DIRECTED BY WILLIAM A WELLMAN
PRODUCED BY ROBERT PIROSH/ DORE SCHARY
DIRECTED BY WILLIAM A WELLMAN
PRODUCED BY ROBERT PIROSH/ DORE SCHARY
Information From IMDb
We follow a band of American soldiers as they engage the Germans
in a snowy, foggy winter near Bastogne in World War II.
They're low on fuel, rations, and ammunition; the Germans are constantly
encouraging their surrender via radio and leaflets, and most importantly,
the pervasive thick fog makes movement and identification difficult
and prevents their relief by Allied air support.
This film focuses much more on the psychology
and morale of the soldiers than on action footage and heroics.
Written by Michael C. Berch
Van Johnson ... Holley
John Hodiak ... Jarvess
Ricardo Montalban ... Roderigues
George Murphy ... 'Pop' Stazak
Marshall Thompson ... Jim Layton
Jerome Courtland ... Abner Spudler
Don Taylor ... Standiferd
Bruce Cowling ... Wolowicz
James Whitmore ... Kinnie
Douglas Fowley ... 'Kipp' Kippton
Leon Ames ... The Chaplain
Herbert Anderson ... Hansan (as Guy Anderson)
Thomas E. Breen ... Doc
Denise Darcel ... Denise
Richard Jaeckel ... Bettis
James Arness ... Garby (as Jim Arness)
Scotty Beckett ... William J. Hooper
Brett King ... Lt. Teiss
The Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division ... Themselves (as the original 'Screaming Eagles' of the 101st Airborne Division):
Joel Allen ... Transportation Captain (uncredited)
Martha Bamattre ... French Peasant Woman (uncredited)
Richard Bartlett ... Casualty (uncredited)
Nan Boardman ... Belgian Woman Volunteer (uncredited)
Tommy Bond ... Runner (uncredited)
Robert Boon ... German Soldier (uncredited)
Michael Browne ... Levenstein (uncredited)
Norman Budd ... Crying Casualty (uncredited)
George Chandler ... Mess Sergeant (uncredited)
Tony Christian ... German Soldier (uncredited)
Lillian Clayes ... Old Woman (uncredited)
Louise Colombet ... French Peasant Woman (uncredited)
Gene Coogan ... G.I. Scout (uncredited)
Bert Davidson ... 101st Battalion Officer (uncredited)
George Dee ... Frenchman (uncredited)
Jean Del Val ... French Peasant Man (uncredited)
Victor Desny ... Wounded German Soldier (uncredited)
Chris Drake ... Medic Private (uncredited)
Jim Drum ... Supply Sergeant (uncredited)
Gretl Dupont ... French Peasant Woman (uncredited)
John Dutra ... G.I. (uncredited)
Ted Eckelberry ... G.I. (uncredited)
Bill Erwin ... Warrant Officer (uncredited)
Dan Foster ... Gunner (uncredited)
John Gardner ... G.I. (uncredited)
Eugene Gericke ... German Soldier (uncredited)
Edmund Glover ... G.I. from Maine (uncredited)
David Holt ... G.I. Straggler (uncredited)
James Horne ... Transportation Captain (uncredited)
Richard Irving ... G.I. from New York (uncredited)
Samuel Jaegers ... Drill Sergeant (uncredited)
Dickie Jones ... Tanker (uncredited)
Tommy Kelly ... Casualty (uncredited)
Billy Lechner ... Runner (uncredited)
William F. Leicester ... Tank Destroyer Man (uncredited)
Martin Lowell ... G.I. (uncredited)
Ian MacDonald ... Army Colonel (uncredited)
John Mansfield ... Casualty (uncredited)
Dewey Martin ... G.I. Straggler (uncredited)
Jimmy Martin ... G.I. from the South (uncredited)
Roger McGee ... Tanker (uncredited)
Peter Michael ... German Soldier (uncredited)
William Murphy ... Non-Com (uncredited)
John Mylong ... German Major (uncredited)
Tommy Noonan ... G.I. Straggler (uncredited)
George Offerman Jr. ... K Company G.I. (uncredited)
Jerry Paris ... German Sergeant (uncredited)
Victor Paul ... G.I. (uncredited)
Steve Pendleton ... Sergeant (uncredited)
Janine Perreau ... Little Girl (uncredited)
Phillip Pine ... G.I. Non-Com (uncredited)
Albert Pollet ... French Peasant Man (uncredited)
Bob Porter ... G.I. (uncredited)
Otto Reichow ... German Platoon Leader (uncredited)
John R. Reilly ... Tanker Filling Up with Gas (uncredited)
Sammy Resnick ... Non-Com (uncredited)
Jon Riffel ... 'Kipp' Kipton (uncredited)
Henry Rowland ... German NCO (uncredited)
John Royce ... German Soldier (uncredited)
Edmon Ryan ... Major (uncredited)
Carl Saxe ... 101st Battalion Officer (uncredited)
Nelson Scott ... G.I. (uncredited)
Irene Seidner ... French Peasant Woman (uncredited)
William Self ... K Company G.I. (uncredited)
Charles Smith ... Walking Wounded (uncredited)
Ivan Triesault ... German Captain (uncredited)
Max Trujillo ... GI (uncredited)
Roland Varno ... German Lieutenant (uncredited)
Tommy Walker ... Mechanic (uncredited)
Arthur Walsh ... G.I. (uncredited)
Frank Whitbeck ... Trailer Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Ward Wood ... Replacement (uncredited)
Fred Zendar ... German Soldier (uncredited)
Robert Pirosh (story and screenplay)
Robert Pirosh .... associate producer
Dore Schary .... producer
Lennie Hayton (musical score)
Paul Vogel (director of photography) (as Paul C. Vogel)
Screenwriter Robert Pirosh based this story on his experiences as an infantryman during the Battle of the Bulge. Pirosh did not serve with the 101st Airborne and wanted to create a script that was faithful to their experiences. He used his fist hand knowledge of the battle of write the script. This was done with the blessing of General McAuliffe, who was commanding the 101st during Bastogne. Consequently many of the incidents in the film - such as Pvt. Kippton's habit of always losing his false teeth, or the Mexican soldier from Los Angeles who had never seen snow until he got to Belgium - that have always been derided as "typical Hollywood phony baloney" actually happened.
