Jeri’s been discussing Patton. Because of a congenital defect I don’t really rate performances as the most important aspect of a film, but Patton is one of those cases where the performance undeniably “is” the movie because the character is just so compelling. I’m trying to think of another film so dominated by a single presence. Brando in Streetcar? (Curiously both performances were supported by the ever reliable Karl Malden — the John C. Reilly of the previous generation.)
Regardless, I would assume, of whether one is personally dovish or hawkish, George C. Scott’s General Patton is eminently likeable, not because he is sympathetic in the everyman sort of way (far from it), but because he is larger than life. He’s not so much an eccentric as simply a personality for the ages.
But the central performance isn’t the movie’s sole virtue. When I saw it for the second time a few years ago I was surprised by how well it held up as a film in its own right, and Jeri’s observations confirm that impression of mine (I reflexively doubt any opinion I formed more than three years ago).
I’ve always thought it a little strange that Patton came several years after Dr. Strangelove since GCS’s General Turgidson almost seems an ironic send up of his Patton role. Therefore it’s doubly impressive that, having done the satrical version of the type, Scott was able to invest Patton with so much empathy without falling into parody.