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Jon Zelazny
Los Angeles, CA, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 72
http://jonzelazny.com
A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/3/2017 3:16:17 AM
Funny, I was sure I'd seen this movie several times on TV in the early eighties, but watching a DVD this week, I realized I'd never seen a lot of the first hour, nor any of the third.

What didn't change was my youthful impression that it's tough to follow. So many bridges, so many skirmishes, so many movie stars, but the one storytelling device it lacks are close-ups of maps. Every time he cuts to a famous face, Attenborough should have them indicating their positions along that line-drive toward Arnhem. You simply can't tell where all the scenes are unfolding in relation to one another. (In contrast, see how well Ridley Scott handled the same problem in BLACK HAWK DOWN.)

BRIDGE also kind of shoots itself in the foot dramatically when you know from the face of every unit commander that the op is unlikely to succeed. Given this set-up, you expect the story will show how all these determined leaders adapt to changing conditions and overcome their various setbacks. When it became clear-- in really, only the last fifteen minutes-- that all hope is lost, I sat there wondering why anyone thought this particular strategic boondoggle was worth investing a zillion bucks in. If the takeaway is that overly optimistic planning can lead to disaster on the battlefield-- ala THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON-- the film needed to better depict the cause of that over-optimism. Merely having Dirk Bogarde sputter, "Because I said so!" isn't enough to set a story of this scale in motion.

Still, tons of fun seeing every great seventies Hollywood face in one movie. Most acquit themselves well, though Robert Redford looks a bit blow-dried for 1944, Gene Hackman looks like he drew a short straw to play the Polish guy, and poor Ryan O'Neal is just god-awful.

---------------
Z

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3514

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/3/2017 4:22:56 AM
 As I recall the film, some of the music seemed offbeat considering the subject matter. The film left no clue of what subsequently occurred. The Arnhem salient became a problematic extension of the front line for Allied armies that had not yet mastered their logistics difficulties and who did not yet have enough divisions in theater to afford the retention of salients that led practically nowhere. But retained it was, with the help of the U.S. airborne divisions that were not pulled out until months later and which had barely begun to recover when the Battle of the Bulge opened.

 In the film, one realizes the British airborne division is sacrificed, but again, in terms of the subsequent campaigning, the effect of that loss hardly registered. During the Rhine crossing, another large airborne operation took place ... and another British airborne division jumped in with considerably more success than the Arnhem landings. It seems to me the film saw fit to depict various events, but there was no explanation of how they fit into the larger campaign or what their true significance was.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

wazza
Sydney , Australia
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 353

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/3/2017 4:34:26 AM
I love the film, but yes maybe an extended cut is required.
Sadly when it first come out in Oz, the choice of this or Disney's The Swiss Family Robinson with my little sister saw Disney win out.
I think even Dad regretted that choice.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5694

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/3/2017 7:35:10 AM
I liked it too though it was a bit long.

The clogging of the road to Arnhem was factual but it is difficult to make a traffic jam look exciting.

I am thinking back many years now but I recall being upset at the scene of Brits brewing tea which is the theme always used when it is time to portray the British army as slow plodders.

The viewer who didn't have a basic understanding of the purpose behind the mission and where the US and British forces were headed, was at a disadvantage.

Hard to compare it to Black Hawk Down which in comparison to Market Garden was a rather limited and minor attempt to secure supply routes. It too was an abject failure though the US forces took a toll upon the Somali gangs.

As well, Scott is an expert at creating visual displays using modern technology and he did a great job at that.

Example, the shots from spotter planes in the sky with heat seeking capability. Not available when "Bridge" was made.

But Black Hawk Down was criticized, even in the US as a jingoistic display featuring nearly 100% white actors on the US side.

It was an action film to me, more than anything. And it was more about what it was like to be in combat rather than an historical account like A Bridge Too Far.


SJ
Belfast N Ireland, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Posts: 697

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/3/2017 1:40:52 PM
In September 1984, I watched the movie in Arnhem with the remnants of the Airborne Old Comrades on a Holts Military tour.

