Brass Target (1978)

PG | 111 mins | Drama | 22 December 1978

Director:

John Hough

Writer:

Alvin Boretz

Producer:

Arthur Lewis

Cinematographer:

Tony Imi

Editor:

David Lane

Production Designer:

Rolf Zehetbauer

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
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HISTORY

Although the film was initially known as The Colonels, as reported in the 14 Mar 1977 DV, production notes in AMPAS library files also referred to the picture as Patton, General George S. and Death of Target.
       According to the 13 Dec 1978 Var review, the fictional figure targeted in Frederick Nolan’s 1974 source novel, The Algonquin Project, was replaced with the real-life figure of General George Patton in the movie.
       The following statements appear onscreen before the opening credits: “In August 1945, occupying forces of the U.S. Third Army discovered 250 million dollars in gold – the entire German Reichsbank reserve – in an abandoned salt mine.” And: “General George S. Patton ordered the gold sent to vaults in Frankfurt for safekeeping.”
       The following statements appear onscreen before the end credits: “On December 21, 1945, General George S. Patton Jr. died. Official records list the cause as a broken neck sustained in an automobile accident.” And: “On December 28, 1945, Martin Webber, president of the War Refugee Organization, died as the result of a ski accident. He was buried with honors in Berne, Switzerland.” And: “The missing Reichsbank gold has never been found.” End credits include the statement: "Filmed at Bavaria Studios in Munich, West Germany, and on location in Germany and Switzerland."
       The 29 May 1975 HR and 10 Jun 1975 Publishers Weekly announced that Martin Rackin and Martin Rackin Productions had acquired film rights to Nolan’s historical novel. However, Rackin died 15 Apr 1976 shortly after starting a company with executive producer Berle ... More Less

