Movie Death DB Heading
Home | Categories | Deaths | Reports | Forums | Search | Submit a Death | Links | FAQ | Contact

Saving Private Ryan, Private Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg)

Site Rating: 67%
(ratings: 3)
Writeup Rating: 87%
(ratings: 3)
Film: Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Deceased Character: Private Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg)
Archetype: Goody (Minor)
Killed by: German Soldier
Killed with: Knife


Please register in our forums to rate deaths - it's free!
'One on One' icon 'Stabbed' icon 'Own Weapon' icon
Offsite Links

Written by Mr. Mouseburger 1st Mar 2006

Kindly submitted by Iguana Boy

For looking up things like basic pregnancy symptoms or just general questions about your health you may find that the Internet is a good source of medical advice and information. Of course if you're in danger of dying from some sort of medical condition then you need to speak with a doctor, not do a health search online.


The American soldiers, numbers depleted, hungry, and tired have resolved to fight a suicide mission defending – or blowing up - a crucial bridge that could turn the tide of World War II.

In an effort to keep the untested translator out of harms way, or to make sure he doesn't get in the way of the fighting, Mellish, a tough Brooklyn Jew, loads the milquetoast Corporal Upham with ammunition, telling him to be "Johnny on the Spot" with the additional bullet belts.

As the final battle wages on, Upham finds himself out of ammunition in an attic room, and Mellish is fighting one-on-one against a German soldier. The German slowly gains the upper hand. Mellish pulls out a knife, but the German is too strong, and pushes Mellish's hand backwards, pointing the blade towards the American's chest. Mellish starts to beg. "Wait a minute. Wait a minute"

Meanwhile, Upham is stricken with panic and unable to move. He hides literally next door to the fight, and all he would have had to do is enter the room and fire his weapon in order to save his friend's life. But he can not.

The German slowly pushes the knife into Mellish's chest, quietly whispering something in German, which translates as "Give up, you don't stand a chance! Let's end this here; it will be easier for you like this!" Mellish shakes as his life leaves him and the German leaves the room, walking past the quivering Upham. The German leaves him alone; he is not a threat.



3 categories : One on One, Stabbed, Own Weapon

Please register in our forums to rate our writeups - it's free!

Other Death Reviews for Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks)
Private Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg)

Last Updated: 2nd Jun 2008
Number of views for this review since 30th May 2008: 45427
This review has 43 comments. Reply to the comments
Comment 1 by 'mrnitropb' (reply to this comment)
Was the stabby german soldier the same Steamboat willie they released earlier? The same one who is later shot by the translator? I know of the three instances two are teh same guy, not sure if its all three.
Comment 2 by 'Kooshmeister' (reply to this comment)
It's not the same guy, at least according to sources I've read.
Comment 3 by 'DeathAngel' (reply to this comment)
It must have been the same guy. At the end he says, "Upham..." before Upham shoots him.
Comment 4 by 'thomas' (reply to this comment)
The german guy that he shoots, saying ´upham i know you´, that is the guy they let go with a blindfold earlier in the film
Comment 5 by 'Kooshmeister' (reply to this comment)
[quote DeathAngel]It must have been the same guy. At the end he says, "Upham..." before Upham shoots him.[/quote]Yes, the guy who kills Tom Hanks and is then shot by Upham is the fellow who they let go earlier. But the one who kills Mellish and passes Upham on the stairs is a different guy.
Comment 6 by 'Rob' (reply to this comment)
Is the soldier that they let go and shot Tom Hanks the same soldier who killed the american soldier with the knife? I need whatever help I can get on this one, there are at least 100 people saying they were the same and I'm one of the few that says differently. ( There are steak dinners riding on this.)
Comment 7 by 'Kooshmeister' (reply to this comment)
Try reading through a thread before you post. It's been stablished that the soldier who kills Miller (Hanks) is not the same guy who kills Mellish. The guy who kills Miller is "Steamboat Willie," the machine-gunner who Miller let go earlier; Upham kills him in retaliation. The guy who stabs Mellish is a different soldier.

