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Patton’s Secret Mission
by Jim Sudmeier, story by Peter Domes and Martin Heinlein.
This screenplay won the Platinum REMI (first place) award at the Houston Film Festival, 2006. Up to now, Patton’s Secret Mission has escaped being made into what could be the best US tank movie of all time (see comparisons under “Best Tank Movie?” with Kelly’s Heroes, Patton, and Fury). Unlike KELLY’S HEROES and FURY, we start with a realistic mission and a plot so unbelievable that it needs no Hollywood embellishments. It is the little-known true story of General George S. Patton’s unauthorized, daring, nighttime raid by a 300-man armored Task Force led by Capt. Abe Baum 50 miles behind German lines to rescue Patton’s son-in-law from a POW camp in Hammelburg. This high-stakes gamble is full of suspense, big egos, Nazi villainy, violent tank battles, and amazing twists and turns.
The audience will feel what it is like to live and fight in the noisy, claustrophobic, smelly, environment of the Sherman tank. The roar of the engines makes a huge impression (see our website LINKS). We want our film to do for the Sherman tank what DAS BOOT did for the U-Boat. The raiders blow up trains, truck, barges—anything that moves and many things that don’t. Such is the training of the vaunted 4th Armored Division. Bridges are blown up in their faces by the Germans, and they survive a blizzard of anti-tank fire in “Bazooka Alley.” The raiders are hit broadside as they approach Hammelburg like ducks in a shooting gallery by ten newly arrived tank destroyers. Why didn’t Patton arrange for air support? The next day as they take their last stand they are crushed by a coordinated German assault and the raid degenerates into a panicky stampede. Twenty-five of the raiders and an unknown number of prisoners are killed, 80% of the raiders become German prisoners, and the rest escape to freedom. The Nazi major who orchestrates the counterattack beats up Pvt. Solotoff, Capt. Baum’s captured interpreter, because he is Jewish and sentences him to death.
The dynamics of the 25 year old relationship between Eisenhower and Patton is the trigger for this story. Patton’s romance with Jean Gordon, the 30 year old half-niece of his wife is portrayed. The final scene is a ticker tape parade through millions of people in Boston, where Patton gives a speech that gets him in trouble once again. He flies off to Germany, never to see his family again.
Until this website the author has had little time or method to effectively publicize the script. Those who have read it have given us consistently enthusiastic reviews. That includes Martin Blumenson, principal Patton biographer; Karel Margry, Editor of “After the Battle” Magazine; Alan Tomkins, Academy Award-nominated Art Director for Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers; and highly decorated WWII veterans/authors such as Henry G. Phillips and Dr. John B. Shirley. Hammelburg raiders, including Bill Nutto and raid leader Abe Baum also made suggestions and stamped it with their imprimaturs.
PRODUCERS NOTE: There is enough material in the script (with the help of scenes omitted due to space limitations) for a five part mini-series, building to a suspenseful conclusion. German co-authors Lt. Col. Peter Domes and M.Sgt Martin Heinlein are the world authorities on the Hammelburg raid. They maintain a website on the topic (www.taskforcebaum.de), and have written a book on it in German (Alarm! Die Panzerspitze Kommt!!!) which will soon to be available in English (Task Force Baum: Behind Enemy Lines!). Domes and Heinlein might well be available as military advisors, and although there is no guarantee, their connection with the German Infantry School in Hammelburg might also facilitate shooting on location, use of a virtual village movie set on the army base, availability of extras, etc.
Jim Sudmeier Oct 13, 2019