A Bridge Too Far (1977)

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Director: Richard Attenborough
Cast: 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, Liv Ullmann, Arthur Hill, Wolfgang Preiss

Synopsis

In September 1944 the Allies under Montgomery devise a plan to cut off the German retreat and secure their industrial base by seizing a series of bridgeheads behind enemy lines, culminating in that across the Rhine at Arnhem. Unfortunately the high command ignores Dutch underground reports of Panzer divisions in the area and the operation is mounted hastily without adequate equipment.

The Review

The last of the big-budget all-star WW2 epics, like The Longest Day before it, features several faces with nothing much to do, as well as incidental sequences which seem to have been written for them. It does, however, have sufficient time for strategy to be of interest to the armchair historian, as opposed to the seeker of effective drama, and employs a trenchant irony towards its wargamers typical of its director, though the music, and perhaps the film's producer, Joe Levine, cannot help striking the odd jingoistic pose in sequences like the mass aircraft departure and that of the armoured brigade. (The prevailing revisionist/documentary purpose would have been better served, however, had the makers used titles to identify the numerous locations, present in the DVD version.) The gore and lack of glory was a new development in the genre - at this level of production - and was to be taken further by Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan.