George C. Scott has appeared in a number of classic films, including Doctor Strangelove and The Rescuers Down Under. None of his roles were more iconic than his portrayal of General Patton.
Scott delivered an outstanding performance that earned him numerous awards. There are many great scenes in the 1970 film, but his speech is the best.
It’s a motivational powerhouse. Scott appears as Patton in full uniform against a massive American flag backdrop. He approaches the front of the stage and takes a saluting stance.
As he stands firm in salute, a trumpet plays. We see a lot of close-ups of the man. Many rings adorn his fingers, and medals adorn his uniform.
Patton takes a more relaxed stance as the trumpet solo concludes. He instructs the audience to take their seats. We can hear the audience sitting down behind the camera.
Patton begins by explaining what it means to win a war to the soldiers. He emphasizes how wars are not won by dying for your country. They are won by causing “the other poor dumb bastard to die for his country.”
Patton discusses politics by emphasizing that Americans were born fighters. He describes how the soldiers were once children who looked up to the best. As he describes it, America loves winners and despises losers.
Patton paces the stage, emphasizing that America will never lose a war. He emphasizes how an army is all about teamwork and how individuality is a waste of time. He criticizes the Saturday Evening Post for publishing an article about individuality.
Spirits are raised when Patton mentions how they are the best men with the best equipment. He feels sorry for the enemy, knowing how powerful his army will be.
Patton’s descriptions are quite graphic. When his men meet the enemy, he says, they’ll “cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks.”
Patton addresses the men who may tense up under gunfire, realizing there is still fear. Patton claims that this will not be an issue. Duty is something he knows every soldier feels in their bones.
‘When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that was your best friend’s face a moment ago, you’ll know what to do,’ he says.
Patton mentions how he never wants to be told that positions are being held. That is unacceptable. His army should be constantly moving forward.
‘We’re going to go through him like crap through a goose,’ says Patton of his method of advancement.
Patton mentions how the men who make it back home will have quite the story to tell. He assures them that telling war stories to their grandchildren will be a memorable experience.
Patton concludes his speech with admiration. ‘Oh, I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle whenever and wherever,’ he says.
‘That’s all,’ Patton says as he finishes. He then exits the stage, ready for battle.
This speech has been one of the most memorable movie speeches. It’s been parodied in everything from The Simpsons to the Sesame Street movie Follow That Bird. It remains just as powerful today as it was in 1970.