I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.
I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy.
Through the travail of ages, Midst the pomp and toils of war, Have I fought and strove and perished Countless times upon a star.
I thought I would stand up here and let you people see if I am as big of a son-of-a-bitch as some of you think I am.
There's absolutely no reason for us to assume the Germans are mounting a major offensive. The weather is awful, Their supplies are low, and the German army hasn't mounted a winter offensive since the time of Frederick the Great — therefore I believe that's exactly what they're going to do.
For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph — a tumultuous parade. … A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning — that all glory is fleeting.
[addressing the troops]I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country. Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans, traditionally, love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooters, the fastest runners, big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now, we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God I, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against, by God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards; we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel. Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill theirblood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do. Now there's another thing I want you to remember: I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose. Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home. And you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you: "What did you do in the great World War II?" You won't have to say, "Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana." All right, now, you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel. Oh... I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That's all.
[to Omar Bradley while visiting the ruins of Carthage] It was here. The battlefield was here. The Carthaginians defending the city were attacked by three Roman Legions. The Carthaginians were proud and brave but they couldn't hold. They were massacred. The Arab women stripped them of the tunics and swords and lances. And the soldiers lay naked in the sun. Two-thousand years ago. I was here. You don't believe me, do you, Brad? You know what the poet said:
Through the travail of ages, Midst the pomp and toils of war, Have I fought and strove and perished Countless times upon a star. As if through a glass, and darkly The age-old strife I see — Where I fought in many guises, many names — but always me.
Do you know who the poet was? Me.
[seeing his troops rout General Erwin Rommel's 21st Panzer Division at El Guettar]Rommel... you magnificent bastard, I read your book!
[writing about the death of his favorite aide, Captain Richard N. "Dick" Jenson, at the Battle of El Guettar] Captain Richard N. Jenson was a fine boy. Loyal, unselfish, and efficient. I am terribly sorry. There are no coffins here since there's no wood. We will have a trumpeter and an honor guard, but we will not fire the volleys, as it would make people think an air raid was on. I enclosed a lock of Dick's hair in a letter to his mother. He was a fine man and a fine officer. And he had no vices. I shall miss him a lot. I can't see the reason such fine young men get killed. There are so many battles yet to fight.
[reciting Psalms 63 in a church after slapping a soldier] O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee. My soul thirsteth for Thee. My flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land.… So as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary.… My soul followeth hard after Thee. … But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. … They shall fall by the sword, they shall be apportioned for foxes. … But the king shall rejoice in God. Everyone that sweareth by Him shall glory. But the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.
[addressing 7th Army troops in an apology about the soldier-slapping incident] At ease.[Long pause]I thought I would stand up here and let you people see if I am as big of a son-of-a-bitch as some of you think I am.[Troops laugh] I assure you I had no intention of being either harsh or cruel in my treatment of the soldier in question. My sole purpose was to try and to restore him some appreciation of his obligation as a man, and as a soldier. If one can shame a coward, I felt, one might help him regain his self-respect. This was on my mind. Now I freely admit that my method was wrong, but I hope you can understand my motive, and will accept this explanation, and this apology. Dismissed.
[ranting about being assigned to lead the First United States Army GroupI feel I am destined to achieve some great thing — what, I don't know. But this last incident is so trivial in its nature and so terrible in its effect — it can't be the result of an accident. It has to be the work of God. The last great opportunity of a lifetime — an entire world at war and I'm left out of it? God will not permit this to happen! I will be allowed to fulfill my destiny! … His will be done.
[to staff, noting the obvious lack of German activity as winter sets in] There's absolutely no reason for us to assume the Germans are mounting a major offensive. The weather is awful, Their supplies are low, and the German army hasn't mounted a winter offensive since the time of Frederick the Great — therefore I believe that's exactly what they're going to do.
[voiceover in the wake of his relief from Third Army] For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph — a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning — that all glory is fleeting.
Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man.
[General Patton tours a tent and sees a shell-shocked soldier]
Patton: What's the matter with you?
Bennet: I, I guess I just can't take it sir.
Patton: What did you say?
Bennet: It's my nerves sir. I, I, I just can't stand the shelling anymore. [starts sobbing]
Patton: Your nerves? Why, hell, you are just a goddamned coward. [stands and slaps Bennet's helmet with his gloves] Shut up. I won't have a yellow bastard sitting here crying, in front of these brave men who have been wounded in battle. [Bennet continues to sob] SHUT UP! [strikes the man again, knocking his helmet liner off; he turns to the admitting officer and yells] Don't admit this yellow bastard. There's nothing wrong with him! I won't have sons-of-bitches who are afraid to fight stinking up this place of honor! [Turns back to Bennet] You're going back to the front, my friend. You may get shot and you may get killed, but you're going up to the fighting. Either that or I stand you up in front of a firing squad. I [grabs for his pistol] ought to shoot you myself, you goddamned little whimpering bastard! Get him out of here! [two orderlies grab Bennet and take him out of tent.] Send him up to the front! You hear me! You GODDAMN COWARD! [starts walking out of the tent] I won't have cowards in my army.
