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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A successful failure...
- History -
Operation Market-Garden, begun in September 1944, was an Allied military campaign led by Montgomery, the senior British field commander, in the latter stages of World War II. While the Allies were still in France, a plan had to be formulated for making the major push into German territory, a difficult task, considering the Rhine River (one of the major...
Published on May 27 2004 by FrKurt Messick

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful images, good performances. But sprawling in scope
You have to admire trying to make a commercial movie out of a lost battle. This movie has some very good performances and some wonderful images. Yet, somehow it feels like it could have been and should have been more. It feels less than the sum of its parts.
For example, Anthony Hopkins as Lt. Col. John Frost is one of the best things in the movie. Who doesn't...
Published on July 15 2003 by Craig Matteson


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Battles, Dialogue, Characters Make A Great Movie., June 12 2004
By 
Stuart Winer (Boston, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far (DVD)
I liked this film very much. It's not overly patriotic like Saving Private Ryan. It doesn't go for the happy, crowd pleasing ending. It doesn't pick out heros & bad guys for easy watching and it doesn't oversimplify.
This is well-paced, collage-style film about human fallibility and what happens when large wartime operations break down.
The dialogue is superb. There are 10+ characters interlocked in various relationships at all levels inside the army. These were the top actors in the world at the time, each with a role to play and an independent fate in the battle. All these guys are in their 60's now and seeing them so young is a surprise. Look for John Ratzenberger (Cliff Claven of Cheers) in Robert Redford's paratrooper platoon.
The production values were also excellent, on par with the best of WWII movies. There were many very realistic battle scenes and all the scenery and soldiers, equipment, etc. one could imagine. To the untrained eye it was 100% authentic.
This is not a happy movie or much fun. It's more real than that. Unfortunately it's also not especially harrowing - you know that things are not going to work out. It's just thoughtful and well-paced and very watcheable. If you like WWII movies this one is certainly worthwhile.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A successful failure..., May 27 2004
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far (DVD)
- History -
Operation Market-Garden, begun in September 1944, was an Allied military campaign led by Montgomery, the senior British field commander, in the latter stages of World War II. While the Allies were still in France, a plan had to be formulated for making the major push into German territory, a difficult task, considering the Rhine River (one of the major rivers of the world) provided a natural defensive border with the majority of the German homeland. Planning offensive operations required taking this into account, and how the forces would cross the river and remain safe while doing so, rather than have bottlenecks that would make the forces easy targets.
While Patton was in the south, pushing through France on the backside of the old Maginot line, Montgomery hit upon an idea to seize a series of bridges across the various rivers that made up the geography of the Low Countries, all the way up to Arnhem, one of the northern-most major bridges across the Rhine, a bridge outside of German territory, but a good jumping-off point for invading northern Germany. His plan won approval, and in one of the largest military operations of the war, a major push was developed to secure the bridges. This had the largest airborne component of any battle in the war, as troops were airlifted and dropped into position around each bridge, charged to hold the bridges until ground forces pushed northward linking up logistic and defensive lines toward each spot.
Operation Market-Garden was actually two operations -Market was the airborne component; Garden was the ground component. It was meant to take the Germans by surprise (which it did) and exploit their disorganisation (which was, sadly for the Allies, not as severe as intelligence predicted). The Allies were stopped short of their primary military objectives (securing an 80-mile corridor of bridges) by some 25-30 miles. Hence the name of the film, derived from the book by Cornelius Ryan, 'A Bridge Too Far'.
- Film -
Cornelius Ryan's book was adapted for the screen by writer William Goldman and director Richard Attenborough, a leading director of British cinema, noted for such diverse films as Gandhi (for which he won an Oscar), A Chorus Line, Cry Freedom, and Shadowlands. Attenborough was nominated for a BAFTA directing award for 'A Bridge Too Far' in 1978. Attenborough is also well-known in front of the camera, too.
Attenborough brought together a monumental cast for this epic film, worthy of Cecil B. DeMille in scope and size. At just under three hours in length, it is as unrelenting as the combat scenes it depicts. While not matching the graphic realism of films such as 'Saving Private Ryan', it nonetheless does a good job at combining a look at grand strategies (from formation to failure), tactical maneuvers, and individual combat situations. The high command in Britain, hoping to capitalise on the continuing disorder in Germany arising from their adjustment to fighting a losing war on two fronts (three, in fact, if one includes Italy), saw the opportunity to strike. Through a series of misfires and misunderstandings, they end up fighting not local police forces (the Netherlands had been spared intense battleground warfare for most of the war, and thus was thought to not contain any real combat-strength troops) but crack Panzer division placed there, essentially on a rest stop before being deployed in more critical areas.
The planning and preparations are realistic, from a look at the intelligence gathering and analysis (these were the days before satellite imagery), the gathering together of equipment and personnel, the execution of the operations, and the demoralising realisation that Operation Market-Garden is not going well. One of the most outstanding scenes involves General Stanislaw Sosabowski (played by Gene Hackman) discussing the operation with his superiors - Sosabowski, a general of the Polish forces in exile in England, distrusts the operation, for good reason, but acquiesces to support the plan. His uneasiness is palpable.
The cinematography is terrific, considering it was done largely without 'trick' shots - no helicopter shots, no CGI graphics, no slow motion or composite tricks. The airborne drops are breathtaking, giving the thrill and the danger a realistic tone. The film does not depict glider landings (some of the most dangerous types of drops, and presumably because of this danger, omitted from the filming). The desperation of the men who land without their equipment (or miss the airdrops later due to failed communications) is easily felt - the sense of the waste of war is driven home when one soldier sprints to get some desperately needed supplies that have fallen just outside of the secure zone - being shot by a sniper, the sense of futility is underscored by the breeze blowing soldiers' caps (which was the contents of the supplies for which the soldier paid with his life) drifting away.
The acting is stunning in many instances, but for the most part it is the usual good job rather than outstanding that one might hope for from such an elite group of actors. The music is memorable and appropriate. One drawback is that the editing of the film makes it a bit confusing to keep the various storylines going, particularly if one has studied the sequence of events in World War II history, which, while followed as a pattern, is not adhered to with rigour in the filming.
- Conclusions -
Operation Market-Garden was conceived as a plan to get the troops 'home for Christmas', hoping to secure a passage into Germany prior to the winter, to force them into surrender. As history would have it, there were major battles to fight before the war would finish the following summer. This film captures a significant campaign in good format, showing the operational and human aspects in a high relief.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable but Forgotten Epic, May 10 2004
By 
classicmoviefan (Rancho Mirage, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far (DVD)
This is a terrific film in many ways. It is not entirely accurate in places (Redford crosses the river bravely, not the British)... it also suffers from an overblown and, at times, tedius repetitive "military march" music score that seems inappropriate for the scenes now and again..... HOWEVER.... it is truly entertaining, moving, and it is accurate enough to show how truly tragic war can be. The acting is first rate, especially the British actors, the Americans also turn in some fine parformances, particularly Gene Hackman.... the only weak performance is by Ryan O'Neil, who looks terrific, but seems too young for the part he plays and tends to walk through his part with one blank and static expression.
I did enjoy this film though, great action shots, superior sets, props, costumes, and gorgeous photography. Overall the film is a moving tribute to some very brave and heroic men in a fierce battle... and the battle scenes are amazing and vivid.
The look of my DVD is VERY GOOD. The print is not without flaws, but it is clear and clean and the sound is fully stereophonic. It is presented in true widescreen and the color was very natural. It is nearly 3 hours long and I had no trouble with my player reading the second layer smoothly. I would give this print and transfer an 8 out of 10.
This DVD is not expensive, and its well worth the money for anyone who enjoys great world war 2 films... and this rates among the best of those concerning the European Theater. A fine DVD and a wonderful evening of entertainment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars About an actual World War II operation, April 27 2004
By 
Joseph H Pierre "Joe Pierre" (Salem, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bridge Too Far [Import] (VHS Tape)
This film was made in 1977 about an actual srategic operation mounted in Europe in 1944. It was planned by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the British commander who was well-known for his competition with (and dislike of) the American General George S. Patton, who is not represented in the film.

