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Battleground [DVD] [1949]

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, James Whitmore, Douglas Fowley
  • Directors: William A. Wellman
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00C05XMLC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 171,452 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Director William Wellman (The Big Heat) offered up this 1949 treatment of the Battle of the Bulge, which was nominated for six Oscars, winning two (for Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography). The film concentrates on the camaraderie and the divisions between the troops as they prepare for the big offensive. Told in a taut narrative, the men of the 101st, led by Van Johnson, wait out the winter in the Ardennes forest to confront the German army in what would be the last major offensive of World War II. The men are demoralised and trapped, with no hope of support from the Allies as they are forced to band together and defend their position. A classically assembled war drama that nevertheless manages to be both engrossing and entertaining, "Battleground" is a mainstay of the genre. --Robert Lane

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Mar. 2009
Format: DVD
This excellent war film may seem a little dated to modern eyes, but this does not reflect the true picture. "Battleground"(49) was actually a groundbreaking film for its time. It was the first film after WW2 to portray war with gritty realism. All of the soldiers get scared at some point in the film. This is very different to the John Wayne, Errol Flynn propoganda war films a few short years before. In these and other films the US Serviceman cut a heroic figure, but "Battleground" portrays them in a much more honest fashion.

The film was directed by William Wellman who made a lot of very average pictures, although he did make two interesting Westerns in "The Ox Bow Incident"(43) and "Yellow Sky"(48). The script was written by Robert Pirosh who based it on his experiences at "The Battle of the Bulge", where the Germans launched a massive counter attack in the Ardennes Forest. The film starred Van Johnson and John Hodiak.

The story follows the lives of a platoon of the famous American 101st Airborne Division as they struggle to survive the Siege of Bastogne when their troops were completely surrounded. On the 22nd December 1944 the commanding Officer Brig Gen McAuliffe was asked to surrender by German troops. His phlegmatic reply to this ultimatum was "NUTS". This true event is shown in the film. Bastogne was the scene of bitter fighting where many American and German lives were lost. There is a moving museum and memorial to these men in the town, which is well worth a visit. The fear and the cameraderie of these troops is shown realistically throughout the film. Despite heavy losses and privation in the bitter cold, the platoon battles on until relief eventually arrives in the form of Patton's Third Army.
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Format: DVD
Dedicated to the battered bastards of Bastogne, this major player in the war film genre is directed by William Wellman & tells the story of a U.S. Army division involved in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The terrific cast features George Murphy, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, Van Johnson and James Whitmore. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two: one for Robert Pirosh's bold and fluctuating screenplay and one for Paul Vogel's realism inducing black-and-white cinematography.

Battleground is an important war film in many ways. Coming as it did at the tail end of the 40s, it was not required to be a flag waving morale booster for a country at war. Free of this burden, Wellman & Pirosh {an actual veteran of the Bastogne engagement}, crafted a grunts eye view of the war. Forcing us the viewers to spend the whole of the movie with one army squad {the 101st Airborne Divsion}, we get to know them, their fears & peccadilloes etc. Pirosh cleverly telling it as it was, scared men doing their duty. It's that we have been with them as their persona's have been laid bare, that makes the battle sequences even more potent. The jokes have stopped, the camaraderie and harmless rivalries replaced by men crying for their mothers or in some mud hole fighting for their lives. This snow covered, and fog shrouded part of Belgium a bleak canvas for the harshness of war {amazingly shot on the lot}. It's a stunningly structured film, one that doesn't resort to type, it subverts the many war film plot developments that are rife in genre pieces that both preceded and came post its release.

The cast are uniformly strong, and all get get ample time to impact on the narrative. Something that isn't always the case with ensemble pieces.
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Format: DVD
The perfect companion for all movie enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

William A. Wellman delivers a powerful film in Battleground (1949), one of the best war movies ever. Though its "grunt's-eye view" of the Battle of the Bulge isn't particularly novel, its excellent script and cast, and its feeling of stark, desolate reality, make it a standout in its genre.

The movie scores through a series of grim, telling details: Private Roderigues (Ricardo Montalban) is left behind and trapped under his own army's artillery; various characters marching with feet bound in rags; a soldier killed trying to gain a dead colleague's boots. Soldiers are economically established, obtaining a chummy rapport that turns into grim professionalism under fire. Battle scenes are frenetic, confused fire-fights in the forest, between men who can hardly see each other. The elements - in this case, a massive snow storm - are just dangerous as the Nazis, even those who disguise themselves as GIs. Acts of "movie" heroism are limited: one character makes a disastrous mistake and doesn't get to rectify it. The best scene involves Holley (Van Johnson) fleeing in the middle of a firefight, only to be shamed into heroism by an unknowing Private.

Wellman's direction is modest but effective. That the movie was shot on studio backlots actually enhances the drama; combined with the stark black-and-white photography and snow-bound art direction, the movie has a unique feel of claustrophobia and desolation. The largely unseen enemy, the vast expanse of the snowy Ardennes, and the mixture of monotony and terror are all potently real.
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