(1949)4Karl WilliamsHailed by critics, audiences, and veterans alike, William Wellman's Battleground (1949), together with such other war movies as Wellman's earlier Ernie Pyle biopic The Story of G.I. Joe (1945) and Lewis Milestone's A Walk in the Sun (1945), set a new standard of de-glamorization in war films that continued for decades. The common elements of this new veracity were sharply observed details about the life of the common serviceman, a nearly documentary-like portrayal of war's gore and harsh brutality, and a somewhat sardonic redefinition of heroism, patriotism, and duty. Many decades and several wars later, films as diverse as MASH (1970), Platoon (1986), Hamburger Hill (1987), and Saving Private Ryan (1998), just to name a few, shared these fundamentals and were, in turn, acclaimed as superior war films. Battleground's background story is nearly as interesting as its plot. Producer Dore Schary, who preferred his film projects to contain socially relevant messages, brought the project with him to MGM when he was lured away from RKO. But MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer resisted putting Battleground into production, believing the American public had gotten its fill of war movies. When the film was a box office smash and nominated for a half-dozen Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, Schary won the confrontation with one of Hollywood's most powerful men, and Mayer's career began to decline.