Montgomery is the bloke who got credit for pushing Rommel's Afrika Korps out of the Sahara, and for trying (unsuccessfully) to beat Patton across Sicily.

Like many top commanders, he was extremely egotistical, but short on aggression, as Patton demonstrated, and in this case his "Operation Market Garden" turned out to be a hairbrained disaster and blood bath: the Aircraft and gliders missed many of their drop zones and failed to drop vehicles and armament as planned (gliders were a disaster on D-Day, too, and they should have known). Eisenhower, being more politician than general, and trying to placate the Brits, let Monty talk him into the disastrous plan.) In the story, at least, one of the top British commanders refused to accept photographic evidence that German "Tiger" tanks from an SS Panzer division near Ramaden (one of their targets, which was supposed to be a "cakewalk") because he didn't want the operation to be delayed, which resulted in many unnecessary deaths. At the end of the movie, he said, "Well, as you know, I always thought we were trying to go a bridge too far." Hence the title. The man he addressed, played by Connery, should have shot him on the spot. The route chosen for the main body of troops who were to support the
airborne units was too narrow, incapable of carrying the required traffic, and resulted in the operation taking over a week, instead of the planned two days. Then, there were the inadequate boats for crossing the Rhine. The operation was mounted in only seven days, as opposed to several months for D-Day, which accounted, perhaps, for the numerous foul-ups. That, and the unmitigated arrogance of the planners!

