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on June 12, 2004
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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on May 10, 2004
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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on April 27, 2004
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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on July 25, 2003
If you like war movies -- and if you don't, why are you reading this?? -- the real question about "Bridge" is whether you feel it is a sluggish, overblown, depressing sequel which is doomed-to-remain-in-the-shadow-of-it's-big-brother, "The Longest Day", or do you think it stands on its own as one of the better WWII movies ever made?
I can definetly see the argument against it. It is slow-moving (in spots), not entirely fair to one of its principal characters (General Browning) and lacks much of the humor (even if it was contrived, Hollywood humor) of "The Longest Day." It is also undeniably depressing. American audiences were not too keen on a movie which ends with the Allies getting their knickers handed to them by the Germans, even if most of those knickers belonged to the British.
Having said that, I believe that "Bridge" is a great and very under-appreciated flick. The cast, with a couple of exceptions, does a fine job. Both Ryan O'Neil and Gene Hackman are totally miscast (I love Gene Hackman, but his horribly fake Polish accent is just embarrassing), but everyone else delivers with impact, and in this movie, 'everyone else' is a literal statement. Like "Longest Day" it is a veritable galaxy of stars, from Sean Connery to Robert Redford, Lawrence Olivier to Anthony Hopkins, from Elliot Gould to Edward Fox to Michael Caine to James Caan, playing various Allied leaders. And let's not forget Maximillian Schell and Hardy Krueger as the principal Germans. The battle scenes are impressive, especially the street fighting between the Red Devils and the guys from 9th SS Panzer division on the Arnhem Bridge, and the river crossing effected by the 82nd Airborne to take Nimijgen Bridge (I know I spelled that wrong, sorry, Dutchmen). Some of the fighting is outrageously brutal, such as when the Polish paratroops jump directly into the German guns or when the Germans try to bully their way across Arnhem bridge and get parboiled in their own vehicles, and in this capacity "Bridge" definetly has it over "Day" which made combat look like a theme-park amusement ride. It also explores the effect clashing armies have on the civilians who get in the way of the fighting, even those civilians who are supposedly being "liberated." The movie's ending reminds me of that quote which was supposedly made in Vietnam by an American officer: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."
In a nutshell, "Bridge" is the story of Field Marshal Montgomery's attempt to bring a sudden end to the European war in the fall of 1944 by crossing the Rhine and taking the Rhur Valley (the "Pittsburgh of the Rhine"....Germany's industrial heartland) by storm. His idea was to lay down a 'carpet' of paratroopers 75 miles from the Allied lines in Holland to the Rhine River (which forms the German-Dutch border), seize the bridge there at Arnhem, and then roll a big army down the 'carpet' and over the bridge into Adolf's home turf. This would have the effect, if you will allow me to mix my metaphors, of driving a stake right through the Third Reich's Heart. For a man who has been accused of being an overcautious, image-conscious, set-piece commander, 'Operation Market Garden' was an incredibly gutsy plan. But as it turned out, it was also an incredibly risky one.
The big problem, pointed out in the movie with droll British wit, is that 'Holland is half underwater' and therefore a pain in the arse to move a modern army across at any speed, much less the breakneck pace perscribed by Monty. The three airborne divisions in question, dropped dozens of miles behind German lines, would have to hold out for days while the army bored through German resistance to link up with them. That was understood. What was less understood was how bad the road system in Holland really was, how unpredictable the fall weather would be, and how hard the Germans would fight once they understood where Monty was going. That, and Murphy's law, which as applied to this film would read: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong....for the British."
Despite this, the plan almost worked. It was doomed by a crucial failure in Allied intelligence, which had failed to pick up on the fact that the Germans had put and entire SS panzer corps in Arnhem to rest and refit. Whoops! The elite British 1st Airborne drops into the city expecting to be met by second-rate rear-echelon troops and ends up fighting two SS panzer divisions instead. As another Brit points out in the film, 'It's hard to stop tanks with rifles and machine guns.' The end result is a sort of Union Jack version of the Alamo, with the gutsy Devils fighting a hopeless battle while waiting in vain for relief that never comes.
In fairness to General Browning, who is presented as the villain of the piece, deliberately ignoring and downplaying the risks of the operation and even arranging for one whistle-blowing subordinate to be sacked for blowing his whistle too hard, my understanding from reading Cornelius Ryan's book (from which this movie was made) was that it was Browning who told Montgomery that trying to take Arnhem on top of the Son and Nimijgen spans was going 'a bridge too far' (his words). Montgomery went ahead anyway, and afterwards claimed that the operation was '90% successful', which is like saying that the only difference between a winner and a loser is who had more points when the time ran out. In Arnhem, in September, 1944, time ran out for Montgomery, and it was one of the finest groups of fighting men who ever lived who paid the price.
