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Patton

New this month Factual error: When he is talking with General Bradley at the Carthaginian ruins near the beginning of the film and he recites his re-incarnation poem. If you look very carefully at the sky you will see a jet streaking, from left to right on the screen. Easy to miss but I've replayed it many times. The object is going in a straight line and going way too fast to be an internal combustion engine plane.

Revealing mistake: Several maps of Europe shown in the film have Germany divided into East and West, and show national boarders from 1945 onwards.

Factual error: At the beginning of the movie, Patton is reviewing Morrocan troops during a formal parade. This includes a scene of camel mounted soldiers at attention lined up side by side. These soldiers are armed with the French MAT 49 submachine gun. This weapon was first manufactured in 1949, several years after World War Two had ended.

Factual error: In a scene set in 1944 France, shortly after D-Day, Patton is riding in a very distinctive type of Jeep that first went into production in 1953. Another Jeep in that same scene dates from 1950 onwards.

Other mistake: During the early part of the movie, when Patton is in Morocco, you can see two kids visibly mugging for the camera as they do cutaways on two distinct occasions.

Factual error: Patton arrives at Bradley's mobile HQ just after D-Day. As his jeep pulls up you can see the truck that pulls the HQ trailer. It appears to be a Mack Model "B", which did not enter production until 1953.

Factual error: When Patton is given command of Third Army in France in 1944, he says that the assassination attempt on Hitler took place several days ago. Later on we see Field Marshal Rommel in a German command HQ looking quite healthy. Rommel was actually severely wounded three days prior to the attempt on Hitler and was in the hospital.

Factual error: When Patton orders his driver to drive to the Carthaginian battlefield he addresses him as "sergeant". He is, however, wearing corporal's chevrons. A famous stickler for discipline and ceremonial, Patton is not likely to have made a mistake like this.

Factual error: The British drum major in the Messina parade gives the order "Forward March". This is only used by the British forces when troops are marking time. If at the halt, as here, the order is "Quick March".

Continuity mistake: When the two Jeeps arrive at the Kasserine Pass to survey the results of the battle, the second Jeep comes to stop just short of running over a dead soldier. At the end of the scene, the same Jeep drives away, going forward as if to run over that body, but the body has vanished.

Factual error: During the early portions of the film, General Bradley's Jeep is a proper WWII Willys Jeep Model MB (wipers on top of windshield), but the second Jeep that follows Bradley's is a 1950-1952 Model M38 (wipers below windshield) which won't exist until five years after WWII ends.

Continuity mistake: When the three small boys run up and salute Patton, the middle boy stops with the other two slightly behind him to each side, and is the first to salute. When the camera angle changes to view them from in front, the middle boy is instantly behind the other two, and is the last to salute.

Factual error: In the scene of the high level meeting during the initial stages of the Battle of the Bulge, Bedell Smith is conducting the meeting in General Eisenhower's behalf. In fact, General Eisenhower was present at the meeting.

Factual error: In the washroom scene where Gen. Montogomery is speaking with Gen. Smith; Monty breathes on the mirror in order to make a drawing of Sicily. The condensed "breath" remains far too long, the same happens when Smith makes his drawing on the mirror.

Factual error: Before the Battle of El Gattar, Patton is shown reading a book on tank warfare purportedly written by Field Marshal Rommel, his German opponent. Rommel in fact wrote a book on infantry fighting and tactics based on his experiences in World War I. He never wrote a book on tank combat.

Factual error: Bradley tells Patton that there is trouble in the Ardennes, foreshadowing the Battle of the Bulge. In reality, General Bradley dismissed the German operation as a "spoiling attack." His command was virtually annihilated by the German attack, and Eisenhower transferred the remnants to General Montgomery's 21st Army Group. Bradley was quietly sidelined and given a fourth star as compensation.

Factual error: Despite it being the commonest American tank of the war by far, the only M4 Shermans seen in the film are in archive footage. None are seen in action at all. Most of the American tanks appear to be M47 Pattons, which didn't enter service until 1952.

Factual error: The drum major leading the British pipes and drums into Messina is a corporal wearing the usual two point-down chevrons on his upper arm. British Army drum majors, who all hold a minimum rank of sergeant, wear four point-up chevrons on their lower arm (on a leather strap if in shirt-sleeve order).

Factual error: Montgomery is shown being appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff at about the same time that Patton is relieved of his command in Germany. Montgomery actually became CIGS in 1946, after Patton's death in December 1945.

Factual error: Patton wears two overseas service bars (one awarded for every six months' service outside the USA from 7 December 1941) until he goes to Normandy to take over the Third Army. On the plane over he is suddenly wearing four bars. He would have received his third bar before he arrived in Normandy, and his fourth afterwards.

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Trivia

This film's most remarkable for the ironic choice of vehicles used. All of the German tanks represented in the movie are, in fact, M48 "Patton" tanks borrowed from the Spanish army. This is most likely the first and only time in history a general is unintentionally fighting to destroy his own namesakes!

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