Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 5


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,725
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Movie Info

Incoming MGM production head Dore Schary ramrodded Battleground into the studio's schedule over the virulent protests of MGM boss Louis Mayer. The result was an award-winning box-office hit, as well as the beginning of the end of Mayer's power. This dramatization of the battles of Bastogne and the Bulge in the waning days of World War II concentrates on a single infantry unit. Van Johnson and John Hodiak are the ostensible stars, but the film is stolen by James Whitmore as the cigar-chomping, battle-stained sergeant. Also appearing is Ian MacDonald as General McAuliffe, whose legendary response to the Nazi's suggestion that the Americans surrender consisted of a single four-letter expletive: "Nuts". Whitmore's final scenes of near-delirium before the relief troops arrive are unforgettable. Battleground tries within MGM limits to be wholly realistic, though it is slightly compromised by the scripters' inability to use Army profanity, and by pointless subplot involving actress Denise Darcel. The film doesn't hold up as well as such wartime efforts as The Story of GI Joe or Walk in the Sun, but in 1949 Battleground was regarded as an important milestone in the field of truthful, de-glamorized combat flicks. Please avoid the colorized version: this is a black-and-white subject if ever there was one.

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Critic Reviews for Battleground

All Critics (5)

Audience Reviews for Battleground

  • May 19, 2012
    An infantry unit fights in the Battle of the Bulge. This is a claustrophobic, character-driven war film that proves that very little in modern-day film is original as there is a lot of <i>Platoon</i> and even a dose of <i>Full Metal Jacket</i> in <i>Battleground's</i> plot construction and character development. The center of the film is the characters who take a while to get to know, but once the film gains momentum in the second act, they become real human beings under extraordinary circumstances who complain about their lack of big picture knowledge of war strategy and each other. Overall, while I didn't like the film's pace and thought the characters took too long to delineate themselves, I can't deny that this is a good, foundational film in the canon of war movies.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Feb 23, 2012
    The good news is that Hooper(Scotty Beckett) and Layton(Marshall Thompson) are two hours away from Paris. The bad news is that there is still a war going on, as leave has just been canceled for Layton's new unit, giving him little time to settle in, just as Holley(Van Johnson) returns from Paris. It is even worse for 'Pop' Stazak(George Murphy) who is on the verge of being discharged for humanitarian reasons. All they know is that they are going someplace cold which is usually something not associated with hell. Their first stop is Bastogne where Denise(Denise Darcel) welcomes them with open arms, with Jarvess(John Hodiak) translating, in return for a year's worth of chocolate and cigarettes. "Battleground" is a rousing tribute to the 'Battered Bastards of Bastogne' of the 101st Airborne Division who with limited supplies and little fresh knowledge of the wider conflict and even which country they are in, know who they are fighting in holding the line. Camaraderie is key as we see the men evolve from happy-go-lucky to battle hardened veterans with Layton earning the right to be called by his name. And despite coming from a very different background, Roderigues(played by a very young Ricardo Montalban) is accepted too, as he takes great enjoyment in his first snow.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 09, 2009
    A war film from the late forties, possibly the first time that World War 2 looked like it wasn?t a fun adventure in a studio film. It was a grim and gritty take on the Battle of the Bulge, this caused a lot of arguments within MGM (Louis B. Mayer, who preferred light pleasant entertainment, hated this project), but it worked out in the end, it was a box office and awards triumph. There is a certain matter of fact quality to the film; it?s just the story of these men trying to do their best in a tense and unpleasant situation. In this sense I think it?s an excellent companion to The Hurt Locker.
    MJS M Super Reviewer
  • May 25, 2009
    A pretty good film about the Battle of the Bulge. Wellman does good with the action and all of the actors do a good job. The problem I had,and it's not this film's fault, was after watching Band Of Brothers all Battle of the Bulge film fail in comparison.This was a great looking film and it won for Best Cinematography, and you can tell that Band Of Brothers was highly influenced by this film. Van Johnson does a really good job in this, but it's not a top tier WWII film.
    cody f Super Reviewer

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