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on June 13, 2003
A Bridge Too Far is a huge epic movie detailing the preparation and execution of the biggest paratrooper invasion in history, Operation Market Garden. In an effort to end the war sooner, the Allied High Command plans an attack that will drop thousands of paratroopers behind enemy lines and then send the armour in to meet up with them and take over several strategic German positions. The film does at times try to do to much, but it still maintains a sense of reality and how futile the whole plan actually was. There are excellent action sequences, fairly graphic for the time, very good cast, and a musical score that will stick in your head for several days.
A Bridge Too Far boasts an excellent cast full of big name stars. The movie stars Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Hardy Kruger, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O'Neal, Robert Redford, Maximilian Schell and Liv Ullmann. While all of them are pretty good, James Caan sticks out as the sergeant who promises his lieutenant that he won't let him die, and Anthony Hopkins as the leader of the paratroopers trapped in Arnhem. Based on the novel by Cornelius Ryan, this is a very good movie that does succeed in doing many things that it set out to do. The DVD is very good with widescreen presentation, original theatrical trailer, and an 8-page booklet included. Excellent World War II epic! Check it out!
Also, look for John Ratzenberger, Cliff from Cheers, in a small role as one of Robert Redford's men. Look fast because he doesn't survive for very long.
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on February 10, 2003
This review refers to the MGM DVD edition of "A Bridge Too Far"....
In September of 1944, shortly after the success of the Normandy Invasion, allied troops were eager to put an end to WWII. A huge operation was planned called "Operation Market Garden". 35,000 men were sent by land and air to take the vital bridges and stop the Germans cold. They were led by some of the finest officers the American and British forces could offer.It seemed like a plan that couldn't fail. But it did. Due to many unforeseen circumstances, the German's gained the upper hand, and the operation turned disastrous. Many lives were lost in what was probably one of the worst defeats of the war.
The film is an excellent retelling of the actual events that occured(based on a book by Cornelius Ryan).It is a riveting story, directed by Richard Attenborough, with a screenplay by William Goldman.The film is overflowing with big names. It stars Sean Connerey, Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Edward Fox, Elliot Gould, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O'Neal, Robert Redford, Maximillan Schell and Liv Ullman!
So all these great stars and an excellent war story, why only four stars from me? I had just a couple of little problems with it.
First, is that there are so many big stars, that their screen time was very limited.It was difficult to really get to know the important charceters they played. Laurence Olivier and Liv Ullmann didn't even make it into the story until about the 2 hour mark(the film runs about 3 hours), and Robert Redford about the 2:10 mark. The other thing is that, the story is a very complicated one, and at times(on first viewing) I wasn't sure who was supposed to be where, doing what, and when.But those things aside, it IS a great story and an important event of WWII, that is well worth viewing that 2nd or 3rd time.I would reccommend it to anyone who loves war movies, especially those based on true stories.
If this is a film you already know you want and are wondering about the DVD, it is generally a good transfer of this 1977 film by MGM. For the most part it presented a clear and sharp picture in the widescreen format. There were times it seemed a bit grainy but it was nothing to distract from the viewing pleasure. The sound also was good in the Stereo surround but with all the action probably could be great remastered in 5.1 surround.It may be viewed in French(Mono) or with subtitles in English or French. The only extra on the disc itself is the Orginal Theatrical Trailer, but it does come with a very informative booklet that talks about the operation itself, and also the making of the film(probably a good idea to read this first if you've never seen the film).
Oh and don't forget to look for John Ratzenberger(Cliff, from "Cheers") in a soldier's uniform this time. You'll see him shortly after Redford makes his first appearance!
Thanks and enjoy....Laurie
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on February 3, 2003
When I was ten years of age, my mother's uncle gave me his copy of Cornelius Ryan's A Bridge Too Far book. This was a very special gift from him, since he has been deported to Germany to work for the Reich during WWII and never recovered mentaly from what had happened to him. At the time I got the book, he was living in a small village, some miles west of Arnhem, on the southbank of the Rijn river. Obvious, I was to young to read the book at that time.
Over the years my interest in WWII and operation Market Garden started to grow, and every time A Bridge Too Far was broadcast, I watched it. The scenes depicting the drops of the paratroopers and the Waal river assault were the ones mostly remembered. That, and the great musical score by John Addison.
