Original Souvenir Booklet         

         

                                       

BULGING WITH ERRORS

The most damning publicity for Battle of the Bulge came from Dwight Eisenhower, who attacked the picture for its flagrant inaccuracies. Among his objections: the movies narrator (William Conrad) states that Montgomery was in command of the British 8th Army at about the time of the battle, when in fact the 8th Army, under another generals leadership, was in Italy, no where near Ardennes, Belgium, the site of the 44 day-long clash; that the movie fabricates about a strategic U.S. fuel dump having played a part in defeating the Germans; that no German infiltrators actually ever managed to do anything more than briefly worry the Allies; and that the German Tiger tanks depicted in the movie werent German at all but American tanks that had been previously used in the Korean War. Eisenhower no doubt noted that the real battle took place in foresty environs, not fields devoid of greenery, during one of the coldest European winters on record. And he probably booed the chestnut characterizations of both American and German officers by the actors. The movie never implicates the real culprit—Hitlers maniacal war-planning—for the following losses: 120,00 Germans killed, wounded, or labeled missing, with over 600 tanks, 1600 planes and 6,000 other vehicles destroyed; on the American side, 8,000 were killed, 48,000 wounded, 21,000 captured or missing, 733 tanks and tank destroyers lost. We might want to blame director Ken Annakin for the messed up facts, but someone else is more likely responsible—screenwriter Philip Yordan, who career-wise never did understand that factuality is often more persuasively dramatic than concoction. (Hes aided and abetted by John Melson and Milton Sperling.) Audiences know the movie is in trouble right away, even if they arent aware yet of the errors to come: Henry Fonda is taking what amounts to a joy ride in a small plane passing over the moving vehicle of German commander Robert Shaw. Insisting on taking a picture of him, Fonda demands the pilot repeatedly fly over Shaw and when we get to see the photos perspective a little later, we know it would have been impossible for Fonda to have taken it from the air. And we sense the movie will be a cheat: many of the shots of Fonda and Shaw are so obviously studio-processed that we begin to laugh—a fatal kind of laugh for an Ultra-Panavision 70 roadshow. (Making the exposure of the shoddy worse is that it was projected via seamless .) Nothing about the action is convincing; everything about the acting is dishonorably discharged. With Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews, Ty Hardin, Pier Angeli, Charles Bronson, James MacArthur, Telly Savalas and George Montgomery. Jack Hildyard is listed as chief cinematographer, but there isnt a single shot confirming it. Original length 167 minutes; other versions run considerably shorter.

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Text COPYRIGHT © 2002 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.