All were critical of the cowardly Lord Carrington who preferred to get pissed in his tank, rather than press on to Arnhem.

With the distances involved, the narrow front, the poor support weapons - and, in the case of Arnhem - the incredible distance from DZ to primary objective, Operation Market Garden was remarkable to achieve what it did.

morris crumley
Lawrenceville, GA, USA
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Posts: 1292

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/3/2017 6:47:19 PM
I don`t mind the film all that much. But, there is a lot to criticize.

Speaking as if some film critic...the score of the movie was absolutely awful.

Obviously, the producers (or financiers) of the project wanted big-name "movie star types" in order to attract bigger box office, which leads to a situation where you kinda get popped out of the reality of the story every time another "star" shows up. (Yet another military role where Redford refused to get a GI cut of his golden locks.)

As for the actual operation the film portrays, it does stand pretty well for showing an irretrievably stupid plan that was more about moxy and being bold..than about little things like, logistics, planning, timing, proper support, and basic realistic intelligence interpretation. A high risk, high reward failure that got a lot of good men killed for little gain.

Respects, Morris
---------------
"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."

Jon Zelazny
Los Angeles, CA, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 72
http://jonzelazny.com
Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/4/2017 3:00:55 AM
Yes, now that you gents mention it, some of the music cues did strike me as weirdly off.

My comparison to BLACK HAWK is simply that both films depict multiple points of view within a battle, which is more difficult to tell coherently than a war movie that follows one man, like PATTON, or a small unit.

Ridley Scott actually has the more difficult job: his troops are mostly dressed the same, and all the scenes take place within the same urban hellhole. To keep the audience in the loop, he constantly cuts back to the command and control officers, who provide a running commentary on where everybody is and where they need to be going, while the various ground units also keep referring to each other, both visually and in dialogue. The audience doesn't get bored with it because Scott keeps his scenes short and tight, and his overall pacing is much faster.

This command of physical orientation marks one difference between a relatively new director and an old master; BRIDGES being Attenborough's third film, while BLACK HAWK was Scott's thirteenth.
---------------
Z

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3514

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/4/2017 1:22:08 PM
I sat there wondering why anyone thought this particular strategic boondoggle was worth investing a zillion bucks in.

Jon,

 I assume here you refer to the film and not the military operation itself. My take is that someone in Hollywood had enjoyed, or was impressed with the success of, THE LONGEST DAY. What TLD and BRIDGE have in common is that they were based upon books by Cornelius Ryan. And so, perhaps someone thought that BRIDGE would also be a big success. The other option was Ryan's book about the fight for Berlin, "The Last Battle" ... but that would have depicted the Soviets versus the Germans, and in the 1970s, both of those armies were viewed dubiously in the USA ... so would the audience have found anyone sympathetic in such a film? "Oh look, there's Marshal Zhukov ... he's a brutal Red Army warlord ... but what a likable man!"

Cheers,

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2596

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/4/2017 4:07:24 PM
Richard Attenborough directed this film.

He liked to portray the military leadership in an unflattering light : it was only eight years earlier that he had given us Oh what a Lovely War ! ....need I say more ?

Attenborough loved this kind of thing : pampered nincompoops in the top brass ; prescient subordinates who try to dissuade them from their mad cap adventures...above all, it endorsed his flirtation with the " luvvie left"....the poor soldiers carry the can for the upper class fools who sacrifice them.

It's all a bit rich, really.

But there were some fine aspects to the film. The depiction of Horrocks was one of them ; the vignette of Model deciding that the entire offensive was aimed at capturing him was another .

The battle scenes worked well.

I saw the film when it came out...hard to believe forty years have passed.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Jon Zelazny
Los Angeles, CA, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 72
http://jonzelazny.com
Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/4/2017 4:16:55 PM
I agree, Bill. Cornelius Ryan's bestseller status was undoubtedly the cornerstone of international wheeler-dealer Joseph E. Levine's mega production.