What makes it confusing is the guy loses his helmet in the fight with Mellish, making it difficult to distinguish him from Steamboat Willie because all of the Germans have odd crewcuts (which I've read most German soldiers of the time did not actually have), making them all appear very similar to one another with their helmets off.
Comment 8 by 'MCTales89' (reply to this comment)
The guy who kills Mellish was Waffen-SS, as shown by the SS insignia on his collar. Steamboat Willie, on the other hand, lacks this insignia. For more details, click here.
Comment 9 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
The small squad of Rangers and airborne troops defending the bridge are fighting a Waffen SS divsion, the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich". This is chronologically incorrect as the Das Reich division arrived on the Western Front around 16th July, while Miller's headstone states that he died on the 14th, during the main battle for the bridge with Das Reich division tanks, assault guns and Panzergrenadiers (motorised infantry). The Das Reich division had been battle tested, hardened and performed with great skill on the Eastern Front against the Red Army before being transferred to the West. Its a shame that in Saving Private Ryan they are portrayed as being so green, walking straight into Miller's outfits ambush without methodically clearing house to house during their advance through the town. Given the importance of the bridge and lack of any visible resistance, they should have known that something wasn't right and anticipated an ambush in advance, instead of walking straight into it and getting blown to hell and gone. Only their numbers really saved them. Other things like driving a Marder (open topped tank destroyer) down the main street, lined with multi-teared buildings was just plain stupid. The Marder, inevitably was knocked out from above by infantry with Molotov cocktails. Another point I wonder about is whether the Stug (assault gun) could elevate its 75mm weapon as much as it did to engage Jackson (the sniper) and Parker (the machine gunner) in the bell tower. I should check it. On the American side, having two .30 cal machine guns - why not distribute ALL the .30 cal ammunition before the ambush, instead of trying to do it piecemeal, under intense fire? Anticipating close combat, those with compatible weapons - including Mellish - should have fixed bayonets. Mellish would have stood a better chance against the SS infantryman who eventually stabs him, if he had done so. The SS panzergrenadier that kills Mellish is NOT "Steamboat Willie", "Willie" is shot in the end when Upham somehow manages to get 10-15 men to surrender, and he tries to communicate with Upham. But Upham had seen him shoot Captain Miller on the bridge, who had shown him mercy back at the radar site. Upham decides he deserves to die for his misdeeds and pops him then and there. Also, "Willie" is not an SS trooper, he is a Wermacht soldier, probably from the 352nd infantry division, who were defending the beaches at Omaha. There are numerous things that I won't go on with. Saving Private Ryan is a great movie, but it has its flaws just like any other.
Comment 10 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
After researching, I found that the Stug (probably Ausf F variant), in that close proximity to the bell tower, would not have been able to elevate its 75mm main weapon to engage Jackson (the sniper) and his supporting machine gunner in the bell tower. A few other things - I never saw any of the Tiger I (tanks) fire their hull mounted machine guns, which are purposely designed to engage attacking infantry over the frontal arc; the drivers vision block on the tanks is not open, as depicted in the film, they were protected by a layer of bullet-proof glass; Sgt Horvath should have known that fring bazooka rounds at the (second) Tiger turret did not give much chance for a kill, he would have neen better off either retreating wile there was still time or going for the tanks tracks to achieve a mobility kill. Instead the bazooka rounds were ineffective against the Tigers thick frontal armour including the turret. There's more. I'll add to the when they come to mind.
Comment 11 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
On the subject of Sgt Horvath, his tactics were sound when engaging the Stug (assault gun) from the rear where the armour is thinnest. The Stug was completely destroyed by his bazooka shot. If possible the same tactic should have been used on the second Tiger tank but this was probably impossible since the bridge was being overrun by SS infantry. On Capt Miller, it seems ludicrous that he attempted to retrieve the firing mechanism for blowing the bridge in an upright position, but he was in shell shock, after a close indirect hit from the Tiger's powerful 88mm PaK main gun. Shell shock is a terrible thing and Miller ended up taking a bad chest shot, notably from "Steamboat Wille", who had joined the Das Reich division sometime after being let go at the radar station. Upham eventually took care of him and at that point became a real soldier.
Comment 12 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
Lastly, on the hand to hand fight between Mellish and the SS Das Reich panzergrenadier that eventually kills him. As I mentioned before, Mellish should have fixed his bayonet which would have given him a better chance of a kill (longer range, better leverage), but he had not. Mellish really only gave himself one good chance against his enemy - the single time he was on top and then drew his bayonet in a flimsy, unsecure grip. When on top he had the opportunity to pin his opponent to the ground by the throat (strangle), get as much weight as he could on him (get lower, laying on him) and gouge out his eyes, rather than staying high and pulling his bayonet in a grip that would make it fairly easy for his opponent to disarm him, which is exactly what happened. You can't fight if you can't see. He could then have used his bayonet to cut or stab at his opponents throat. Mellish remained mounted high on his opponent where his weight was not really advantageous. I am a Ninjutsu practicioner and understand the techniques behind grapple fighting. Mellish was inevitably overturned and had his weapon taken by force from the flimsy grip he had it in, ending up in a very bad position, on his back and mounted by an armed opponent. This is somewhere you never wan't to be. When pinned by the SS soldier toward the end of the fight, Mellish attempted to push the bayonet straight back up, against the entire weight of his opponent, rather that pushing it up and to the side to get the bayonet pointing away from his body. He could also have used a wrist lock to force the German onto his side, giving him another opportunity to get control. He did neither unfortunately. The SS soldier, being bigger and stronger, had only to push down with all his weight and wait for Mellish to tire before ramming the bayonet fatally into his chest, around the heart area. Mellish had few opportunities to defeat his opponent but unfortunately did not make use of them. Another weapon that could have been highly useful in such close combat was Mellishs' entrenching tool, sharpened to a razors edge. Use of these was common practice in the room to room fighting on the Eastern Front (i.e. Stalingrad) and they proved a very deadly adversary. However hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it? That's just my thoughts on the death of Mellish.
