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gundolf

The epic Bulge movie that never was

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I found this on IMDB. Very interesting...Columbia Pictures was all set to make a historically accurate major production of the Bulge, but Warner Bros beat them to registration with their abomination so Columbia scrapped the project. Would have been interesting if Columbia would have went ahead with this. 

An article dated December 2, 1965, and circulated by The Washington Post, said thatDwight D. Eisenhower was "outraged" by this Warner Brothers movie. It said that Columbia Pictures had long had an epic movie in the works about the battle that had the cooperation of the Defense Department, as well as many of the generals who had been involved, including Eisenhower and Bernard L. Montgomery. The working title of Columbia's movie was "16th of December:The Battle of the Bulge." Michael Andersonwas slated to direct from a screenplay written by Byron Morgan and Tony Lazzarino, and the project was to be co-produced by Lazzorino and Kenneth T. Hoeck. The former president's son John S.D. Eisenhower was writing a companion history of the battle and serving as technical advisor. Anderson was quoted as hoping to have Van Heflin as Eisenhower, David Niven as Montgomery, John Wayne as Gen. George S. Patton andLaurence Olivier as Adolf Hitler. Shortly after Columbia announced that filming would begin during the winter of 1964, Warner Brothers registered the title "The Battle of the Bulge" and announced that it was going to make its own fictional movie, upsetting the plans for Columbia's epic. Columbia obtained an injunction against Warners, dropping it after Warners agreed that its picture would not use the names of any of the real-life figures that had contributed to Columbia's project, such as Eisenhower, Montgomery,Omar Bradley, Anthony McAuliffe, Patton and 10 other figures. The Defense Department had also urged a Federal Trade Commission action against the movie on the grounds that its title was misleading the public. When the article appeared it stated that Columbia's project would go forward, with filming to begin at Camp Drum near Watertown, NY, in the fall of 1966, but the project fell through and the film was never made.

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gundolf,

Very interesting indeed--on a bunch of counts. But now that I know this...how do I go on living? What a spectacular film we could've had but for a d*&n title registration by Warner Bros.!

Regards,

John Kettler

 

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The best part I can recall of the craptacular Bulge movie was the "Panzer Lied" singing scene, particularly when the CO jumped on noncom and made him sing. The worst was probably Telly Savalas and his almost no turret tank. I loved "The Longest Day," and I thought "A Bridge Too Far" was well worth watching. It also turns out someone has put up the individual theme pieces on YT. For CMFB, I think "Human Roadblock" is also an excellent title for what the Americans went through during the Battle of the Bulge. 

I LOVE the Bailey Bridge scene, but this one doesn't have that great bit where the American calls it something like "that British piece of junk," to which the British guy replies to the effect of "You mean that English engineering marvel, which is the envy of civilized nations throughout the world?"

Regards,

John Kettler

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Yes, the Bulge movie was quite possibly the worst WWII movie ever made. And unfortunately there aren't any really good Bulge movies. The only ones that come to mind are Battleground, A Midnight Clear (good movie but fictional), and that one based on that game (which I can't even remember the name). Band of Brothers is really the only non-fictional decent representation of any Bulge action.

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17 hours ago, gundolf said:

..... Columbia obtained an injunction against Warners, dropping it after Warners agreed that its picture would not use the names of any of the real-life figures that had contributed to Columbia's project, 

 When the article appeared it stated that Columbia's project would go forward, with filming to begin at Camp Drum near Watertown, NY, in the fall of 1966, but the project fell through and the film was never made.

That explains it, I often wondered why all the characters were fictionalized. Fort Drum in the winter would have made for a better environment than the Arid location the where that movie took place. 

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13 hours ago, The Steppenwulf said:

We should add The Bridge at Remagen to that list of reasonable (watchable) productions. Not set in the Ardennes exactly, but near enough, and close to the time frame than the others.

well, it's not in the time fame either, so I didn't include it. HBO did a decent movie about the Hurtgen forest called When Trumpets Fade but I didn't include it either because it wasn't technically a bulge movie.

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Agreed, I thought Battleground was a good film,  especially considering it was made in the 40's.

the Bulge movie was quite possibly the worst WWII movie ever made

There have been many terrible WW2 films, and that's one of them. I might have to go with The Enemy Below myself.

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The bulge sucked. For modern suckiness and biggest letdown ever i elect Enemy At The Gates. Hollywood romance schlock.  Countless errors, to the point the beginning of the movie shows a full scale city battle happening by the end you dont even hear background shelling and gunfire. Also the sniper duel at the end. Yeah cuz snipers were known to get up and fire from the shoulder whilst standing in the open. Standing in the open? In Stalingrad? Suicide you say! Not in Enemy at the Gates..

Its a shame the novel it was based on was a fun read.

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3 hours ago, Sublime said:

The bulge sucked. For modern suckiness and biggest letdown ever i elect Enemy At The Gates. Hollywood romance schlock.  Countless errors, to the point the beginning of the movie shows a full scale city battle happening by the end you dont even hear background shelling and gunfire. Also the sniper duel at the end. Yeah cuz snipers were known to get up and fire from the shoulder whilst standing in the open. Standing in the open? In Stalingrad? Suicide you say! Not in Enemy at the Gates..

Its a shame the novel it was based on was a fun read.

