Tuesday, December 04, 2018

“Was This Trip Necessary?” The Sermon in Bastogne, During the Battle of the Bulge, in William “Wild Bill” Wellman’s 1949 Masterpiece, Battleground

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

The “Holy Joe” was played by the ubiquitous Leon Ames, a household name to crossword puzzle aficionados, at least in TV Guide.

The ensemble cast starred Van Johnson, John Hodiak, George Murphy, James Whitmore and a young Ricardo Montalban.

Wellman shot an original screenplay by Robert Pirosh (1910-1989), who before The War was famous for scripting classic Marx Brothers comedies. That would be Master Sergeant Robert Pirosh, one of the “battered bastards of Bastogne,” who wrote the script, inspired by his experiences during the siege. Pirosh’s alter ego in the picture is cigar-chewing, bootless Sgt. Kinnie, a role which earned James Whitmore his first Oscar nomination.

Pirosh won the Oscar for story and screenplay, and would be nominated for another for Go for Broke (1951) (which he also directed), the story of the all-volunteer, all-Japanese-American U.S. Army U.S. 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated American unit in the war, which served in the European Theater of Operations.

Battleground used to be a big deal to American patriots of all ages. Speaking with my friend and partner-in-crime David in TN the other night, when I brought up this scene, he immediately responded, “Was this trip necessary?”

The man has the memory of an elephant.

About 55 years ago, David’s father came into the living room, while David was watching Battleground on TV. His father usually had nothing to do with movies and TV shows about WWII, but he gave his seal of approval to this one: “That’s the way it was.”

Although Robert Pirosh wrote all sorts of pictures and TV shows and movies after the war, he was on a mission to pay honor to the American infantryman.

In 1962, it looked like Pirosh would hit the heights of Hollywood success. He sold the idea for a TV series about a WWII infantry unit fighting its way through France. The show would be called Combat! (1962-1967), and arguably be the greatest dramatic series in the medium’s history.

He also got the triple gig of writing, producing, and directing a WWII infantry picture called Hell is for Heroes.

The picture came out excellent. Unfortunately, however, the producer and director credits went to Don Siegel.

With over 90% of the picture done, a thug laid siege to the production. The thug in question had not served in The War, though he had later somehow been a marine. Pirosh quit, and was replaced by Siegel.

The thug was named Steve McQueen (1930-1980), and he laid siege to another production, The Great Escape, the following year.

Producer-director John Sturges initially stood tall against the thug, but then recalled Bob Pirosh’s fate, and surrendered.

There was a tremendous TV Web site, Jumping the Shark, that had pages for virtually every American TV series ever made prior to say, 2006, with comments by thousands of viewers. (TV Guide paid the Webmaster over $1 million for it, then eliminated all the entries, and turned it into a very expensive re-direct to its gossip page.)

On the Combat! page, one of the commenters said his WWII combat veteran father’s attitude was the same as David’s dad, and had said the show was the real deal.

Let’s return to the point of the sermon.

“Was this trip necessary?”

The chaplain, played by Leon Ames, says,

“We must never again let any force dedicated to a super race or a super idea or super anything become strong enough to impose itself upon a free world. We must be smart enough and tough enough in the beginning to put out the fire before it starts spreading. As the years go by, a lot of people are going to forget, but you won't. And don't ever let anybody tell you, you were a sucker for fighting against fascism.”

I remember. David remembers. Even though we weren’t there.

The men who were, are almost all dead, and most of the few survivors are feeble in body and spirit.

Most Americans today under the age of 60 know nothing about The War. Oh, they have talking points. And the “educated ones” are the worst. They have been raised on communist talking points.

Then there are the young white nationalists and Nazis. They talk just like the character played by Ray Teal in The Best Years of Our Lives, the Nazi who tells combat veterans Fred Derry (an Army Air Corps/Force bombardier) and Homer Parrish, a sailor who’d lost both hands fighting the Japs, that they’d been fighting the wrong people.

The young people today say, “Holohoax,” as if the Holocaust had never happened. They don’t believe their own words. They say them as a solidarity exercise, with their allies, the same way racial socialists spout their talking points.

On the eve of our entry into the war, we had enemies all over the world: Nazis, Communists, Tojoists. But we had no good reason to go to war against anyone.

That the war happened the way it did, was a fluke. Tojo, in an episode of fatal hubris, ordered the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Admiral Yamamoto is supposed to have responded to the attack, “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.”

(Some observers now claim the saying was apochryphal.)

Because Hitler was caught in a foreign entanglement with the Japanese, he was obligated to declare war on us, as soon as he learned of the attack.

We needed the most powerful allies possible. Although the Brits were making a heroic stand in the Battle of Britain, they had suffered their own brand of fatal hubris, in underestimating the Japs in what would become the Pacific Theater of Operations. That ultimately left us with the Russian Communists. (As a socialist, FDR had no problem working with Communists, anyway.)

Sometime between 1954 and 1960, the socialists and communists took over propaganda in this country, and have since re-written history beyond recognition. Now, it is patriotic whites—anti-communist to a man—who are the authors of all of humanity’s atrocities.

(The great historical irony is that the Reds’ biggest ally was Ike. President Dwight D. Eisenhower destroyed our greatest anti-Communist, Sen. Joseph McCarthy, in order to protect the Army from the embarrassment of being shown to be lousy with Communist spies. See Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies.)

But in the mass murder Olympics, the Communists have swept just about all the gold medals, with the exception of the one for slaughtering the most members of a single group, the 6,000,000 Jews the Nazis murdered. The Reds have so far murdered over 100,000,000 civilians over the past 100 years.

And now they’re poised to slaughter over 100,000,000 white Americans.

That trip in the 1940s was necessary, but a new trip is necessary now. But who will take it, and with which strange bedfellows?


Anonymous said...

"Now, it is patriotic whites—anti-communist to a man—who are the authors of all of humanity’s atrocities."

Those who hate whitey so much just stop going to the hospital next time you get sick and need medical help. White man medicine must be no good too.

David In TN said...

TCM is showing Battleground (1949) on Monday Night, February 4, at 8 pm ET.

By the way, my Dad really approved of the Chaplain's speech ("Was This Trip Necessary?"), delivered by Leon Aames.

This scene also was a "Cold War preparedness message," according to Jay Hyams' 1984 book, "War Movies."