Tatiana had to watch Saving Private Ryan for a film class, so last night we streamed a 4K UHD version on Amazon.
During the last half hour I was reminded how enraged I was by the cowardly behavior of Jeremy Davies‘ Corporal Timothy Upham, and particularly by his failure to come to the rescue of Adam Goldberg‘s Private Stanley Mellish, who resultantly dies when that German with the tennis-ball haircut plunges a bayonet into his chest.
I was doubly infuriated by Upham’s subsequent inability to fire upon some nearby German troops as they’re shooting at his fellows, and particularly as that crewcut Kraut (i.e., the one who’d just killed Mellish and had earlier begged the platoon for his life) shoots poor Tom Hanks in the chest. And all through it Upham just sits there, trembling and sweating like the worst little candy-ass in the history of the U.S. military.
In the HE rewrite, Ed Burns‘s character, PFC Richard Reiben, is the one surviving guy in the platoon who spots what Upham is, and what he’s failed to do. After Hanks dies and Matt Damon is busy transforming into that stumbling old guy at the cemetery, Reiben walks up to Upham and says “you little quivering piece of shit…you’re worse than an enemy agent…I feel more respect for the Germans I just killed than I do for you…you worthless little turd, get ready to meet the Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost.”
And Upham whines and moans and begs for his life….”puhhleeze, don’t kill me…I swear I couldn’t help it…I got scared, please.” And Reiben says “you worthless fucking worm” and raises his M1 rifle and plugs him twice in the chest, and then walks over, pulls out a pistol and gives him one more in the forehead.
The way director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Robert Rodat dealt with Upham in the actual film was horrible — they offered a measure of sympathy to a contemptible slimey coward. My ending would be much more satisfying. If it feels good, do it.