Comment 13 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
...one last thing, not really related to this thread but I'll say it anyway: I feel that the death of Wade (the medic), hit during the frontal assault on the machine gun site at the radar station, was far more tear-jerking than the death of Mellish or anyone else in the movie for that matter. It was a very painful and emotional scene for me to watch. I don't know how anyone else feels about it...
Comment 14 by 'dude' (reply to this comment)
...completely agree with you, David. Wade's gentle nature throughout the movie, his role as the platoon's life-saver, and his calling out for his mother while he bleeds to death all conspire at once to hit you right in the chest. But, oddly enough, the scene that hits me hardest is right after Wade's death, when Cpt. Miller goes off by himself to break down in private by the radar tower.....gets me just about every time.
Comment 15 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
I totally agree with you dude. After watching Wade die from multiple machine gun hits in the abdomen, painfully, crying out for his mother and begging not to die and to go home (this scene always puts a lump in my throat), I think the enormous weight of responsibility hit Cpt Miller very hard. He must have felt completely helpless watching Wade, gentle natured and caring as you say, fade away as he bled out from his wounds. The little they could do was fill him with morphine to at least give him some respite from his physical pain and fear while slowly dying. Cpt Miller would have felt a terrible weight of responsibility after giving the order for the squad to assault the machine gun nest and losing one of his men in such an awful way. Cpt Miller breaks from the group to a location where he could be alone and ensures that no one sees him release the anguish from all of this, crying and pouring it all out alone as he did. This too, was very emotional to watch and every time I see it I just wish that there was someone who could provide a shoulder to lean on and support him through that terribly emotional time. But Cpt Miller, being selfless and not wanting to shake his squads faith in his leadership, cried and poured it out alone.
Comment 16 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
I thought I might put in a point of interest, from the German (2nd SS Das Reich) battlegroup point of view, advancing toward the bridge and getting caught in a well laid out ambush prepared by Cpt Miller's squad and the small group of airborne soldiers defending the bridge. The combat was to be 3 dimensional, in that there were firing positions both level with and above the anticipated route of the Germans towards the bridge. Until ammunition was depleted, then being overwhelmed by numbers, Cpt Miller's group was very effective against the advancing Germans. To draw a parallel, during the first Chechen war, a brigade (the Mikop) literally marched into rebel held Grozny with tanks and armoured personnel carriers in column formation. Similarly to Cpt Miller's ambush, the Chechen rebels were waiting for them, with firing positions prepared in the upper floors of buildings, in basements and covered in strongpoints. Rebels in basements and on the upper floors of buildings were completely immune to tank fire. The rebels also had very capable snipers. The T-72 tank could not depress (-) or elevate (+) its 125mm primary weapon to the required angle to engage these rebels. The rebels also had an ace in the form of the RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). Most likely they were the early model RPG-7, but these may have been complimented by other anti-tank weapons. They likely would also have had RPO-A's (rocket propelled flamethrower) for any troops who attempted to dismount, in addition to machine gun positions and as I mentioned and very capable snipers (so accurate that they could shoot the radio antenna off an APC). In typical column ambush fashion, the rebels first took out the leading and trailing vehicles in the column first to give those in between no room to move or escape. They rained RPG rounds on the tanks and APCs (some tanks were hit 4 or 5 times) and some soldiers destroyed inside their APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier - probably BMP-2/BTR-80) without even firing a shot. At the end of it all, the Mikop brigade ceased to be - they were annihalated to a man. Grozny square was littered with death - Russian bodies and the smokey hulks of burning tanks and APCs. It was a true military disaster. So how to counter this? The Russians learned from this experience and began to mix SPAAGs (Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Guns) in with their armoured columns. At the time the vehicle that fulfilled this role was the ZSU-23-4 Shilka. Armed with a quadruple 23mm gun mount, it was able to bring these fearsome weapons to bear at elevation angles other combat vehicles can not (the Shilka is a purpose designed AA weapon, so its armament must be able to be elevated to high angles for engagement). The quad 23mm guns are liquid cooled, have an extremely high rate of fire and can dispense several types of munition, as dictated by the operation. For the rebels, no longer was it a 100% safe bet to fire with impunity from the upper floors of buildings. Probably the only real weakness of the Shilka is its lack of effective armour protection (i.e. it has very thin armour). The technique of mixing Shilkas with armoured columns did however, prove an effective defence, probably as well as a deterrent. Over time, the Shilka was replaced by the newer Tunguska system which itself was replaced by the latest Pantsir system, which is armed with a mix of AA cannon and SAMs (Surface to Air) missiles. From the Russian experience you've just read, you can see partly why Cpt Miller's ambush was effective until ammunition was depleted and they were overrun due to superior numbers. I hope this little slice of analysis was an engaging read (no pun intended smiling smiley.
Comment 17 by 'young' (reply to this comment)
its a film
Comment 18 by 'Beavie' (reply to this comment)
" Mellish should have fixed his bayonet which would have given him a better chance of a kill (longer range, better leverage)" My thoughts exactly. As a death scene, it was brilliantly played out, and I couldn't have done it better myself grinning smiley...I find myself watching it over and over sometimes. It's so personal...and another thing...if I were Mellish fighting this stout German character, I would have went for my .45 handgun....because he had time to reach to his right and then his left for his knife....damn....grinning smiley I love your insight on the shit, David.
Comment 19 by 'Anonyyy' (reply to this comment)
The above is quite an inspired post and i wish they had people like this directing war movies! Re the elevation thing on the tank, no it couldnt, u had to literally move to direction and fire those things like cannons of old.