In short, Monty's plan was hairbrained and poorly thought out, but he claimed afterward that it was "Ninety percent successful." That was Sir Bernard Montgomery!

This movie was well-acted with many top name actors, all of whom did justice to their parts: Sean Connery, Dirk Bogarde, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurance Olivier, and Robert Redford, to name only a few. The film itself seemed to be well researched, and quite realistic foe that era.

One of the better World War II films, I recommend it for those of that endangered species, the WWII generation--those of us who are left--and will most appreeciate it.

Joseph (Joe) Pierre, USN (Ret)

author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
and other books
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The WWII film for WWII fans, March 17 2004
By 
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far (DVD)
This is perhaps the best movie for the World War II buff. Might I must add this is for the buff only. If you watch a World War II movie for the passion of "Saving Private Ryan" or the formulaic melodrama of "Windtalkers," you may find yourself bored. "A Bridge Too Far" goes about as far as personal conflict with James Caan's attempt to rescue a fellow soldier to fulfill a promise that they won't die...but that lasts about ten minutes of the movie. The plot is all about the battle, the commanders, and the men who fought it, as well as the plans and actions that went behind the whole thing. If you saw "Tora Tora Tora" you'll know what I mean. And if "Tora Tora Tora" bored you, then you should probably avoid "A Bridge Too Far."
But if you like watching a movie with great attention to detail, then you will love this movie. No longer do we have American tanks with Iron Crosses painted on them, all the battles look almost like the way they would have looked in the real war. Perhaps the violence is not as graphically realistic as today's films, but being a film from the 70's you have to cut it some slack.
I can definately highlight the three best parts of this movie: 1) the airborne drops, which are filmed in first-person so that you see the paratroopers jumping out and even checking their parachutes afterward (adding to the realism); 2) the music - I don't know a collection of military themes that doesn't include the Bridge Too Far March; and 3) the cast, which was well picked for each part - I can't decide who I like better, Sean Connery as Urqheart, Edward Fox as Horrocks, or Sir Lawrence Olivier as a good-hearted Dutch doctor, but every one does their part like no other actor collection I've ever seen.
So in short, I highly recommend this for my fellow World War II historians who want to see a part of history re-animated in a near perfect fashion, then you should definately add this to your collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Heroism- a Tragedy that Market Garden Failed, Feb. 13 2004
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far (DVD)
The praises of this marvelous film have been expressed well by other reviewers, I would just like to make a few points-
(1) I realize that Field Marshal Montgomery comes out looking
bad from this film and his reputation is very poor in the United States, but the plan for Operation Market Garden, coming from such a cautious commander was very bold, and if the war could have been brought to and end in 1944, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved. Eisenhower and political echelons were aware there were risks, but they were willing to take them in order to try to end the war as soon as possible. The fact is that most commanders have their setbacks and Montgomery was NOT sacked after Market Garden, so those in charge realized that he was not the bumbling fool that many portray him as. However, the question remains why so little time was allotted for the preparations-perhaps the Allies were aware that German defenses were firming up as the Wehrmacht was retreating to the borders of the homeland.
(2) General Browning is portrayed as someone supremely overconfident, yet in reality, it was he who expressed the view that perhaps they were going a "Bridge too Far"
(3) I found the following scenes especially moving-the 504 Parachute Regiment (part of the US 82nd Airborne) crossing the river (scene with Robert Redford) in small boats, many of the troops paddling with their rifles in the face of murderous German fire and yet succeeding to reach the other side, reminiscent of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg; the Polish paratroopers dropping right into a German-controlled area and being killed even before they hit the ground; and, of course,
Lt Col Frost's valiant defense with units of the British First Airborne Division of one end of Arnhem Bridge, and his stubborn pride, even after being captured.
In this troubled time we live in, this film will serve as a reminder of the price that has to be paid from time to time in order for the free world to maintain that freedom.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Savagery Of War, Realistic Battle Scenes, Sept. 13 2014
By 
James Gallen (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
I had seen “A Bridge Too Far” in the past and watched it again in anticipation of teaching a continuing ed class on World War II- 1944. It never fails to be worthwhile. It tells the story of Operation Market Garden, Gen. Montgomery’s scheme to drop airborne units into Holland, have them capture seven bridges and hold until relieved by ground units advancing up a single highway. Like many other battles, things did not go according to plan. One bridge was destroyed before capture, and a Panzer unit had been pulled back for rest near Arnhem, the last bridge to be captured. Despite advancing through six of the river crossings, the heavy Allied casualties and failure to open the road to Germany’s industrial heartland marked this as the Allies’ major defeat after D-day.

