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Battleground (1949)

aka Battleground

"The First Great Picture Of The Second World War !"

Directed By: 
Written By: 
Details: 118 mins · English, Deutsch, French

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Cast:

Small Holley
Small Jarvess
Small Roderigues
Small 'Pop' Stazak
Small Jim Layton
No_movie_poster Abner Spudler
Small Standiferd
No_movie_poster Wolowicz
Small 'Kipp' Kippton
No_movie_poster Denise
Small Bettis
No_movie_poster Hansan
Small The Chaplain
No_movie_poster Abner Spudler
Small Kinnie
No_movie_poster Doc

Crew:

Small William A. Wellman Director
No_movie_poster Robert Pirosh Screenplay
No_movie_poster Dore Schary Production
No_movie_poster Robert Pirosh Other
No_movie_poster Robert Pirosh Story Contributor

Taglines:

"The First Great Picture Of The Second World War !"

"The guts! The girls! The glory! of a lot of wonderful guys!"

Plot:

In mid-December 1944, Jim Layton (Marshall Thompson) and his buddy, William J. Hooper, replacements fresh from the United States, are assigned to separate companies in the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. As a newcomer, Layton receives a chilly welcome. Holley (Van Johnson) returns to the company after recuperating from a wound.

Instead of going on leave in Paris, the squad is trucked back to the front to help stop a surprise German breakthrough in the Ardennes. They stop that night in the town of Bastogne. The platoon is put up for the night in the apartment of a local young woman, Denise (Denise Darcel), with whom Holley hopes to fraternize. The next morning, led by Platoon Sgt. Kinnie (James Whitmore), they are ordered to dig in on the outskirts of town. Just as their positions are nearly prepared, they are moved to a new location and have to dig again.

Holley, Layton, and Kippton (Douglas Fowley) stand guard that night at a roadblock. A patrol of German soldiers, disguised as American G.I.s, infiltrates their position and later blows up a nearby bridge. In the morning, the squad awakes to a heavy winter storm. Roderigues (Ricardo Montalbán), a latino from Los Angeles, is delighted by the novelty of snow, but his foxhole mate Pop Stazak (George Murphy), awaiting a "dependency discharge" that will send him home, is unimpressed. Layton goes over to see his friend Hooper, only to find that he had been killed hours before.

Kinnie informs the squad about the infiltration and sends out a patrol — Holley, Roderigues, and Jarvess (John Hodiak)— to search the woods. Just before they start out, the platoon is shelled by German artillery, causing Bettis (Richard Jaeckel) to panic and run away. During the barrage, Layton informs his squad leader, Sgt. Wolowicz (Bruce Cowling), of his name and finds for the first time that he has been accepted as a part of the squad. Holley's patrol encounters and briefly skirmishes with the infiltrators. Roderigues is wounded by machine-gun fire from an enemy tank. He is unable to walk, so Holley hastily conceals him under a disabled jeep half-buried in snow, promising to return for him. Unfortunately, by the time they can get back to him, Roderigues has frozen to death.

Wolowicz, wounded by shellfire, and a sick Standiferd (Don Taylor) are sent back to a field hospital. Holley becomes the new squad leader, partnered with Layton, while Pop Stazak is paired with Hansan (Herbert Anderson). They find out from a copy of Stars and Stripes that they are making a "heroic stand", and from Kippton that the 101st is surrounded.

Moved again and again, 3rd Platoon is attacked at dawn. Just when it appears they will be overrun, Hansan is wounded, and Holley loses his nerve and runs away. Layton follows Holley. Ashamed of his cowardice in front of the younger man, Holley leads a flanking counterattack that defeats the German attack. Jarvess's partner, Abner Spudler (Jerome Courtland), is killed while trying to put on his wet boots.

The squad runs into Bettis doing K.P. duty in the rear and gets a hot meal. In the brief respite, Holley shows his indifference to the plight of civilian victims, angering Jarvess, who was a newspaper columnist before the war. Holley discovers that Layton is a quick learner, finding him being entertained by Denise. Later, while on guard duty, they encounter a party of Germans who have come under a flag of truce to offer Brig. Gen. McAuliffe terms for surrender; McAuliffe gives the puzzled Germans his famous answer, "Nuts!"

In the bitter, foggy weather, the squad is short of supplies – supply transport aircraft are grounded. Several men attend impromptu outdoor Christmas services held by a chaplain (Leon Ames).

That night, the German Luftwaffe bombs Bastogne. Denise is killed. The "walking wounded", including Hansan, are called back to duty for a last-ditch defense of the town. Bettis, slowed by his fear of going back into the front lines, is killed by a collapsing house shaken by an explosion.

As the squad is down to its last few rounds of ammunition, the weather clears, allowing Allied fighters to attack the Germans and C-47 transports to drop supplies, enabling the 101st to hold. Afterward, the siege lifted, Kinnie leads the survivors of the platoon toward the rear for a well-earned rest. In a particularly moving sequence, as the platoon moves out, it encounters a relief column of clean, well-equipped soldiers marching toward Bastogne. Kinnie begins calling "Jody" cadence and the exhausted and bedraggled veterans pull themselves together, proudly chanting the refrain as they pass the other GIs.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 1949-11-09 : United States of America

Theatrical : 1950-01-20 : United States of America

Theatrical : Austria

Theatrical : 1950-05-05 : Finland

Theatrical : 1951-03-13 : Portugal

Theatrical : 1950-01-26 : France

Theatrical : 1950-04-08 : Spain

Theatrical : 1950-04-24 : Denmark

Theatrical : 1949-12-01 : United States of America

Theatrical : 1950-04-30 : Italy

Theatrical : 1958-04-11 : West Germany

Theatrical : 1949-11-11 : United States of America

Theatrical : 1950-04-27 : Norway

Theatrical : 1950-02-03 : Mexico

Theatrical : 1950-03-09 : Australia

Theatrical : 1950-03-20 : Sweden