Although the film was initially known as The Colonels, as reported in the 14 Mar 1977 DV, production notes in AMPAS library files also referred to the picture as Patton, General George S. and Death of Target.
       According to the 13 Dec 1978 Var review, the fictional figure targeted in Frederick Nolan’s 1974 source novel, The Algonquin Project, was replaced with the real-life figure of General George Patton in the movie.
       The following statements appear onscreen before the opening credits: “In August 1945, occupying forces of the U.S. Third Army discovered 250 million dollars in gold – the entire German Reichsbank reserve – in an abandoned salt mine.” And: “General George S. Patton ordered the gold sent to vaults in Frankfurt for safekeeping.”
       The following statements appear onscreen before the end credits: “On December 21, 1945, General George S. Patton Jr. died. Official records list the cause as a broken neck sustained in an automobile accident.” And: “On December 28, 1945, Martin Webber, president of the War Refugee Organization, died as the result of a ski accident. He was buried with honors in Berne, Switzerland.” And: “The missing Reichsbank gold has never been found.” End credits include the statement: "Filmed at Bavaria Studios in Munich, West Germany, and on location in Germany and Switzerland."
       The 29 May 1975 HR and 10 Jun 1975 Publishers Weekly announced that Martin Rackin and Martin Rackin Productions had acquired film rights to Nolan’s historical novel. However, Rackin died 15 Apr 1976 shortly after starting a company with executive producer Berle Adams. Neither Rackin nor his production company are listed in the credits.
       Although news items in the 14 Mar 1977 DV and the 18 May 1977 HR reported that Blake Edwards would direct the film from a screenplay written by John Michael Hayes and Alvin Boretz, Edwards left the project and neither his nor Hayes’s names appear in onscreen credits.
       HR announced that principal photography would begin Fall 1977 on location in England, Germany and Switzerland, but a full-page advertisement in the 2 Mar 1978 DV announced that the production would begin shooting the following week on location in Bavaria, Germany and Switzerland. Production notes confirmed that filming began 6 Mar 1978 in Munich, Germany, before moving to locations in Burghausen, Germany, and in Wengen, Bern, Lucerne and Solothurn, Switzerland.
       News items in the 6 Jun 1977 Box , the 2 Feb 1978 Var and the 6 Dec 1978 HR reported that United Artists had acquired domestic distribution rights for Brass Target and would release the M-G-M presentation of the film on 22 Dec 1978. UA is not credited onscreen.
       Brass Target garnered several negative reviews upon its release. The 13 Dec 1978 Var described the characters as “one dimension [sic] and almost laughable in their cliched reactions to one another.” The 13 Dec 1978 HR found fault with the movie’s script, stating it “[failed] to create a single credible character,” and the 22 Dec 1978 NYT criticized director John Hough for “[doing] nothing to improve a bad script.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 Jun 1977.
---
Box Office
1 Jan 1979.
---
Daily Variety
14 Mar 1977.
---
Daily Variety
10 Feb 1978.
---
Daily Variety
2 Mar 1978
p. 13.
Daily Variety
18 Dec 1978
p. 3, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1978
p. 1, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1978
p. 16, 26.
LAHExam
23 Jun 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Apr 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Jan 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1978
p. 8.
New York Times
22 Dec 1978
p. 18.
Publishers Weekly
10 Jun 1975.
---
Variety
2 Feb 1978.
---
Variety
13 Dec 1978
p. 24, 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents
A Berle Adams/Arthur Lewis Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit mgr
1st asst dir
German asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills photog
Cam op
Focus puller
Gaffer
Head grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Graphics
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward head
MUSIC
Mus performed by
SOUND
Sd eng
Sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Dubbing mixer
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod exec
Prod supv
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Casting
Loc mgr, Germany
Loc mgr, Switzerland
2d unit supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Color by]
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Algonquin Project by Frederick Nolan (New York, 1974).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Colonels
Patton, General George S.
Death of Target
Release Date:
22 December 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 22 December 1978
New York opening: week of 22 December 1978
Production Date:
began 6 March 1978 in Germany and Switzerland
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 January 1979
Copyright Number:
PA24283
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
111
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Germany (West), Switzerland, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25318
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When Allied forces discover $250 million of Germany’s Reichsbank gold in 1945, General George S. Patton, Jr., orders the gold transported by train to a bank in Frankfurt, Germany. As he watches the train goes by, Colonel Gilchrist expresses anxiety to Colonel Donald Rogers about the gold onboard, but Rogers assures him everything is under control. Minutes later, men wearing gas masks trap the train in a tunnel, gas the soldiers guarding it and steal the gold. When news of the theft reaches Allied headquarters, the Russian general accuses American forces of the crime and Patton promises to recover the lost bars of gold. Later, Colonel Dawson of the army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) summons Major Joe De Lucca. Noting that the Reichsbank operation was identical to a train attack against enemy forces that the major secretly formulated and executed during the war, Dawson surmises that perpetrators must have inside knowledge of the major’s original plan. Although De Lucca has been discharged and is anxious to return home, Dawson arranges for him to stay and work the case. De Lucca goes to his friend, Colonel Mike McCauley of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), to bypass Dawson and get clearance to go home. As the colonel promises to arrange his release, De Lucca sees his former girl friend, Mara, and realizes she is now romantically involved with Colonel McCauley. Elsewhere, Patton’s aide, Colonel Stewart, secretly confirms to Rogers and Gilchrist that although solving the mystery of the train robbery is the CID’s responsibility, the general is personally investigating the theft. Stewart worries that Patton is sure to discover their scheme. ... +


