Battleground (1949)

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Released 4-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Cartoon: Little Rural Riding Hood
Featurette-Let's Cogitate
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1949
Running Time 113:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By William A. Wellman

Warner Home Video
Starring Van Johnson
John Hodiak
Ricardo Montalban
George Murphy
Marshall Thompson
Jerome Courtland
Don Taylor
Bruce Cowling
James Whitmore
Douglas Fowley
Leon Ames
Herbert Anderson
Thomas E. Breen
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Lennie Hayton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This movie tells the story of the World War II Battle of the Bulge, from the point of view of the 101st Airborne Division. Encircled by the Germans in Belgium, they looked doomed until...well, you'll have to watch the film or consult your local history books.More specifically, the film is told from the point of view of new recruit Layton (Marshall Thompson) and the platoon to which he belongs.

    The Germans made a terrible blunder in attacking the 101st. Had they know they were fighting the likes of Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban, John Hodiak, George Murphy, James Whitmore, Jerome Courtland, Don Taylor, Douglas Fowley, Herbert Anderson (billed as Guy), James Arness and the ubiquitous Richard Jaeckel, they would have given up without a fight. Or run away screaming.

    The film was directed by veteran William Wellman. The footage of the soldiers in the snow and fog was shot entirely on a soundstage, but the art direction is so good that you would not notice. Robert Pirosh won an Oscar for his screenplay, but the soldiers are really just caricatures and there is little depth to them. This film could easily have been made during the war, as it seems no different to similar multiple character films like Guadalcanal Diary and Air Force. Despite a slow and hackneyed first half with too much comedy relief, it gets much better in the second half as the Germans surround the Americans. War film lovers will enjoy this one.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, close to the original 1.37:1. The opening credits are windowboxed in the original aspect ratio.

    This is a reasonably sharp transfer of a black and white film, with sufficient detail present. Contrast is good, though black levels are a little too dark in some respects, making shadow detail average. Some of the darker uniforms and dark hair have little definition as a result.

    Aside from the occasional shimmer of aliasing, which is barely noticeable, there is a fair bit of edge enhancement used in the transfer. This only appears in selected scenes.

    Of more concern is the condition of the film itself. There is a lot of grain, particularly on the sky in the opening scenes. There are plenty of white spots indicating minor nicks to the print material, as well as a few instances of dirt. There are also scratches, such as at 25:10 for a few seconds. The inserted stock footage does not look out of place, even though it was obviously not shot for the film. The film is obviously unrestored and the viewer suffers the consequences. It is not so bad that I would recommend avoiding this disc, but it is disappointing.

    Optional English subtitles are slightly smaller than normal, but are still readable and closely match the dialogue. One one occasion they appear at the top of the frame when one of the soldiers is reading a leaflet.

    This is an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change placed at 62:49 while a newspaper is displayed on screen, and thus is only slightly disruptive to the flow of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Audio is provided in three languages with the default English track being Dolby Digital 1.0.

    Dialogue is quite clear and distinct, with little in the way of distortion or hiss. The audio quality is a lot better than the video quality, and I did not find myself distracted by any inadequacies in the audio.

    The music score consists of the usual military themes and is credited in small type to Lennie Heyton.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

    The main menu has some generic war film music, which I am not sure is even from the film.

Little Rural Riding Hood (6:20)

    This 1949 Technicolor MGM cartoon is in pretty good condition. Tex Avery directed this story of a country bumpkin wolf who visits his sophisticated cousin in the city. Optional subtitles are provided.

Let's Cogitate (8:00)

    This is a 1948 Pete Smith Specialty, narrated by Mr Smith himself. It is a mish-mash of little skits on the theme "have you ever wondered why..." and stars Dave O'Brien, who appeared in most of the shorts in this series. There is an amusing bit with a boomerang. Optional subtitles are provided, and the film is in reasonable condition.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This release appears to be identical to the Region 1 offering.


    A good but not great war film, with an adequate transfer, and extras not relevant to the film, though you might have seen them with the film if you saw it in 1949.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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