Jan 3, 2008

Movie Review 

It's been quite some time since I've done a film review (in fact, I think my last one may have been before I went on float... that's TWO YEARS ago... jeez...). But today, I saw "Battleground" on Cinemax. It was one of my favorite old movies when I was a kid. I always used to watch it on Veteran's Day, but it's been hard to find in recent years. A great film about the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, it had some pretty big names in 1949 (Van Johnson, James Whitmore) and some others who would gain fame later (Richard Jaeckel, Ricardo Montalban).

It incorporates most every World War II movie cliche ever, but there's plenty of fact in this fiction. Most of the cliches stem from reality, as the screenwriter - Robert Pirosh - took many of his own experiences from the Battle of the Bulge (though not in the 101st) and put them into the script.

This is not a full blown movie review, however. Suffice it to say, I gave the film 8/10 on IMDB. What I really wanted to do was bring up a scene featuring Leon Ames as the Chaplain. Naturally, it wasn't on YouTube for me to post, and I'm not tech savy enough (yet) to drag something off my DVR onto the computer. But here it is - as transcribed by me - as important and relevant now as it was then.
The Chaplain: Anybody here from Ohio?
Soldiers: Hawkeye Lake, sir. Cincinnati, sir. Mayfield Heights, sir. Tippecanoe City, sir.
The Chaplain: I'm from Chillicothe. Any of you men Lutherans?
Soldiers: Here, sir. Here, sir. I am, sir. My wife is, sir. (laughter)
The Chaplain: So am I. But these services aren't just for Lutherans any more than they're just for men from Ohio. I merely happened to be in your area. In other areas there are other chaplains of various denominations and religions. All of us Holy Joes are switch hitters. Earlier this month in Holland I held Hanukkah services for some of the men of the Jewish faith. How'd I do Levenstein?
Levenstein: Not bad for a beginner, sir!

The Chaplain: Well, now it's nearly Christmas. And here we are in beautiful Bastogne enjoying the winter sports. And the sixty-four dollar question is: Was this trip necessary? I'll try to answer that. But my sermons, like everything else in the Army depend on the situation and the terrain, so I assure you this is gonna be a quicky.

Was this trip necessary? Well, let's look at the facts. Nobody wanted this war but the Nazis. A great many people tried to deal with them - and a lot of them are dead. Millions have died, for no other reason except that the Nazis wanted them dead. So in the final showdown, there was nothing left to do except fight. There's a great lesson in this. And those of us who've learned it the hard way aren't going to forget it.

We must never again let any force dedicated to a super race, or a super idea, or a super anything become strong enough to impose itself upon a free world. We must be smart enough and tough enough in the beginning to put out the fire before it starts spreading.

So, my answer to the sixty-four dollar question is: yes, this trip was necessary. As the years go by, a lot of people are gonna forget. But you won't. And don't ever let anybody tell you you were a sucker to fight in the war against fascism. And now, Jerry permitting, let us pray...
Though the enemy has changed, the enemy is the same.
"Battleground" still shows up on TV and can be easily found on Amazon for $12 or less.

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