satisfaction of reaching Messina before Gen. Montgomery:
    Bradley: You're gambling with those boys' lives just to beat Montgomery into Messina. If you pull it off, you're a hero, but if you don't? What happens to them: the ordinary combat soldier? He doesn't share in your dreams of glory. He's stuck here. He's living out every day, day-to-day, with death tugging at his elbow. There's one big difference between you and me, George. I do this job because I've been trained to do it. You do it love it.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Downplayed. Patton's reassignment to a reserve command isn't nearly as bad as being reassigned Stateside (the fate of his significantly less competent predecessor), and he still plays a major role in the aftermath of D-Day — but to Patton, Blood Knight Glory Seeker that he is, being posted anywhere other than the thick of battle is a snub.
  • Reincarnation: Patton believes in this, unusually for someone who otherwise seems to skew more toward Christianity. He claims that he was present at past battles such as the Siege of Carthage. While unveiling his plan of invading Sicily to a group of British officers, one of them says that, had Patton been born in the 18th century, he would have made a hell of a marshal for Napoleon, to which Patton responds that, as a matter of fact, he was.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Instead of carrying a M1911 pistol like other American officers do, Patton carries two revolvers instead: a Colt SAA and a S&W .357 Magnum, both featuring engraved frames and ivory handles. He uses his SAA to gun down two stubborn donkeys blocking a bridge that his army needs to cross.
    • A bit averted when he pulls out a M1903 Hammerless pistol and tries to shoot a flying German plane with it.
  • The Rival: GeneralField Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. Subverted with Rommel, since Patton never actually gets the chance to face him in the field.
  • Robbing the Dead: After the disastrous Battle of Kasserine Pass, the bodies of American soldiers are being looted by the locals.
  • Rousing Speech: The movie opens with a slightly-abridged version of the one Patton made to the men of the US 3rd Army right before they were deployed (the real speech had a lot more profanity).
  • Scenery Gorn: Lots of shots showing battles and their aftermath, but the one that sticks out the most is the scene immediately following Patton's famous Rousing Speech, showing the aftermath of the Battle of Kasserine Pass, with the corpses of American soldiers strewn across the desert and left for vultures and looters to pick at.
  • Scenery Porn: The movie is gorgeous to look at. Until everything gets blown up by tanks.
  • Serious Business: Patton takes dress code seriously, even telling a doctor he'll wear his helmet at all times, even when the man points out he can't use his stethoscope with it on. He also tells the cook he must be in full uniform, then has him fined for it (and that all officers must attend meals, you guessed it, in full uniform, right down to ties and clean shoes.)
  • Shoot the Dog: On one hand, shooting the villager's donkeys and dumping them and the guy's cart over the side of a bridge is a callous thing to do. On the other hand, an army on the march is incredibly vulnerable to enemy attack, and every second wasted on waiting for the road to clear was an extra second for the enemy to regroup and counterattack.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: Discussed by by Generals Bradley (soldier) and Patton (warrior).
    Bradley: That's the difference between you and me, George. I do this job because I've been trained to do it. You do it because *Beat* you love it.
  • 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.
  • Standard Hollywood Strafing Procedure
    • During the attack on Patton's headquarters by the Nazi bombers, the machine gunners in the planes' nose turrets strafe the ground, sending the American forces into confusion.
    • During the ambush of Rommel's attacking force, another pair of bombers strafes the location of General Bradley's command post.
    • The invasion of Sicily
      • While Patton is driving along an obstructed roadway, a German bomber flies along the road strafing the column of vehicles.
      • While trying to cross a bridge that's blocked by a donkey cart that refuses to budge, Patton's troops get strafed by another pair of bombers, causing an enraged Patton to shoot both donkeys and have their bodies and the cart they were pulling thrown off the bridge.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: After the war, Patton is asked by a reporter his thoughts on some of the German "wonder weapons" that have been captured. He's not impressed.
    Patton: "Wonder weapons?" My God, I don't see the wonder in them. Killing without heroics? Nothing is glorified? Nothing is reaffirmed? No heroes, no cowards, no troops, no generals. Only those who are left alive and those who are left... dead. I'm glad I won't live to see it.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Guess who. Patton can go from relatively composed to histrionic and back again at the drop of a hat.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: The German and American tanks were played by, ironically enough, M41 Walker-Bulldogs and M48 Pattons. They didn't even try to hide the fact.
  • Team Prima Donna: Patton and Monty. Their battling egos provide as much entertainment as the actual combat.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Patton and Monty are on the same side, but there's no force on Earth that will compel them to like each other.
    Monty: [upon seeing that the Yanks have beaten him to Messina] Don't smirk, Patton. I shan't kiss you.
  • 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.