When Allied forces discover $250 million of Germany’s Reichsbank gold in 1945, General George S. Patton, Jr., orders the gold transported by train to a bank in Frankfurt, Germany. As he watches the train goes by, Colonel Gilchrist expresses anxiety to Colonel Donald Rogers about the gold onboard, but Rogers assures him everything is under control. Minutes later, men wearing gas masks trap the train in a tunnel, gas the soldiers guarding it and steal the gold. When news of the theft reaches Allied headquarters, the Russian general accuses American forces of the crime and Patton promises to recover the lost bars of gold. Later, Colonel Dawson of the army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) summons Major Joe De Lucca. Noting that the Reichsbank operation was identical to a train attack against enemy forces that the major secretly formulated and executed during the war, Dawson surmises that perpetrators must have inside knowledge of the major’s original plan. Although De Lucca has been discharged and is anxious to return home, Dawson arranges for him to stay and work the case. De Lucca goes to his friend, Colonel Mike McCauley of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), to bypass Dawson and get clearance to go home. As the colonel promises to arrange his release, De Lucca sees his former girl friend, Mara, and realizes she is now romantically involved with Colonel McCauley. Elsewhere, Patton’s aide, Colonel Stewart, secretly confirms to Rogers and Gilchrist that although solving the mystery of the train robbery is the CID’s responsibility, the general is personally investigating the theft. Stewart worries that Patton is sure to discover their scheme. Later, De Lucca informs Colonel McCauley that in conducting his own investigation outside of official channels, he discovered that someone sold $1 million in gold at a bank in Paris, France. McCauley urges De Lucca to leave the matter to CID, then meets Rogers later and chides the colonel for selling the gold so soon after the theft. When McCauley warns Rogers that De Lucca will expose them if they fail to send him home soon, Rogers counters that the bigger problem is Patton’s interest in the case and suggests that the only way to stop the general is to kill him. McCauley attempts to withdraw from the operation but Rogers insists that since the colonel sold him De Lucca’s train plan, he cannot get out now. In Switzerland, Colonel McCauley hires an assassin who poses as “Peter Shelley,” and insists that Patton’s murder look like an accident. McCauley returns home to Frankfurt, where Rogers has him killed. When De Lucca hears of his friend’s death, he examines McCauley’s effects and finds a code linking an appointment with a man referred to only as “S” to a New York prison inmate named Charles “Lucky” Luciano. Before departing for New York, De Lucca informs Mara that McCauley is dead and tries to arrange to see her when he returns, but she refuses to renew their relationship. Later, at the New York prison, De Lucca learns that Luciano helped McCauley contact an assassin in Switzerland. As the assassin commissions the construction of a special firearm and ammunition, De Lucca and Dawson inform Rogers of the assassination plot and their suspicion that Patton is the target. Noting that Patton is due to be sent home on 10 December 1945, Rogers tries to convince De Lucca and Dawson that General Dwight D. Eisenhower may be the real target. Later, De Lucca reconciles with Mara and convinces her to stay with him. Elsewhere, after collecting his custom-made weapon capable of shooting bullets that break the neck without breaking the skin, the assassin removes his disguise and resumes his life as Martin Webber, head of the War Refugee Committee in Berne, Switzerland. In Frankfurt, Rogers reassures Gilchrist that they can stop De Lucca before he finds the assassin and connects the killer to them. Meanwhile, De Lucca and Mara travel to Berne, where each learns that the other knew Webber during the war. De Lucca visits Webber to ask his help in finding the hired killer they know as “S” until Mara interrupts the meeting with news of an urgent message. In responding to the message, De Lucca is ambushed by the man who killed Colonel McCauley and drawn into a gunfight that ends when De Lucca shoots his assailant. Later, Webber kills Patton’s aide, Colonel Stewart, and leaves behind a clue implicating the real Peter Shelley. Webber then lures Peter Shelley to a Frankfurt hotel under false pretenses. Back at the army base, De Lucca and Dawson inform Rogers they now know that Peter Shelley is the name of the man who killed Stewart and was hired to assassinate Patton. Rogers increases security for Patton, authorizes a manhunt for Peter Shelley and urges Dawson to inform him immediately if they find the killer. While Webber sets up his equipment at an abandoned church, military police track the real Peter Shelley to the hotel. De Lucca and Dawson rush to take Peter Shelley into custody but Rogers and Gilchrist arrive at the hotel first. They kill Peter Shelley and the military police, then shoot at De Lucca and Dawson who return fire and kill the colonels. The next day, as Patton prepares to leave on a regularly scheduled hunting trip, Webber infiltrates the army base, tampers with Patton’s car, then resumes his post at the abandoned church. Meanwhile, De Lucca suspects that since they have no physical evidence tying Peter Shelley to any murders and Patton’s imminent departure meant there was no need to assassinate him, someone else is involved in the plot. On his way to question Patton, De Lucca runs into Mara who divulges that she saw Webber on the army base. De Lucca surmises that Webber is the one targeting Patton. Meanwhile, Webber secretly arranges for Patton’s entourage to make an unscheduled stop on the way to his hunt. As De Lucca attempts to catch up to Patton’s car, Webber assembles his gun and takes his mark. Patton’s car stops and the general rolls down the window but cannot roll it up. Just as Patton’s car drives away and crashes into a truck Webber strategically placed, the assassin fires his customized bullet, breaking the general’s neck. Although army personnel deduce Patton was injured in the car accident, De Lucca finds an oddly shaped bullet at the accident site and concludes that Patton was shot. When De Lucca confides in Mara his suspicion that Webber is the assassin, she confesses that Webber was her lover when she was a war refugee. Mara insists she knows how to keep Webber from targeting De Lucca next. Days later, in Switzerland, De Lucca receives a package and a note from Mara instructing him to use the enclosed keys to get the evidence he seeks. De Lucca watches the seemingly reconciled Mara and Webber go skiing, then enters their house and finds the case containing the gun and specialized bullets identical to the one he saw at Patton’s crash site. When Webber and Mara return to the house, De Lucca confronts Webber, who attempts to escape by skiing away. De Lucca shoots Webber with the custom gun. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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