Douglas Fowley, who plays Pvt. Kippton (he of the continually lost false teeth) served in the Navy in the South Pacific in World War II and lost all his own teeth in an explosion aboard his aircraft carrier during battle.
James Whitmore took over the role of Sgt. Kinnie after James Mitchell was fired for moving too much like a dancer and not enough like a drill sergeant.
20 veterans of the 101st Airborne who fought in the Bastogne area were hired to train the actors and were also used as extras.
Producer Dore Schary had been recruited to rejoin MGM following his successful run at RKO. This was one of the projects (and one that RKO boss Howard Hughes had rejected) that Schary insisted on making as part of his employment at MGM, over the protestations of MGM head Louis B. Mayer who believed that movie audiences had had their fill of war in general and war films in particular. Schary got his way. The movie was such a box office hit that within months he was elected to the board at MGM and MGM-parent Loew's Inc. chief Nick Schenck would fire Mayer by the summer of 1951.
The white "card suit" stencils on the sides of the soldier's helmets in the film are accurate. The WWII 101st Airborne Division used the different suits to identify their three parachute infantry (diamonds, hearts, and spades) and one glider infantry (clubs) regiments. A white "tic" at either the twelve, three, six or nine o'clock positions around the suit indicated Headquarters, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Battalions, respectively. The soldiers in "Battleground" wear the club suit of the 101st's 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, with a "tic" at the nine o'clock position, indicating they belong to that regiment's 3rd Battalion.
In an interview released shortly after the film came out James Whitmore said that he based his appearance and his attitude partly on Bill Mauldin's famous "Willie and Joe" cartoons that appeared in the "Stars and Stripes" newspaper, popular with servicemen during WW2.
James Whitmore, who played the hardened Sgt. Kennie, served in the Marine Corps. during World War II.
James Arness, who has a minor role as division member Garby, served in World War II and is the most decorated of the actors in the film. He received the Bronze Star; the Purple Heart; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze campaign stars; the World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge for his service.
As mentioned on the DVD sleeve notes,after the battle depicted in this movie, the division's soldiers became known as "the battered bastards of Bastogne".
This movie's dedication states that it is, "dedicated to the battered bastards of Bastogne".
According to the book 'The MGM Story' by John Douglas Eames, "Battleground was a remarkable case of MGM history repeating itself. When Thalberg planned to make "The Big Parade" Mayer said no one wanted a war drama in 1925. Now Schary, the 'new Thalberg', had brought a pet project over from RKO, where Howard Hughes had vetoed it, and Mayer said no one wanted a war drama in 1949."
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on February 12, 1951 with Van Johnson and John Hodiak reprising their film roles.
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 7, 1954 with Van Johnson and George Murphy reprising their film roles.
The American small units - companies and platoons - depicted did not actually exist. The glider infantry regiment assigned to the 101st Airborne Division was the 327th. When these glider infantry regiments were constituted in the early part of World War II, they had only two battalions. There was no third battalion in the regiment at the time of the battle of Bastogne. Instead, the first battalion of the 401st Glider Infantry Regiment was detailed to the command of the 327th. This meant that the glider infantry component of the 101st Airborne Division at this time had no "Item," "King," "Love," or "Mike" companies - the companies mentioned in this movie. This was done cleverly to avoid having any veterans of the 101st come forward to say something like: "I was in Item Company at Bastogne, and no such thing ever happened to us."
According to producer Armand Deutsch in "Me and Bogie," Robert Taylor was originally assigned to the lead role but was unhappy because at this point in his career he wanted a personal starring vehicle. Deutsch let him see the script for "Ambush," and Taylor wanted to do it. After much wrangling with Dore Schary, Taylor finally got to do the forgettable Western.
Revealing mistakes: Near the end of the film, when the C-47s are paradropping supplies to the soldiers, one of the stock footage pieces is of paratroopers jumping from planes, not supplies being dropped.
Continuity: Holley hears Denise and Jarvess talking on the other side of the living room door and rushes into the corridor with a full cup of coffee. He takes one small sip and puts the now empty cup in his pocket.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs: At the beginning of the movie Holley (Van Johnson) enters the tent wearing a class A uniform. Although currently worn above the ribbon rack, at the time the film takes place, the Combat Infantryman Badge was worn on the left breast pocket, below the ribbons.
Revealing mistakes: When the soldiers are reading "Strategic Withdrawal in Bulge", the headline below clearly reads, "Hilter Counter Offensive..."
Revealing mistakes: When the Colonel leaves the meeting with the German officers, discussing the surrender demand, the jeep he is in takes off without a driver at the wheel.
Fort Lewis, Washington, USA
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