  • That Russian Squat Dance: Seen at a party after Third Army has linked up with the Russians at the end of the war. Patton, who hates the Russians, is not impressed.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: Shown being used to burn documents in the German headquarters at the end of the war.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Patton's change of command at the beginning of the film has him laying down the law on the American II Corps, but given they've just been depantsed after the Battle of Kasserine Pass and are getting very lax in basic duty, they do need a kick in the ass or five.
  • 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, always off-screen, but able to pass judgment on Patton and his (mis)deeds.
    • Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt is repeatedly mentioned during the Battle of the Bulge, but he doesn't appear.
  • War Hero: The film has the American general seek to push his forces through Western France and into the Rhineland, but terrible weather hampers their advance, and worse, makes it difficult for American aircraft to locate their targets. General Patton charges a chaplain with composing a prayer for better weather, which the man does. Patton is heard reciting the prayer as American soldiers slog forth and die. The next day is clear and sunny, with American aircraft raining bombs galore on German positions. "Get me that chaplain," Patton orders. "That man stands in good with the Lord, and I want to decorate him." Specifically, Patton awarded him the Silver Star.
  • War Is Glorious: Patton certainly thinks so.
  • War Is Hell: The war is glorious for Patton. The scenes of the dying and wounded still allows for this interpretation.
    "There goes 'Old Blood and Guts'." "Yeah, our blood, his guts."
  • Warrior Poet: Patton, arguably the Trope Codifier for American war movies.
  • Warts and All: Despite the film portraying Patton as a brilliant commander, it also shows him as a complete and utter asshole whose bloodthirstiness and lack of tact caused no end of frustration to the Allies, to say nothing of him slapping a soldier suffering from battle fatigue for supposed cowardice, and immediately starting to antagonize the Soviets and trying to urge Eisenhower to start a war against them immediately after the Second World War has ended.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Patton, Montgomery, and Bradley spend as much time bickering over tactics as they do fighting the Germans, perhaps more.
  • Weapons Understudies
    • The German and American tanks were played by M41 Walker-Bulldogs and M48 Pattons.
    • The Afrika Korps' Heinkel He-111s are played by Spanish-built CASA 2.111s.
  • Weather Saves the Day: Weather continues to delay and threaten the advancement of the Allied forces commanded under General Patton. Patton, a religious man, asks his head chaplain to write a prayer to God asking for His assistance lifting the terrible weather. The next morning, the skies are pure clear blue, and Patton asks that the Chaplain be summoned to him to be decorated with a medal.
    "Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee of Thy great goodness to restrain this immoderate weather with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously harken to us, as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Patton suffers this after he slaps a soldier in the medical tent suffering from battle fatigue, in sharp contrast to him giving Purple Heart medals and even praying for one who was seriously wounded. He is forced to write an apology to his entire army as a result of it. In reality, he was only ordered to apologize to the soldiers he slapped (there was actually two). Patton went ahead and turned his PR blunder into an opportunity by making a formal apology not just to them, but to the other wounded men and the entire medical battalion. Also, one of them was actually being hospitalized for malaria, and when Patton learned of this, he summoned the private to his office and sincerely apologized for slapping him.
  • Winter Warfare: The final act features the Battle of the Bulge, in which Patton's 3rd Army disengaged from a separate battle and raced 100 miles north to relieve the besieged 101st Airborne at Bastogne, during one of the coldest European winters in history.
  • 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 Soviets. The newsreel headline goes "PATTON INSULTS RUSSIAN ALLIES".
  • Worthy Opponent
    • Rommel, of course.
    • Patton also mentions he would give the German pilots who strafed his command center far behind the lines medals if he could. The German pilots had unwittingly proved Patton's point more eloquently than the man could himself.
    • As his artillery pummels the German forces:
    "What a hell of a waste of fine infantry."
    • During the Sicily campaign, Patton scoffs at a claim that he's been facing light resistance when one of the enemy units was the Hermann Göring Division, one of the best outfits in the German Army.
  • Wrote the Book
    • Played with. General Patton knows that Rommel literally wrote a book on infantry tactics ("Infantry Attacks"), so he reads it and uses that knowledge to predict what Rommel will do at their first big showdown.
    Patton: Rommel, you Magnificent Bastard, I read your book!
    • Rommel did plan a book on tank tactics, but it was never completed; much of the material which was intended to go into it is available in The Rommel Papers. Patton himself was actually more of a pioneer of tank tactics than Rommel was, as Rommel's contributions had actually been very marginal compared to those of Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma, Hans von Seeckt, Oswalt Lutz, and Heinz Guderiannote .
  • You're Insane!: General Bedell Smith says this when Patton claims he'll get them into a war with the Soviets in ten days and make it look like their fault.
  • You Will Know What to Do: When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face.