There's one gigantic difference between THE LONGEST DAY and BRIDGE, of course: even housewives went into that first movie with some familiarity with D-Day, and more importantly, knowing the good guys ultimately won. But unless they'd read the book, I can't imagine too many moviegoers went to A BRIDGE TOO FAR with any notion of Operation Market Garden, or that the "twist ending" is that it was a total failure. Even though none of the featured stars die, the feeling of futility and waste Attenborough leaves you with is just crushing. The audience emerges from the ordeal the same way the traumatized Laurence Olivier and Liv Ullmann go trudging off into a bleak and hopeless sunrise.
---------------
Z

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2957

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/4/2017 4:53:50 PM
[Read More]
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

gettysburgerrn
massapequa, NY, USA
top 40
E-4 Corporal


Posts: 97

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/5/2017 5:52:18 AM
Idon't know...in spite of all of the criticisms I enjoyed this movie immensely (especially some of the airborne shots).....probably makes me member of a true minority group...minorities are more comfortable in silence...... lol

KEn
---------------
"You will find a great many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our own point of view...." Obi Wan Kenobi

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2596

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/5/2017 2:01:52 PM

Quote:
I sat there wondering why anyone thought this particular strategic boondoggle was worth investing a zillion bucks in.

Jon,

 I assume here you refer to the film and not the military operation itself. My take is that someone in Hollywood had enjoyed, or was impressed with the success of, THE LONGEST DAY. What TLD and BRIDGE have in common is that they were based upon books by Cornelius Ryan. And so, perhaps someone thought that BRIDGE would also be a big success. The other option was Ryan's book about the fight for Berlin, "The Last Battle" ... but that would have depicted the Soviets versus the Germans, and in the 1970s, both of those armies were viewed dubiously in the USA ... so would the audience have found anyone sympathetic in such a film? "Oh look, there's Marshal Zhukov ... he's a brutal Red Army warlord ... but what a likable man!"

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson


Bill,

Remember Cross of Iron ?

That gave a purely German perspective with the soviet hordes charging like banshees behind their monstrous tanks !

A very hyped up film, that somehow managed to work.

IIRC, this predated BRIDGE by several years, but I think it speaks for a widening discernment of WW2 that audiences weaned on John Wayne were beginnng to look beyond Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima for their big screen perceptions of the war.

Edit : I see that I'm mistaken : Cross of Iron was also released in 1977.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3514

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/6/2017 2:42:13 AM
Phil,

 Yes, I recall CROSS. James Coburn was IMO the hero for the producers of the film as well; attempts to make other films about the German sergeant character fell flat later on. I wonder if part of the reason Coburn came across to American audiences is that his portrayal of an NCO struck me more as American NCO of the 1940s era than a Wehrmacht one.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2596

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/6/2017 5:49:30 AM

Quote:
Phil,

 Yes, I recall CROSS. James Coburn was IMO the hero for the producers of the film as well; attempts to make other films about the German sergeant character fell flat later on. I wonder if part of the reason Coburn came across to American audiences is that his portrayal of an NCO struck me more as American NCO of the 1940s era than a Wehrmacht one.

Cheers

BW
--BWilson


Yes ! That's a discerning assessment of Coburn's attraction, Bill.

He rather resembled Lee Marvin in the BIG RED ONE.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2957

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/6/2017 9:13:55 AM

Quote:

Quote:
I sat there wondering why anyone thought this particular strategic boondoggle was worth investing a zillion bucks in.

Jon,

 I assume here you refer to the film and not the military operation itself. My take is that someone in Hollywood had enjoyed, or was impressed with the success of, THE LONGEST DAY. What TLD and BRIDGE have in common is that they were based upon books by Cornelius Ryan. And so, perhaps someone thought that BRIDGE would also be a big success. The other option was Ryan's book about the fight for Berlin, "The Last Battle" ... but that would have depicted the Soviets versus the Germans, and in the 1970s, both of those armies were viewed dubiously in the USA ... so would the audience have found anyone sympathetic in such a film? "Oh look, there's Marshal Zhukov ... he's a brutal Red Army warlord ... but what a likable man!"