Another big historical inaccuraccy was the complete lack of British involvement, i know we werent at Omaha where it really got messy - that beach was like how they thought all of them would have being on the day, but surely we deserved a mention instead of slagging good old monty off when the opportuntity arose!

And no they were seperate Germans so grats on winning your bet, the haircut things quite true too looking at contempary pictures of german forces at the time in Normandy but who knows maybe they actually had barbours out there.
Comment 20 by 'Nash' (reply to this comment)
I have a question about the radar tower scene, when Wade dies. I thought that squads would not attempt to engage an MG-42 nest head on. I thought the americans new that this could be suicide. I am suprised that Wade was the only one that was shot. If anyone can fill me in, please do.
Comment 21 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
Thanks so much for your kind words. I know Saving Ryan is only a movie but its based on history - real history - from a Europe reeling in chaos after the Nazi occupation of Poland, Belguim, Holland, France, move into Russia (Operation Barbarossa), etc followed eventually by the allied amphibious invasion (Operation Overlord) at Normandy to open up a second front, thus relieving some of the enourmous pressure on the Soviets fighting in the East. Stalin had been pushing the allies to execute Overlord for many months. But it was a gigantic task; requiring great organisation, training and planning on every scale to make is do-able. Some say "it's just a movie". To me that it akin to spitting on the headstones of the approximately 50 million people who died during WW2 - and also be mindful that 1945 wasn't that long ago. Films and literature such as Saving Ryan are a reminder to everyone, that freedom is not free at all and comes at the highest of costs, of blood and sacrifice. The posts I have written merely attempt to look deeper, and I try to provide an unbiased insight into the military tactics that were or could have been used during the allied defence at the bridge. Saving Ryan is not just a movie, per se. It is also a stark warning to never let the horrors of WW2 repeat themselves.