While I'm definitely a big Enemy at the Gates hater, I think Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor would give it a run for its money! With Enemy at the Gates, I can at least watch it while griping about everything it gets wrong, and how un-Russian all the Russians in it are, etc. With Pearl Harbor, I can only groan at how awful everything about it is!
And U-571 is another movie that deserves to be in the same category.

It's a shame that historical war movies aren't really made anymore. Bulge sorely needs one.

 

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Oh jeez i forgot abt those two. Yes for one the laughable idea of the US fighter ace going from Eagle Squadron to US fighter pilot that fast is ridiculous.

The whole Pearl Harbor movie is just. Sad. I mean seriously it makes the late 80s early 90s Memphis Belle looks like a documentary film.

U571 I hate because its a film that really badly does what the whole world hates Americans doing - making ww2 seem like a US only show.  For better or for worse the Bletchly Park crew werr more important and also so was the IIRC Royal Navy capture of an enigma before the US incident.  The Battle of the Atlantic was and is probably one of the best and longest running examples of Brit US cooperation in WW2 and it wouldnt have happened as it did at all without either nation. To try to tell the tale in the fashion U571 did is almost insulting.

Just as insulting I find many hollywood movies make the German troops look moronic and goon like. I feel this actually takes away frm the achievement of our armed forces in overcoming the German war machine which inflicted more casualties (substantially) on the US than the Japanese. The USAAF alone suffered more dead than the Marine Corps did for the entire war.

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7 hours ago, Sublime said:

Its a shame the novel it was based on was a fun read.

As far as I know "Enemy at the Gates" was not based on a novel, but on a "non-fiction" historical work of the same name by William Craig.  "Non-fiction" because many have criticized the whole sniper duel subject as fiction...

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26 minutes ago, 76mm said:

As far as I know "Enemy at the Gates" was not based on a novel, but on a "non-fiction" historical work of the same name by William Craig.  "Non-fiction" because many have criticized the whole sniper duel subject as fiction...

yes the movie is loosely based on facts, even the plot about the Germans bringing an elite sniper to take on the Russian snipers. There were apparently articles about that in 1942. Some sources say it is propaganda, some sources say it is true.

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so I dusted off my copy of Craig's "Enemy at the Gates" which I think is one of the first OstFront book I ever bought. The Zaitsev-Major Konings sniper duel is related on pages 127-130.

Vassili Zaitsev, the character played by jude law, was a real figure with 242 confirmed kills. He was well known during the battle since Soviet media publicized his kills. According to Craig, the Germans sent in a ringer, Major Konings, specifically to kill Zaitsev. Konings had studied all he could on Zaitsev. Zaitsev was  warned by Soviet intelligence officers, but took no special precautions, Then in short order, two top Soviet snipers were killed. Figuring Konings was responsible, Zaitsev went on the hunt for several days, trying to find spots where he would hide. He finally found a spot where he thought Konings was hiding, spent most of the day maneuvering into a good firing position, had another soldier raise a helmet as a target and when Konings fired and revealed himself, shot him dead.

This all taken from Zaitsev's autobiography. A good story, but there are doubts it is true. According to other sources I have read in the past, this was all made up by Soviet propagandists after the war and there never was a "Major Konings". According to other sources, "Major Konings" was a composite of several German snipers killed by Zaitsev. According to another article I had read in the past, the Germans did want to kill Zaitsev to score a propaganda victory and did send in one of their top snipers to find him, but he was never able to track Zaitsev and eventually went home.

So elements of the story are true, but they have been spun along the way to turn into a more interesting yarn. :)

Edited by Sgt Joch

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On ‎4‎/‎20‎/‎2016 at 6:39 PM, jtsjc1 said:

Battleground is actually an excellent movie. The best Hollywood production of the battle.

A big +1.

"Battleground" is approaching its 70th birthday and still stands as the best Bulge movie and one of the best and most accurate depictions of the American GI.  It really does emphasize the heroism of the ordinary GI and does so with little sentimentality or flag-waving.  It also thankfully contains none of the petty backbiting, slander, and elitism that mars "Band of Brothers" which aped entire scenes from "Battleground" for its Bulge episodes.

Why "Battleground" still stands tall as one of the great WW2 films is not too hard to figure-out- it was written, directed, and acted by a cast and crew filled with military veterans.  Its director, William Wellman, had flown with the Lafayette Escadrille in WWI.  Its writer, Robert Pirosh, had been a master sergeant with the 35th Infantry Division and saw action in the Bugle.  Its cast is filled with WW2 vets: Jerome Courtland, Don Taylor, James Whitmore, Douglas Fowley, Richard Jaekel, and James Arness who was severely wounded at Anzio.  Its technical advisor was H.W.O Kinnard - the 101st Airborne's operations officer at Bastogne.  And even its extras were Screaming Eagle veterans of the battle.  (In contrast, "Band of Brothers" was acted, written, and directed by men with little or no military experience, let alone combat experience.  It certainly shows.)

 

A couple more Bulge movies:

2003's "Saints and Soldiers"- a low-budget independent film with a shaky grasp of Bugle history, but earnest and well-acted.

1956's "Attack"- a terrific but low budget film based on a stage-play about an American infantry company with a problem- its commander is a cowardly incompetent who is completely unfit for command.  Although not specifically a Bulge movie, it does take place during a German counter-offensive in late 1944.  Great cast!  Eddie Albert and Lee Marvin were both decorated combat vets.  And Jack Palance, another vet, is terrific as a platoon commander who has had enough of his commander's bungling.

 

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