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Battleground (1949)

4.5 out of 5 stars 228 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Battleground (DVD)

This hard-hitting drama follows a company of war-weary World War II infantrymen trapped behind German lines during the Battle of the Bulge. Homesick and shivering in snow-covered foxholes, the soldiers endure misery, agony and grief with irrepressible humor and dauntless mockery. None intends to be a hero, but each rises to the heroism demanded of him.

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Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, Marshall Thompson
  • Directors: William A. Wellman
  • Writers: Robert Pirosh
  • Producers: Dore Schary
  • Format: Black & White, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007TKNLU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,386 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Battleground (1949)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Of the dozen or so films that use the Battle of the Bulge as a backdrop, BATTLEGROUND stands out as one of the best. Starring Van Johnson and John Hodiac, look for other young and upcoming stars of screen and television tube such as Marshall Thompson, Ricardo Montalban, James Arness and Richard Jaeckel.

The date is December 1944. The place is Bastogne, Belgium. The Germans have just unleashed their last major offensive in the west and the US 101st Airborne is rushed in to stem the tide. The film focuses on one platoon of airborne troopers and their actions outside of Bastogne.

If you thought the Bastogne sets for HBO'S BAND OF BROTHER'S were fantastic, get a glimpse of the equally fantastic sets for BATTLEGROUND. The story is presented from the GI point of view, so there are few opportunities to see the German soldiers up close.

In terms of historical accuracy, BATTLEGROUND was so well researched that even the weather conditions are matched with historical fact -- specifically that it did not start snowing until the 21st of December.

This film was a bit of gamble by MGM in 1949. In the post World War II and pre Korean War years, audiences were generally tired of war films. Additionally, BATTLEGROUND was not a showcase for clean-shaven football hero-type soldiers. The characters in this story are a collection of brave, tired, freezing cold, grimy and hungry soldiers just trying to survive. Apparently the formula worked because the film was nominated for six Oscars and won two (Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography). Captured on black and white film stock, the picture is occasionally intercut with real combat footage.

Alongside films like THE LONGEST DAY, this film is one of the best about GIs during World War Two. There are some old "colorized" versions floating around out there. Try to avoid those in preference for the original high-contrast black and white version.
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Format: VHS Tape
Of all the films to emerge from World War II, "Battleground" best portrays basic survival from an infantryman's perspective. Even the battle scenes illustrate the closed-in battlefield and confusion experienced by the individual G.I. For example, the scene of the pre-dawn attack by German infantry when the American private takes the initiative to fire his M-1 rifle into the darkness at sounds rather than a visible target, thus spurring the other men in his squad to begin firing accurately portrays the confusion and fear oftentimes emminating from the foxhole. Several times in the film, the theme of officers and NCOs removing badges of rank in order to not expose themselves to enemy snipers is not often shown in other films of this genre. Even Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) in "Saving Private Ryan" boldly wore his Captain's bars on his helmet throughout the entire film (as did also his platoon Sergeant wear his stripes on the outside of his combat jacket). The ethnic and social make-up of the squad is another significant theme in the movie. The hillbilly from Appalacia, the Spanish-American from L.A., the intellectual journalist, the city boy, farm hand, or the all-star collegiate quarterback, all accurately displays the "citizen soldier" that traces its American military heritage back to colonial militia of the pre-revolutionary war era. All in all, this movie is not about the "Battered Bastards of Bastogne." Rather, it is about the common G.I. who fought in Europe in WWII. The themes throughout this film could represent any unit in any of the battles the encompassed the struggle in the ETO. It is for these reasons, this film has withstood the test of time and deserves to be called a classic.
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Format: VHS Tape
I remember seeing this movie in classic black and white when I was only seven or eight, and I was impressed by its accurate and poignant portrayal of men in combat then. It wear well, after all these years, for this early star-studded take on the Battle of the Bulge seen through the prism of a platoon of young and inexperienced soldiers still inspires and moves the viewer with an authentic, sincere and gripping look at the reality of men in battle. Van Johnson leads the stellar cast of Hollywood notables trudging through the bleak and battle-torn landscape of wintry France as they dig in for the brutal exchanges with the Wehrmacht in Hitler's final bold gamble to turn the tide of war by counterattacking the Allies with a dozen divisions and 1,400 tanks in the dead of winter. In a battle that served to show the surprised world just how formidable and ferocious the American army could be, the soldiers beat back and defeat the vastly larger, better equipped, and more experienced German attackers.
This is not the typical gung-ho Hollywood take on battle, but is rather a thoughtfully scripted look at the range of emotions and experiences of a group of young men faced with the brutalizing and surreal situation of day-to-day life in combat. The range of emotions and degree of camaraderie shared by the men belies any attempt to oversimplify, and a few scenes in particular bring home to the viewer the stark truths of such an experience. Still, it is a rousing film, and one finds himself cheering quietly as most of the soldiers triumph and survive the experience of exposure to the elements as well as the enemy.
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