I finaly bought the DVD, and watched it a few times since. I must say that with every time I watch it, the movie gets better and better. Especially with the close captions: first those specifying at which location we are. Without these, one could get confused at where the viewer was brought from one scene to another. Secondly, since English is not my native language, I got to understand some of the dialogues more better. (Finaly got to understand what Liv was trying to say in Dutch =)
The widescreen option is fantastic. You really get into the battle scenes and to see all the extra imagery... for example when John Frost's batalion is entering Arnhem, you see people riding on bikes in the background, which you can't see in the pan and scan version.
But with such a great medium as DVD, and also with the movies 25th anniversary last year, MGM and United Artists missed out on a great chance. It is a shame the only extra is the original theatrical trailer. I really would have liked to see extra behind the scene footage included on a second disc. The Dutch Broadcasting Company (NOS) must have a lot of file footage, I remember the news broadcast often spending time on the filming on the movie, such as the re-enacted droppings. Beside that footage, the studio must have extra footage as well. They could even produce a new documantary on filming this movie, including interviews with the main actors and Sir Richard Attenborough. And how about original footage and notes on the battle as it took place?
Despite this miss, it is still a must buy if you're into war and/or classic movies. After 25 years it still holds it's own, and still is a thrill to watch. Buy it, and meanwhile keep hoping for a DVD special edition.
I give this DVD 4 stars, but if they had included the extra material, it would easily get 5 stars!
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on April 15, 2002
...And that's the way it should be. War is not a movie, in which one person stars, and everyone else is the supporting cast. War is about teamwork, and ABTF showed it. There were plenty of big names in the cast, but no one stood out. It was probably meant to be that way, and that's what made the movie great.
Some of the scenes seemed to be reenacted quite faithfully, especially the Arnhem Bridge battle scene in which the German attempt to storm the British position was turned back.
The equipment is pretty authentic, although most Shermans were short-barreled, and I can't pick out what type of fighter-bombers the Allies used. I am impressed by how the makers of the film managed to scrape together such a collection.
The acting (unlike Saving Private Ryan, for example) is more dramatic than realistic. The blood and gore have been limited (like when the old lady walks out into the street and gets shot, but you don't see any bullet holes in her), but then this movie came out 25 years ago.
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on February 1, 2002
Considering the number of other reviews for this title, I will keep this brief. I'd recommend browsing other reviews too.
I saw the movie for the first time on this DVD. I originally got interested in this title because of Sean Connery. As I scanned the DVD case, I began noticing other names - Gene Hackman, Elliot Gould, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier (which was a shock), Robert Redford, and Maximilian Schell. At this point, I had to get it.
I loved this movie. Plain and simple. I also found the way certain people died to be interesting - even ironic at times. Some scenes showed how senseless some of the deaths were.
One actor bugged me - Ryan O'Neal. I don't like him in this movie. I don't care for his acting style. He doesn't come across as real. I kept wanting to compare him to Buster Crabbe who starred in the old Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers serials.
The booklet inside the DVD case has some nice trivia information.
The subtitle selection bugged me on this DVD. I'm used to Japanese Anime DVDs where I can easily change the language and subtitles while the movie is playing. This is locked out on this DVD, forcing you to go to the menu to change the settings. least on my player. I'm guessing this was to make things less confusing for the average user. For example, there are two different sets of English subtitles - one that only translates the German dialogue while the other provides subtitles for all dialogue. I sometimes watch DVDs late at night so I like using subtitles so I don't disturb others in the house. That's why I pay close attention to these type of features. Something about my setup seems to interfere with the closed captions. I just started noticing it with multiple DVDs so I don't know what might be up. I can't say it's a defect of the DVD right now.
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on January 29, 2002
If you're looking for one of those rare war movies that really emphasizes historical accuracy without sacrificing great action, this is it. The movie is based on Cornelius Ryan's bestselling book by the same name, and recounts the ill-fated Allied efforts to capture the Arnhem bridge. The phrase "all star cast" is a gross understatement. Tons of great actors and acting in this flick.
I personally enjoyed the account of the river assault at Nijmegen bridge led by Major Julian Cook (played by Robert Redford). This and other scenes were riveting in their intensity and very satisfying to the historian in me for their attempt to portray the action as it occurred.
I guess my only criticisms would be the length of the movie (which can't really be avoided if this story is to be told properly), and Gene Hackman's god-awful fake Polish accent (he played Sosabowski). Overall, though, it's a very good movie and I recommend it highly for anyone who is historically interested in this battle, or who simply wants a few hours of solid entertainment.
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