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Battleground (1949)

Approved | | Action, Drama, History | 20 January 1950 (USA)
True tale about a squad of the 101st Airborne Division coping with being trapped by the Nazis in the besieged city of Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944.


William A. Wellman


Robert Pirosh (story and screenplay)

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Van Johnson ... Holley
John Hodiak ... Jarvess
Ricardo Montalban ... Roderigues
George Murphy ... 'Pop' Stazak
Marshall Thompson ... Jim Layton
Jerome Courtland ... Abner Spudler
Don Taylor ... Standiferd
Bruce Cowling ... Wolowicz
James Whitmore ... Kinnie
Douglas Fowley ... 'Kipp' Kippton
Leon Ames ... The Chaplain
Herbert Anderson ... Hansan (as Guy Anderson)
Thomas E. Breen Thomas E. Breen ... Doc
Denise Darcel ... Denise
Richard Jaeckel ... Bettis


We follow a band of American soldiers as they engage the Germans in a snowy, foggy winter near Bastogne in World War II. They're low on fuel, rations, and ammunition; the Germans are constantly encouraging their surrender via radio and leaflets, and most importantly, the pervasive thick fog makes movement and identification difficult and prevents their relief by Allied air support. This film focuses much more on the psychology and morale of the soldiers than on action footage and heroics. Written by Michael C. Berch <mcb@postmodern.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Action | Drama | History | War


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English | French | German

Release Date:

20 January 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bastogne See more »

Filming Locations:

Oregon, USA See more »


Box Office


$1,631,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


A private showing for President Harry S. Truman was arranged even before the premiere in Washington, D.C. on November 9, 1949, which was attended by Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101st during the siege. See more »


After the sun comes out and Allied Airpower comes to the rescue, the first fighter planes are Vought F4U Corsairs. This particular fighter plane did not serve in the European theater. They were only used in the Pacific, by the Marines and the Navy. See more »


[last lines]
Holley: [as they begin marching from the battlefield, passing their replacements as they enter] Hey, Kinnie - what ever happened to Jody?
Sgt. Kinnie: All right, come on! Come on! What do you want these guys to think, you're a bunch of WACs? Alright, alright pick it up now. Hut, two, three. Hut, two, three, four. Hut, two, three, four. You had a good home but you left...
I Company: You're right!
Sgt. Kinnie: Jody was there when you left...
I Company: You're right!
Sgt. Kinnie: Your Baby was there when you left...
I Company: You're right!
Sgt. Kinnie: Sound off!
I Company: One, two
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Referenced in Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1995) See more »


Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie
Sung by the soldiers
See more »

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User Reviews

A little sugar coating, but also the ugliness of war freshly seen, post WWII.
13 May 2010 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Battleground (1949)

It's tough to appreciate the horrors of any war, but I think it gets especially rough to know the ugliness at times of even the best soldiers, the desperation to survive, the egoism of being a hero or of pretending to be one, the utter weariness. Very little of this appears in WWII films made during or shortly after the war. You get grittier aspects in later films like The Big Red One or even Saving Private Ryan, but this one, Battleground, is somewhere between idealizing and the truth. In 1949, people were still coming to terms with what they lost, in lives and sanity and normalcy, and Battleground was a huge (and popular) step toward giving more truth to the soldiers and their sometimes cowardice.

This is one of the better films of the period, no question, but you have to watch with a small amount of adjustment to the facts--even when the destruction, screaming, death, cold, and sadness is totally palpable. It starts a little lighthearted and corny, even, but as conditions decline, realism climbs. It's terrifying even when the soldiers come off a little bit innocent and sweet. That sweetness is too often squashed and killed, literally, to make light of it. In fact, it's partly the contrasts that make both sides of the story clear.

William Wellman is one of the best of his kind, a Hollywood top notcher with a handful of great films to his credit. He, like William Wyler (even more legendary), never developed a style or characteristic subject matter to make their films even slightly "theirs." Which is fine, especially in a movie like this, where it's the events that we care about. For those who know their war history, the battle for Bastogne is one of the heroic moments in the Belgian part of the fight. The sheer firepower of the planes, the gritty step by step persistence of the footsoldiers, the heavy snow and heavier fog, it all wears heavily whether winning or losing. The costs are made so clear all around. This is one small part of the famous Battle of the Bulge, and it was Patton who eventually came to the aid of the soldiers in Bastogne.

It won Oscars for writing and cinematography (easy to see why the camera-work won, for sure). It was shot on the west coast (coming in under budget), and helped MGM make good money.

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