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Battleground

Battleground(1949)

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Battleground - NOT AVAILABLE

Crying Boy

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NOTES

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The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "This story is about, and dedicated to, those Americans who met General Heinrich von Luttwitz and his 47 Panzer Corps and won for themselves the honored and immortal name 'The Battered Bastards of Bastogne.'" Robert Pirosh's credit appears onscreen as "Story and screenplay by Robert Pirosh, Associate Producer." The film is based, in part, on actual events that took place in the Ardennes Forest in December of 1944. The Nazi counterattack and the overwhelming Allied resistance with which it was met is commonly referred to as the "Battle of the Bulge." According to the onscreen credits, members of one of the original resistance forces, the "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne Division, appear in the film. Lt. Col. Harry W. O. Kinnard, the technical advisor on this film, served as a World War II intelligence officer at the Battle of The Bulge, according to a March 1949 Daily Variety news item. An August 1948 Hollywood Reporter news item indicates that former RKO production head Dore Schary purchased the rights to the Battleground script from RKO following his move to M-G-M. According to the news item, the film, which was one of several projects at RKO that were shelved when Schary resigned, was to have been made by Jesse Lasky and Walter MacEwan. The news item also noted that RKO had already invested approximately $100,000 in the film before it was shelved.
       In October 1948, following M-G-M's acquisition of the property, a Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Robert Taylor, Van Johnson John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban and Keenan Wynn were set to star, and that the picture was given a $2,000,000 budget. An October 1948 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Pandro S. Berman was set to produce the film, but his contribution to the released film has not been determined. A Hollywood Reporter production chart lists actor Jim Mitchell in the cast, but he did not appear in the released film. A pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter noted that half of the picture was to be filmed in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. A May 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item adds that Fort Lewis, WA served as the background for the tank sequence depicting the relief of Bastogne. According to a May 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item, Schary instituted a system of dubbing and cutting during production which made it possible to preview the film within forty-eight hours of the scenes being filmed. Each day's film was processed as it was shot, reducing the average time between completion and preview by several weeks.
       Schary completed the film twenty days under its original shooting schedule by instituting several other innovations. He also ordered twenty-five sets built on one sound stage, and then had art director Hans Peters map out in detail the terrain, action and possible camera angles. Copies of these drawings were then given to director William Wellman and cinematographer Paul Vogel. Some of the sets were used several times over as the film's actions shifted, according to a June 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item.
       Battleground marked the first film in which actor Herbert Anderson was billed as "Guy Anderson." After several years, Anderson returned to the used of the name "Herbert."
       The Washington, D.C. premiere was attended by Brig. Gen. A. C. McAuliffe, the defender of Bastogne, according to an October 1949 Daily Variety news item. Robert Pirosh, who himself fought in the Battle of the Bulge, received an Academy Award for Best Story and Screenplay, and Paul C. Vogel received an Academy Award in the category of Best Black-and-White Cinematography. The film also received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (James Whitmore); and Best Editing. Battleground was listed as the Best Picture of the Year by Photoplay. According to a Daily Variety news item, the film took in $3,750,000 at the box office and was M-G-M's largest grossing film in five years. In 1951, Van Johnson starred in M-G-M's follow-up film to this picture, entitled Go for Broke, which was written and directed by Robert Pirosh.