Not implying that Iran has any ambitions for war or expansion - I would still watch that country closely. I don't know if their leaders have watched Saving Ryan.
Comment 22 by 'Davd' (reply to this comment)
Lastly,

If you want to learn more about the Waffen SS (which literally translates to "armed or fighting SS"), the elite of the Nazi war machine, but also declared a criminal organisation at the Nuremburg trials, take a look at this video on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6m_pvDV4JI

There are other videos that are available from interviews with SS veterans and the Allied soldiers who fought against them on the right of the main video window. Altogether these are a balanced and very informative set of presentations.
Comment 23 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
Nash,

I've often wondered myself why Captain Miller organised his men for a three-pronged frontal assault on the machine gun nest at the radar station. There was some cover in terms of shell craters and the like but also a lot of distance to run upright to get within grendade range, and a lot of this ground was free of cover and worse still, uphill. Captain Miller was relying on the delay that the Germans would incur when changing the MG42s barrels but I didn't see/hear this happen. The MG42 was a superb weapon - one of the best of the era - with an extremely high rate of fire. It does seem, looking back, to be somewhat suicidal to take on such a machine gun frontally - especially one dug-in. There are two points I guess. Firstly, Miller's squad would have been better off skirting around the target, through the brush, unnoticed and attacking it either from multiple angles on the flanks, with the Sgt and BAR gunner providing fire support to keep the Germans head down while the others advanced. The second point is: what the hell was Wade doing exposing himself to fire during the advance. He should not have been risking his neck during the assualt - he was far too important an asset to lose. But that's the way they played it out on the screen.
Comment 24 by 'David' (reply to this comment)
Responding to your post Beavie,

I don't know that Mellish even had a .45 1911; just his M1 Garand rifle (generally the case for his rank), with its much hated, loud, metallic "ping" when auto-ejecting empty ammo clips. The only workable option as I've mentioned is: with ammo out, a fixed bayonet or an entrenching tool (trench shovel) sharpened to a razors edge. Brutal, but tried and true, particularly in the bitter war in the East. Hide within striking reach and nail your opposition before he has time to react. Other options? Mellish didn't really have time to scan his surroundings for other possibilities (e.g. fire poker perhaps). What he had was all he had before the fight began. As a Ninjutsu practicioner we are taught to use our surroundings to our advantage, and that almost any object can become a lethal weapon in the right hands. Well, that's about it on my reply Beavie.

