Battleground (1950)

118 mins | Drama | 20 January 1950

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writer:

Robert Pirosh

Producer:

Dore Schary

Cinematographer:

Paul C. Vogel

Editor:

John Dunning

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "This story is about, and dedicated to, those Americans who met General Heinrich von Luttwitz and his 47 Panzer Corps and won for themselves the honored and immortal name 'The Battered Bastards of Bastogne.'" Robert Pirosh's credit appears onscreen as "Story and screenplay by Robert Pirosh, Associate Producer." The film is based, in part, on actual events that took place in the Ardennes Forest in December of 1944. The Nazi counterattack and the overwhelming Allied resistance with which it was met is commonly referred to as the "Battle of the Bulge." According to the onscreen credits, members of one of the original resistance forces, the "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne Division, appear in the film. Lt. Col. Harry W. O. Kinnard, the technical advisor on this film, served as a World War II intelligence officer at the Battle of The Bulge, according to a Mar 1949 DV news item. An Aug 1948 HR news item indicates that former RKO production head Dore Schary purchased the rights to the Battleground script from RKO following his move to M-G-M. According to the news item, the film, which was one of several projects at RKO that were shelved when Schary resigned, was to have been made by Jesse Lasky and Walter MacEwan. The news item also noted that RKO had already invested approximately $100,000 in the film before it was shelved.
       In Oct 1948, following M-G-M's acquisition of the property, a HR news item noted that Robert Taylor, Van Johnson John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban and Keenan Wynn were set to star, ... More Less

The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "This story is about, and dedicated to, those Americans who met General Heinrich von Luttwitz and his 47 Panzer Corps and won for themselves the honored and immortal name 'The Battered Bastards of Bastogne.'" Robert Pirosh's credit appears onscreen as "Story and screenplay by Robert Pirosh, Associate Producer." The film is based, in part, on actual events that took place in the Ardennes Forest in December of 1944. The Nazi counterattack and the overwhelming Allied resistance with which it was met is commonly referred to as the "Battle of the Bulge." According to the onscreen credits, members of one of the original resistance forces, the "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne Division, appear in the film. Lt. Col. Harry W. O. Kinnard, the technical advisor on this film, served as a World War II intelligence officer at the Battle of The Bulge, according to a Mar 1949 DV news item. An Aug 1948 HR news item indicates that former RKO production head Dore Schary purchased the rights to the Battleground script from RKO following his move to M-G-M. According to the news item, the film, which was one of several projects at RKO that were shelved when Schary resigned, was to have been made by Jesse Lasky and Walter MacEwan. The news item also noted that RKO had already invested approximately $100,000 in the film before it was shelved.
       In Oct 1948, following M-G-M's acquisition of the property, a HR news item noted that Robert Taylor, Van Johnson John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban and Keenan Wynn were set to star, and that the picture was given a $2,000,000 budget. An Oct 1948 HR news item noted that Pandro S. Berman was set to produce the film, but his contribution to the released film has not been determined. A HR production chart lists actor Jim Mitchell in the cast, but he did not appear in the released film. A pre-production news item in HR noted that half of the picture was to be filmed in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. A May 1949 HR news item adds that Fort Lewis, WA served as the background for the tank sequence depicting the relief of Bastogne. According to a May 1949 HR news item, Schary instituted a system of dubbing and cutting during production which made it possible to preview the film within forty-eight hours of the scenes being filmed. Each day's film was processed as it was shot, reducing the average time between completion and preview by several weeks.
       Schary completed the film twenty days under its original shooting schedule by instituting several other innovations. He also ordered twenty-five sets built on one sound stage, and then had art director Hans Peters map out in detail the terrain, action and possible camera angles. Copies of these drawings were then given to director William Wellman and cinematographer Paul Vogel. Some of the sets were used several times over as the film's actions shifted, according to a Jun 1949 HR news item.
       Battleground marked the first film in which actor Herbert Anderson was billed as "Guy Anderson." After several years, Anderson returned to the used of the name "Herbert."
       The Washington, D.C. premiere was attended by Brig. Gen. A. C. McAuliffe, the defender of Bastogne, according to an Oct 1949 DV news item. Robert Pirosh, who himself fought in the Battle of the Bulge, received an Academy Award for Best Story and Screenplay, and Paul C. Vogel received an Academy Award in the category of Best Black-and-White Cinematography. The film also received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (James Whitmore); and Best Editing. Battleground was listed as the Best Picture of the Year by Photoplay . According to a DV news item, the film took in $3,750,000 at the box office and was M-G-M's largest grossing film in five years. In 1951, Van Johnson starred in M-G-M's follow-up film to this picture, entitled Go for Broke , which was written and directed by Robert Pirosh. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Dec 49
p. 436-37, 448.
Box Office
8 Oct 1949.
---
Daily Variety
10 Mar 49
p. 10.
Daily Variety
5 Apr 49
p. 8.
Daily Variety
28 Sep 49
p. 3, 6
Daily Variety
26 Oct 49
p. 3.
Daily Variety
17 Nov 49
p. 1.
Daily Variety
20 Feb 50
p. 1.
Film Daily
28 Sep 49
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 48
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1949.
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1949.
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 49
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 49
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 49
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Oct 49
p. 33.
New York Times
12 Nov 49
p. 8.
Variety
28 Sep 49
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Guy Anderson
Jim Arness
Eugene Gericke
William "Red" Murphy
Charles B. Smith
Dick Jones
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mont seq
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
STAND INS
Unit mgr
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 January 1950
Premiere Information:
Washington, D.C. premiere: 9 November 1949
Los Angeles premiere: 1 December 1949
Production Date:
5 April--3 June 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 October 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2594
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
118
Length(in feet):
10,988
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13886
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In December of 1944, only days before Christmas, battle-weary soldiers of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, stationed at an Army base in France, eagerly await their long-promised leave in Paris. Their hopes of a rest are dashed, however, when they are given orders to go to the Belgian town of Bastogne and hold back the 47th German Panzer Corps, which is advancing through Allied lines. Among those sent to defend the French town are Jarvess, a small town newspaper columnist; Holley, a girl crazy soldier; Roderigues, a Mexican American enlistee; "Pop" Stazak, an older serviceman from Wichita, Kansas; Jim Layton, a new recruit; and Kinnie, the platoon leader. Soon after the men arrive in Bastogne, they meet Denise, an attractive French woman who provides them with lodging. While patrolling the fog-shrouded woods near Bastogne, the American soldiers come under intense enemy fire and realize that they have been surrounded and trapped by the Germans. The American soldiers, fighting without air support, soon find themselves engaged in a long battle to keep the Nazis out of Bastogne. The stand-off exacts its first American casualty when Roderigues is struck by an enemy bullet. Unable to carry the wounded Roderigues through the snow to safety, his fellow soldiers hide him under an abandoned jeep and promise to return for him. A short time later, Holley and a small rescue party return for Roderigues, only to find that he has died. As the fighting in the woods near Bastogne intensifies, the American casualties continue to mount. Following a late night surprise attack on the division by a Nazi patrol, the Americans capture a number of Nazi prisoners and ... +