The star studded cast depicts the savagery of war in exciting and reportedly realistic battle scenes. Perhaps the most important theme of the film is nobility in defeat. Despite the failure, the trapped paratroopers and their expected rescuers carried out their duties with determination. Ignored intelligence, unrealistic planning marred the operation from the outset but even at the end the officers had no consensus as to the cause of the failure. Any student of World War II in Europe will want to watch “A Bridge Too Far” again and again.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Poor Picture Quality DVD, Jan. 17 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far (DVD)
I don't think of myself as a "DVD whiner" in that I've never felt cause to complain about the quality of a DVD before. However, I recently purchased "A Bridge Too Far" on DVD and even I noticed the poor quality of the picture. As another viewer noticed there are tiny white scratch blips throughout the movie and the overall picture quality is low- looks very washed-out and aged.
Maybe I am naive, but weren't DVD's supposed to give superior picture and sound performance in comparison to VHS? I purchased a VHS version of "A Bridge Too Far" in 1990 and its picture quality is still higher than my DVD. About the only thing the DVD has over my VHS copy is the fact that it is in widescreen- a big plus when watching this epic movie.
I know "A Bridge Too Far" received mixed reviews and mediocre box-office when it was released in 1977 and that probably ensures that it will never have a big budget, restored, special features galore DVD. However, one would think a movie with its budget and all-star cast would at least be released in DVD with some sort of upgrade as to its picture quality.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great film about a little-known but epic battle, Jan. 9 2004
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far (DVD)
A Bridge Too Far is a long movie, so unless you're truly a WWII film enthusiast, I wouldn't recommend it. However, if you're looking for some insight into one of the lesser-known operations of that bloody conflict, then this movie is great.
Operation Market Garden was an ambitious plan by the brilliant but often arrogant strategist Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, and unfortunately, it cost the lives of many brave soldiers. Although Monty considered the operation a success, it failed to achieve one of its main objectives (the siege of the bridge at Arnhem in Holland), and the casualty rate was unacceptably high. Many of those killed were members of the British 1st Airborne, who were literally fighting tanks with rifles. Col. Frost (played in this film by Anthony Hopkins) and his men fought bravely, but there was no way in Hell that lightly-armed paratroops were going to defeat an SS Panzer division. It also illustrates the slaughter of Polish troops (the Polish general is played by Gene Hackman), who were delayed in landing because of fog, picked off by enemy troops as they parachuted down, and then ambushed by the Germans in a nighttime river assault trying to come to the aid of General Urquhart (Sean Connery), forcing the General to withdraw.
The film is laden with big-name actors, and while it doesn't feature any jazzy modern-day special effects, it focuses on the main issue: the sacrifice of the men who fought in this overly ambitious campaign. The film profiles the mistakes made leading up to the campaign, such as the lack of planning, overlooking of certain obstacles (example: a photo-reconnaissance mission over Holland revealed German tanks, but the Allied high command was so eager to push the campaign forward that they simply ignored them), and the fact that the operation was rushed. The acting is great, but with the cast list that this film has, you wouldn't expect anything less. The film is split up such that no one actor gets the bulk of the attention. It's a great film for history buffs, and reveals the brutal and haunting truth about an operation that Allied forces would like to forget.
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5.0 out of 5 stars They just don't make them like this anymore., Jan. 3 2004
By 
Jon "Jon" (Lawrenceville, GA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far (DVD)
War movies have come and gone by the dozens since this one, but few do what epics as this one did...go all the way.
Today's war movies are full of special effects, closeups and camera tricks that please the eye, but none seem to go to the grand scale that movies such as this and The Longest Day did with their thousands of bodies, tanks, trucks, planes, etc. on the screen...at one time! The blood, guts, gore and pyrotechnics may not be as refined as they are now, but that is nowhere as breathtaking as seeing the thousands of parachutes and planes dot the skies as the operation begins to unfold, as previously stated. Today's films will just give you a few at a time, albeit in greater detail, but it's just not the same.
Aside from all of that, there are plenty of top-notch actors in this movie, easily recognized as it's still not an "old" film, a very good story (it's history folks!) and several focal points so you're never bored with the same settings.
It's a pretty long ride start to finish (3 hours), but was never dull to me. I felt it had a good balance between what went on while on the battlefield, as well as in the command's offices.
If you're a WWII history or movie buff, this one can't be missed. If you just like war movies in general, you won't be disappointed...get it!
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A Bridge Too Far
A Bridge Too Far by Richard Attenboroug (DVD - 2003)
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