The Bridge At Remagen (Widescreen)
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Fine casting, rugged characters, and authentic military detail make The Bridge at Remagen one of the best World War II action films of the 1960s. Based on actual incidents during the final Allied advance on Germany in March 1945, the story focuses on the U.S. Army's exhausted 27th Armored Infantry, assigned to seize the bridge at Remagen, on the Rhine River, to prevent 50,000 German troops from retreating to safety. Lieutenant Hartman (George Segal) leads the mission, while a Nazi major (Robert Vaughan) defies orders by attempting to hold the bridge instead of blowing it up. With strong emphasis on war's harsher realities, the film features compelling characters who illustrate the camaraderie of survivors and the heroism of mavericks in the thick of battle. Segal and Ben Gazzara effectively convey a hard-won friendship, and the film's dynamic action (filmed in Czechoslovakia and Italy) never overwhelms the story's emotional impact. Highly recommended. --Jeff Shannon
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Movie is labeled MGM Classic. I received the movie in good order.
Top international reviews
The film begins by showing two very different groups of combatants before they fight at Remagen. An American mechanized company, serving as an advance/reconnaissance element of a whole division, just lost its captain and is now commanded by Lieutenant Hartman (George Segal) - he barely has the time to take charge, when he receives orders to advance to Rhine and seize the town of Remagen, expected to be only lightly defended. In the same time on other side of the Rhine a certain Major Paul Kreuger (Robert Vaughn) is charged with the defense of Remagen with only a handful real soldiers, supported by some Volksturm and Hitlerjugend auxiliaries. He must especially defend the most crucial local installation - the Ludendorff Bridge. However, by special order of Hitler himself, bridges on Rhine can be destroyed only at the last moment, to allow a maximum of German troops to escape from the Western side. This, together with the small number of soldiers and weak quality of explosives Kreuger receives, will transform this small engagement into an event of monumental strategic importance - and a great, dramatic story...
As already said, the scenario is BRILLIANT, with strong dialogs, great tension, lots of heartbreak and even though we know how the story will end the film never bores the viewer, even for one second. Fighting scenes are very strong, amongst the best of those ever made before the "Saving Private Ryan" era. Actors are AMAZING - Segal and Vaughn shine in this film but THE star is Ben Gazzara, who plays Sergeant Angelo, an incredibly dangerous warrior but also a character shady as f*ck.
A particularly powerful element is the description of everything that happens on German side. The shadow of omnipresent terror maintained by the SS, SD and Gestapo casts a veil even on the full noon sunshine. The director managed also to recreate perfectly the general atmosphere of Gotterdammerung, especially perceptible in the terminal exhaustion of German civilians crushed by five years of sacrifices rewarded only by the looming threat of unavoidable defeat.
A very strong element is that there is no clichés of "stupid generals, stupid officers". There is only one recless officer in the film and very logically he meets a quick death; all others, including highest ranking hierarchy on both sides, act logically and with dignity, doing their duty. The fatal weaknesses on German side, which allow Americans to make an attempt to seize the bridge, are lack of sufficient number of soldiers and insufficient supplies, not the failure of command.
The incredible courage of American soldiers and desperate determination of the handful of German defenders which made this battle so tough and heartbreaking is very, very well shown. This film is quite frequently very moving.
Bottom line, this is a very good war movie, a very good recreation of a significant real event, a good history lesson on WWII in Europe and also the nature of III Reich and last but not least a darn good film. I really wish that present day directors could take some lessons from John Guillermin. I am very glad that I bought and saw this film and I will totally keep the DVD for another viewing. ENJOY!