In December of 1944, only days before Christmas, battle-weary soldiers of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, stationed at an Army base in France, eagerly await their long-promised leave in Paris. Their hopes of a rest are dashed, however, when they are given orders to go to the Belgian town of Bastogne and hold back the 47th German Panzer Corps, which is advancing through Allied lines. Among those sent to defend the French town are Jarvess, a small town newspaper columnist; Holley, a girl crazy soldier; Roderigues, a Mexican American enlistee; "Pop" Stazak, an older serviceman from Wichita, Kansas; Jim Layton, a new recruit; and Kinnie, the platoon leader. Soon after the men arrive in Bastogne, they meet Denise, an attractive French woman who provides them with lodging. While patrolling the fog-shrouded woods near Bastogne, the American soldiers come under intense enemy fire and realize that they have been surrounded and trapped by the Germans. The American soldiers, fighting without air support, soon find themselves engaged in a long battle to keep the Nazis out of Bastogne. The stand-off exacts its first American casualty when Roderigues is struck by an enemy bullet. Unable to carry the wounded Roderigues through the snow to safety, his fellow soldiers hide him under an abandoned jeep and promise to return for him. A short time later, Holley and a small rescue party return for Roderigues, only to find that he has died. As the fighting in the woods near Bastogne intensifies, the American casualties continue to mount. Following a late night surprise attack on the division by a Nazi patrol, the Americans capture a number of Nazi prisoners and take them back to Bastogne. Greatly outnumbered by the Nazis, the men of the 101st Airborne believe their situation to be near hopeless. One day, Nazi officers attempt to negotiate an American surrender, but General A. C. McAuliffe, the highest ranking officer in charge of the operation, responds with just a single word: "Nuts!" A short time later, the Lutheran chaplain delivers a moving sermon to the defenders of Bastogne and reminds them of the importance of their mission. As the fog lifts around Bastogne for the first time since the Nazis began their counterattack, American bombers and relief planes are seen flying overhead. The men of the 101st Airborne Division rejoice at the sight of the planes, and the arrival of the reinforcements make it possible for the Americans to quickly defeat the Nazis. With their mission accomplished, the men of the 101st Airborne Division march out of Bastogne. +

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

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