BTW if anyone would like to chat more about all this or anything at all military/otherwise, feel free to email me on vitalida@hotmail.com. I'd be happy to correspond - you seem like a really cool bunch of guys.
Comment 25 by 'Gavin' (reply to this comment)
near the beginning at omaha beach, caparso hands mellish a knife and he crys. im unsure as to why he crys and is upset!! im sure you hardcores will know why!!! thanks
Comment 26 by 'Vlad the Emailer' (reply to this comment)
This film is one of my favourites, and like all war films, contains a bit of 'srtistic license' and is less than satisfactory from a tactical and strategig POV. Even so, I have watched it many, many times... always hoping that the cowardly Upham might at last get his inger out and DO something! He never does, and never will I'm afraid, just as King Harold will never win at Hastings...

As someone said, it IS a film. The most spectacular and historically accurate parts are in thr opening scene. All the words said on that beach, in that scene, were really said - including, I'm afraid "don't shoot - let 'em burn!"

The final battle was well done IMO, but does contain some absurdities and anomalies. Overall however, the emotional and 'personal' scenes were well researched and well presented - even the dramatic 'faling down wall' was based on a historical incident I expect - this film was very thoriughly researched, and not overly sentimentalised AFAIK.

Wade's tragic death was based on many incidents that occured (both in WW1 and WW2), where overdoses of morphine were administered with terrible reluctance to ease the passing of those mortally wounded. Wade himself knows, in fact asks to be put out of his misery, as no doubt many did. He cries out for his mother, as dying men have done since we first started fighting battles - no matter how brave, this is the first person we ever see, and the last we call out for.

I have never associated 'stemboat wilhelm' with the charachters at the end, I'm sure this is a mistake? Upham's cowardly esecution of the SS soldier at the end is dur to his shame, nothing more. Upham is intriguing, he is the most sensitive and intelligent character in the film, even the most decent - until the ens. He gets bullied, he isn't able to cope... what happens to him after the war? I'd guess he becomes a bad salesman, estate agent or unsuccessful writer, and drinks himself to death in the arly 1960's...

The only other survivor (save Ryan) is the most hard nosed, cynical and brutal fellow in the company, who no doubt ends up as a gangster and comes to a sticky end. There is an element of 'moralism' in the film, which I'm not quite comfortable with. All who show signs of sensitivity or humanity die soon, the toughest veterans last longest. That's peobably the way it was - I wasn't there thankfully.

I was glad to see that Mellish, a most unpleasant fellow IMO, was the antidite to the usual type of hand wringing Jewidh fellows you see in such films. There was a prototypr Israeli, vengeful, uncompromising and pretty unloveable - my eye did not water at his end, I have to say. It was refreshing to see the SS man 'helping' him to pass from this wotld in a way...

His earlier crackup was the only sign of emotion - I think the Hitler Youth dagger and his comment was to do with 'Strength through Joy' inscribed on it... maybe I am being unsympathetic to the man? Miller's reaction to seeing his men shooting enemies who were trying to surrender, i.e., turning a bind eye, is important and understandable. This happened a lot during this campaign, on both sides. Emotions were high, with good reason.

I must confess, I was a bit unconvinced as the capibility of a greasy suck with respect to blowing wheels off a Tiger would work in practice? And, quite correct whoever it was that pointed out the maximum elevation of the gun which saw off Jackson and Parker...

Jackson intrigues me most of all really. The perfect soldier in so many ways... but why didn't he put a slug down that gaping 75mm barrel? And as for that single 20mm... the 'military' unrealities of the film are plentiful - even I can tell a Tiger chassis from a T34! Yet O still love the film....







.










