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            The 1970 movie Patton written by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. Schaffner stars legendary actor George C. Scott portraying General George S. Patton Jr., America's most flamboyant military commander who was both loved and hated by his own men as well as his superiors. The movie only follows Patton's leadership of the 2nd Corps and the 7th and 3rd Army during World War II and while the viewer is not privy to Patton's entire military career there is more than enough content to get a feel for the multi-faceted man. In watching the film I was particularly struck by the question "Do motion pictures about American history depict what really happened?" After a brief film summary I shall endeavor to answer this question.
             The movie opens with Patton in full dress uniform standing in front of a huge American flag addressing his troops. After that we see Patton arriving at Kasserine to take command of the American 2nd Corps, demoralized after a defeat by the Germans. Patton proceeds to whip the 2nd Corps into shape and win battle after battle. Then Patton was sent to Sicily to command the 7th Army where his rivalry with British General and fellow prima donna Sir Bernard Law Montgomery was further inflamed. After a slapping incident during the Sicily campaign and a stay in "the dog house" Patton was sent to Europe and given command of the American 3rd Army. At the end of the war in Europe Patton looses command of the 3rd Army because of his attitude towards the Russian allies and we see our hero sullenly walking his dog into the sunset.
             Do films about American history depict what actually happened or are they distorted versions of the truth? In relation to the movie Patton I would have to say that all things considered, yes. While certain things in the movie were slightly distorted or fictionalized, such as dialog and some mundane every day occurrences, the entire movie was really quite accurate in its portrayal of what really took place.

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