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Set during the Korean War, a Navy fighter pilot must come to terms with with his own ambivalence towards the war and the fear of having to bomb a set of highly defended bridges. The ending of this grim war drama is all tension. Written by
KC Hunt <email@example.com>
Loosely based on the story of the VF-51 naval aviators, of which astronaut Neil Armstrong was a member. See more »
Early in the film, when Forney approaches Brubaker's crashed plane, Forney tells the pilot of 210 to head back to the aircraft carrier. The pilot of 210 is heard saying "Roger" but his mouth never moves. See more »
The famous Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer, Ted Williams, must have had a grimly ironic appreciation of The Bridges at Toko-Ri when this film came out. After serving in the Marines in World War II, Williams was called back to the Marines for the Korean War and for the better part of two years flew the jets that you see Bill Holden flying here in the Navy.
Just as the Korean War interrupted one of the best baseball careers of the last century in real life, in this film William Holden is recalled from a thriving law practice in Denver, Colorado, not to mention from his lovely wife Grace Kelly and their two children. He flies carrier based jets bombing targets in the Korean War wondering like Ted Williams what he did in life to get called for two wars.
A few years earlier Warner Brothers did a fine film called Task Force which depicted the history of naval aviation through the eyes of its protagonist, Gary Cooper. The history went as far as the end of World War II and we were still flying propeller planes.
Maybe today's viewer can identify with a film like Top Gun where the skills are now a learned routine. But the Korean War was the first fought with jet aircraft and pilots had to really learn and develop new skills to take off and land on an aircraft at supersonic speed. Everyone, even the Russians, were all new at this in 1950 when the Korean War started.
Some critics have said Grace Kelly was wasted in this part, basically doing a role June Allyson perfected. Actually if you pay close attention, she's not terribly different from her role as housewife and mother in The Country Girl where she got her Oscar. She's just married to someone different is all. She has a very effective scene with her husband's commander Admiral Fredric March when she flies to Japan to be with Holden, taking along their two children.
My favorite in this film however is Mickey Rooney. He plays a helicopter rescue pilot and we first meet him and his co-pilot Earl Holliman rescuing Holden from the deep blue sea. Rooney is an irreverent sort, on duty with a green scarf and green top hat, looking like one of the little craitures from Ireland. Quick to brawl, but a real friend when you need one, I love his philosophy that you can say anything to officers as long as you put a sir on the end of it. There weren't going to be too many promotions in his future.
The Bridges at Toko-Ri is filled with a lot of Cold War nostrums and dated in that respect for today's audience. But it is a great tribute to those jet pilots, the crews that supported them, and the families that loved them, trying out those new skills in a brand new kind of war.
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