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson


Bill,

Remember Cross of Iron ?

That gave a purely German perspective with the soviet hordes charging like banshees behind their monstrous tanks !

A very hyped up film, that somehow managed to work.

IIRC, this predated BRIDGE by several years, but I think it speaks for a widening discernment of WW2 that audiences weaned on John Wayne were beginnng to look beyond Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima for their big screen perceptions of the war.

Edit : I see that I'm mistaken : Cross of Iron was also released in 1977.

Regards , Phil
--Phil andrade




Guys,

Cross of Iron, trailer!

[Read More]
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

morris crumley
Lawrenceville, GA, USA
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Posts: 1292

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/13/2017 7:37:29 PM
This thread got me checking out and looking up stuff about "Market Garden" and I discovered something actually quite fascinating in terms of military media and film.

There was a film called "Their`s Is The Glory" made about the 1st. British Airborne and the battle of Arnhem. What is interesting is that the film was made and produced just after the war, and was released in 1946.
What`s so damn interesting? The film was made in Arnhem the year after the battle there...and many of the men who portray the 1st Airborne troops in the movie...were the actual soldiers themselves.

Has there ever been a film made about war, or a battle, that was made utilizing the still destroyed buildings that had not as yet been rebuilt..and staring many of the soldiers themselves?

Of course the bridge did not exist at the time. It was destroyed, repaired, then bombed and destroyed completely in the months after the battle. In the film it was kinda painted into the film negatives, but the rest of the rubble and destroyed places...were the actual ruins of Arnhem.

[Read More] "Their`s Is The Glory" 1946..... There is also a youtube video that says " Revisiting the Locations of Operation Market Garden" that show the images of the 1946 film, and the actual places today.

Thanks Jon for stirring up an interest in this story.

Respects, Morris
---------------
"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2596

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/14/2017 5:27:12 PM
Morris,

The name of the film escapes my memory, but I'm sure that a French film about WW1 made lavish use of soldiers who had only a year or two earlier been under fire.

I might have understated the actual poignancy of this....I think it might have been a story that was made during the war itself, with the added tragedy that some of the men who acted were themselves to be killed in the real thing.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

morris crumley
Lawrenceville, GA, USA
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Posts: 1292

Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/17/2017 6:36:51 PM
Phil, I had to look it up. Your right.

The French film "J`accuse" was made in Aug. 1918-March 1919, utilizing actual battle film taken during that time. The film was made by Abel Gance who was in the French Army and filming war action at the time he got the idea. He filmed a drama he had written that takes place among the carnage of the war.
For the final act of the film, a section called "the return of the dead" he used some 2000 French soldiers who were on leave. They had come straight from Verdun, were due back on the front in eight days, and within weeks some eighty percent of them were killed in combat.

Respects, Morris
---------------
"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."

Jon Zelazny
Los Angeles, CA, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 72
http://jonzelazny.com
Re: A Bridge Too Far - 1977 film
Posted on: 9/19/2017 3:38:12 PM
Thanks, Morris.

The most bizarre example I've seen that sort of fits in this category was the recent documentary THE ACT OF KILLING, which began as a series of interviews with the gangsters hired by the Indonesian government in the mid-sixties to "liquidate" their opposition.

Since that same government is still in power, the former death squad leaders are accorded great respect, and many were proud to talk openly of their exploits. For some of them, however, talking wasn't enough. Excited by the prospect of "making a movie," several took it upon themselves to create dramatic scenes of past operations. In the most chilling episode, a group returns in force to the same small village they terrorized fifty years earlier, where they cajole the locals into playing their own forebears for the cameras.

I attended a screening with one of the directors, who swore up and down he and his crew in no way coached these scenes. The killers developed their own ideas and instructed the crews how to film them. The one thing that saves the project from utter nihilism is that one of the old guys-- only one, mind you-- begins to suffer pangs of guilt, and you see him start to slowly come apart.

You often hear about "the banality of evil." This film makes the case that there's also "a flamboyance of evil."
---------------
Z

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