.
Comment 27 by 'jdazzle' (reply to this comment)
dude come on it is a movie. Yes some of the tactics toward the end were not very good but come on. It is a movie. Jesus. It is historical fiction. It is based on real events but the specifics of the movie never happened. Yeah steven speilsberg sacrificed tactical detail for drama. It is a movie not a documentary. come on man. Just watch the movie. If you want historical accuracy on d-day read the longest day by cornelius ryan or watch the history channel.
Comment 28 by 'You're Retarded' (reply to this comment)
The guy that stabs mellish and later shoots Miller is the SAME soldier they let go at the machinegun nest earlier in the movie. That's the whole point of the drama. The guy they let go ends up killing two of their men. Mercy for the guilty condemns the innocent.
Comment 29 by 'Kooshmeister' (reply to this comment)
Mellish and Miller are both killed by two different men, but only Miller is killed by Steamboat Willie. Mellish's killer is some random guy.
Comment 30 by 'Cameron' (reply to this comment)
Not to call you out, Vlad the emailer. But Pvt. Richard Reiben also survives the whole movie. he is the one that is seen earlier wanting to kill steamboat willie and then when willie is let go he threatens to leave the squad in his anger.

Also, Matt Damon's character james ryan is not brutal and cynical as he is seen in the fedal position yelling before the tank buster P-51 planes save him and Reiben. And i dont see a farm boy from iowa becoming a ganster. just my insight on the subject.

David, i agree with basically everything you said, you understand what you are saying and obviously pay close attention to detail.

As for The Waffen SS soldier that kills mellish, he is NOT the same man as they have different uniforms. Upham executes steamboat willie out of his disgust for trusting him earlier in the movie and feeling sympathy for him (radio tower), not becuase he is immoral or not a responsible soldier.
Comment 31 by 'John' (reply to this comment)
Since you (David) seem to have much knowledge about the battle, do you really think that a Wehrmacht soldier that was picked up by other Nazi's would be put into an SS division?I was just wondering about the authenticity of this.
Comment 32 by 'Rokassan' (reply to this comment)
Its a different soldier. Steamboat was in the Regular German army. The German who killed Mellish was SS. Look at the SS runes on his collar then look at Steamboat he has Wermacht infantry bars. Or just look at the faces...different guys.
Comment 33 by '...' (reply to this comment)
No you dumbass, they are different. Look at their hairsyles, and facial creases and scars. I highly doubt he would get a haircut and a few more scars and creases in the short time between Melllish's death and Miller's death.
Comment 34 by 'Nate s' (reply to this comment)
When caparzo hands him the knife he says "look a hitler youth knife" I think he is crying because he may have killed a kid the hitler you were 13 to 16 year old kids it must have just hit home and broke him
Comment 35 by 'Moviefan' (reply to this comment)
The first time I saw this movie I interpreted the knife death scene of Mellish as Spielberg's comment on America entering the war late. Upham simply represents America's hand wringing and delay to engage in the battle that related in the death of so many Jews. Upham isn't clearly a killing justice machine until he sees his Captain shot by Steamboat Willie. Very similar to America not getting their war effort on until after the clear provocation of Pearl Harbor. Up until that point, much of the prevaling attitude was to let the Nazis and Commies take each other out. Now that said, I don't think he's saying America could have prevented the holocaust, however, I clearly feel he is trying to portray America's isolationism and hesitation until being attacked by Japan as resulting in additional deaths. Upham somehow can't move, is paralyzed unable to bring himself to visualize the unspeakable horrors going on upstairs and his obvious ability to help someone that IMHO had the clearest motives in the entire movie - preservation and justice for his race of fellow human beings. Mellish seems to be the only one aware of the hell that the jewish population is going through, which in my opinion again is unrealistic so, is there for drama. Everybody else including Miller is a conflicted man in a position of compromise, his only reason for moving through this is to get home to his wife and he will endure anything for that, nothing more and he doubts he can even tell her what he had to do to get back. Ryan is a pure cipher. A simple stand in for us the audience as a dubious unfeeling jerk portraying at best a cringingly awkward story of his brother as a warm memory (a nice twist but, a strange message) who needs to earn what the greatest generation laid down for us so, we can go to theatres and see this today. To me the storytelling is unabashadley moralizing, admist an attempt to portray a gripping and gritty war drama. I don't like or dislike the movie because of it. It simply makes it a movie to think a lot about and I believe the discussion of who kills Mellish simply attracts people because Spielberg buried stories within stories in that one scene and they are finding they need to know something that has affected them at a deep level way beyond the simple question they are asking. On a pure battle situation, fighting men did find themselves with "buck fever" unable to pull the trigger in a pure kill shot of another man. One of the most interesting data I've read about were how many rounds of bullets were found at the Battle of the Little Bighorn where soldiers apparently shot high over their intended targets. It's another reason why the dialog between the German and Mellish is not harrowing until the pleading begins and he says, Shhh, shhh, either comforting him or mocking him. I pick the latter. I think Spielberg wants us to understand that this German suddently realizes Mellish is a Jew. To me the translation and acting supports that.
Comment 36 by 'Ernie Kaputnik' (reply to this comment)
No.

