Two more Best Pictures are in the can—Patton (1970) and A Man for All Seasons (1966). And I have just one film left in my quest to watch all #DemBestPictureWinners.
I had just got done backpedaling on my initial feels re: war films (that I’m completely over them) with my post about Wings—an adorable, well-paced silent film with heart-filled performances set in the midst of World War I. Then I had to go and watch Patton. I need to re-backpedal. (Forward pedal? Just a regular ol’ pedal?) If I never see another war movie, it will be too soon. I’d rather watch Spice World again (It was forced on me! I was INNOCENT!) or even a few more Ed Wood films.
The best part? George C. Scott’s performance as General Patton, a role turned down by Rod Steiger, who later admitted that it was the worst decision of his career (ouch). Scott tackled the role with icy command, delivering Patton’s vulgar speeches to his troops with hard-driving gusto. Wikipedia calls (the real) Patton “colorful” but really, he was sort of a dick. But it was Scott’s lead that helped carry this over-extended, nearly three-hour-long war film across the finish line. Whenever Scott wasn’t on screen, my attention waned hard.
Fun fact: Scott refused the nomination for the Academy Award (which he had done in the past), but ended up winning anyways. He was quoted saying, “The whole thing is a goddamn meat parade. I don’t want any part of it.” So I guess they picked the right guy to play Patton, then?
Shortly after I checked out A Man for All Seasons, a tale depicting the final years of Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield) and his refusal to ask the Pope to annul King Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Directed by Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity), the film portrays More’s resolute feelings toward his faith and The Vatican. He not only resigns from his post, but also refuses to take an Oath of Supremacy that would declare Henry VIII the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
Scofield won an Academy Award for his performance and also a BAFTA and Golden Globe, which isn’t too surprising considering he perfected More’s character on stage in London’s West End and also on Broadway. Still, it’s a wonderful performance and one of the many great historical films that actually holds up.
Grades—Patton: C-, A Man for All Seasons: B
So where does this leave my almost-six-year movie watching endeavor? Well, gentle readers, I have one left: Lawrence of Arabia—a 222-minute epic historical drama. A true beast of a film. It’s gonna be a doozy…but it’s the only thing standing in my way of completing the task at hand.
I’m coming for ya, Lawrenceeeeee!