Bradley: You wanted to see me, George?
Patton: Got a letter here from Ike. [hands letter to Bradley] I, ah, was re-reading Caesar's Commentaries last night. In battle Caesar wore a red robe to distinguish him from his men. I, ah, was struck by that fact, because... [pause] "Despicable" — that's the first time in my life anyone ever applied that word to me.
Bradley: Well, ah, at least it's a personal reprimand. It's not official.
Patton: The man was yellow, he should have been tried for cowardice and shot. My God, have they forgotten about all of the people who have taken a hell of a lot worse than a little kick in the pants? I ruffled his pride a little bit. What's that compared to war? Two weeks ago when we took Palermo they called me a hero, said I was the greatest general since Stonewall Jackson.
Bradley: And now they draw cartoons about you. [Bradley looks at newspaper cartoon]
Patton: Dirty bastard. They got me holding a little G.I. there and kicking him with an iron boot. Do you see that? What's on my boot? A swastika. On my boot. An iron boot with a swastika on it! [Throws newspaper down in anger, picks up the letter a reads a portion of it] "You will apologize to the soldier you slapped. To all doctors and nurses who were present in the tent at the time. To every patient in the tent who can be reached. And last but not least, to the Seventh Army as a whole, through individual units one at a time." God, I feel low.
[on having his operations delayed, in favor of advances by Field Marshall Montgomery]
Patton: If you won't let me kill the enemy, why did you pick me to command?
Bradley: I didn't pick you! Ike picked you. George, you have reformed brilliantly. You are loyal, dedicated — you're one of the best field commanders I've got — but you don't know when to shut up, George! You’re a pain in the neck.
Patton: I have a lot of faults Brad, but ingratitude isn't one of them. I owe you a lot. Hell, I know I'm a prima donna — I admit it! What I can't stand about Monty is he won't admit it.
[hearing the objections to a plan to swing three Third Army divisions north to Bastogne to relieve the surrounded 101st Airborne]
Patton: I trained these men. They'll do what I tell them to do.
British officer: Perhaps we hadn't realized you were quite so popular with your troops, General.
Patton: I'm not. They'll do it because they're good soldiers. And because they realize like I do, that we could still lose this war.
British officer: Well, I think I can speak for Field Marshall Montgomery — he'd say you're asking the impossible of your men.
Patton: Of course he would. Because he's never realized that's what we're in business for.
Colonel Gaston Bell: General McAuliffe refused a German surrender demand. You know what he said?
Patton: [laughing] Keep them moving, Colonel. A man that eloquent has to be saved.
[during a Soviet-American celebration after the fall of Berlin]
Russian Translator: The general would like to know if you will drink a toast with him.
Patton: Thank the general, and tell him that I have no desire to drink with him, or any other Russian son of a bitch.
Russian Translator: [aghast] I can't tell him that!
Patton: Tell him, every word.
Russian Translator: [nervously, in Russian] He says he will not drink with you, or any other Russian son of a bitch.
Russian General: [angrily, in Russian] Tell him he is a son of a bitch, too! Now!
Russian Translator: [nervously] He says, he thinks you are a son of a bitch, too!
Patton: [laughing] All right, all right. Tell him I'll drink to that. One son of a bitch to another!
The most refreshing thing about "Patton" is that here — I think for the first time — the subject matter and the style of the epic war movie are perfectly matched. War was, for Patton, his destiny and sometimes great fun. Thus the big, magnificently staged battle scenes (photographed in marvelous, clear, deep focus), are not giving the lie to a film that, like "The Longest Day," would have us believe piously that war is hell. … Although the cast is large, the only performance of note is that of Scott, who is continuously entertaining and, occasionally, very appealing. He dominates the film, even its ambiguities, although he never quite convinced me that Patton, by any stretch of the imagination, could be called a rebel against anything except the good, gray, dull forces of bleeding heart liberalism.
The epic American war movie that Hollywood has always wanted to make but never had the guts to do before.
Vincent Canby, as quoted in Madison Capital Times (17 July 1970), p. 21
The Bradley name gets heavy billing on a picture of [a] comrade that, while not caricature, is the likeness of a victorious, glory-seeking buffoon … Patton in the flesh was an enigma. He so stays in the film. … Napoleon once said that the art of the general is not strategy but knowing how to mold human nature … Maybe that is all producer Frank McCarthy and Gen. Bradley, his chief advisor, are trying to say.