While the German soldier they set free does, in fact shoot Tom Hanks, he is not the same soldier that stabs Adam Goldberg's character "Mellish".

Go back and watch movie again. Their hair-cuts and uniforms are identicle, but they are not the same soldier.

Hope you didn't have to buy your friend a steak dinner because somebody gave you the wrong answer.

Best regards,
Ernie
Comment 37 by 'Histor-e' (reply to this comment)
Anonymous User Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Another big historical inaccuraccy was the
> complete lack of British involvement, i know we
> werent at Omaha where it really got messy - that
> beach was like how they thought all of them would
> have being on the day, but surely we deserved a
> mention instead of slagging good old monty off
> when the opportuntity arose!

Agreed. I dislike the tendency of Hollywood to make out the Americans won the war just about single handedly.

Having visited most of the battle fields of Normandy, the landings were very different on each beach - Utah beach only sustained around 10 casualties(due to Montgommery's insistance on having a beach closer to the main target of Cherbourg), Sword & Juno were street fighting from the start.

Omah was bad because of the way the roads cut into the hillside and tactical mistakes creating ideal fields of fire for the germans. They were close to giving up at Omah during the battle at one point.

But the rest of the nasty fighting was done mostly by the Brittish and Canadians in bocage country side around Caen with a German tank division, which shielded the American forces to secure the important strategic sights. The American airborne were ineffective because they were so scattered.

The Brittish airborne are best represented in battle by Pegusus Bridge and Merville Gun Battery. Another amazing feat was the American Rangers at Point Du Hoc, having to scale a vertical cliff and assault a German Battery. PLUTO, "mulbury harbours" and "hobarts funnies" were outstanding Brittish engineering feats.

Also often overlooked is the Royal Navy, which planned and executed the largest assault in Naval warefare, with the largest fleet ever assembled of which 60% of the ships were RN, 30% USN. Easily the greatest ever amphibious assult in military history.
Comment 38 by 'Dixon Cannon' (reply to this comment)
I agree with your assessment regarding fixed bayonets. That issue has haunted me since first witnessing Mellish's death. The minute he knew he was out of ammo he should have fixed his bayonet to his M1. He would have had the jump on the SS man who appeared at the doorway and could have incapacitated him immediately. Funny how such things in a work of fiction can become such haunting and obsessive ideas in one's mind. That is the work of Spielberg's good story telling!
Comment 39 by 'River' (reply to this comment)
My question is why the sniper had to be a part of the attack on the machine gun nest as well. With his claims of being able to nail Hitler from a mile away, couldn't he have easily taken out that machine gun crew, or at least provided very effective cover?
Comment 40 by 'tom' (reply to this comment)
umm, cameron guy, vlad was implying that reiben was hard-nosed and cynical, and that he was the one who became a gangster, not ryan
Comment 41 by 'Hyok Kim' (reply to this comment)
"Anticipating close combat, those with compatible weapons - including Mellish - should have fixed bayonets."

It would make sense for the Germans, the attacking party, but not for the defenders fighting from positions unknown to the attackers. Fixing bayonets make firearms less accurate, plus the handling of firearms suffer, especially in close quarters.
Comment 42 by 'Hyok Kim' (reply to this comment)
David Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Upham eventually took care of him and at that
> point became a real soldier.



What do you mean 'a real soldier'?
Comment 43 by 'Me' (reply to this comment)
He was talking about reiben