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The mission is clear and straight: to destroy completely the vital
Korean bridges at Toko-Ri in order to frustrate enemy actions...
The film is a competent work and meritorious tribute to the heroism of the Jet-Bomber pilots (William Holden and Charles McGraw) and the extreme courage of the helicopter rescue service (Mickey Rooney and Earl Holliman).
'Where do we get such men,' affirms Rear Admiral George Tarran from the bridge of the aircraft carrier, and he was right!
The film exposes a close observation of the men's minds, their attitudes, their families, the tragedy of war, and the fascinating danger of the Jet-Bombers take-off and landing...
Charles G. Clarke's aerial photography in color of the Jet planes is simply spectacular...
Fredric March as the Admiral is staunch and human, and William Holden perfect as the American soldier fighting man... Grace Kelly flourished with her beauty the splendor of the picture...
Based on James E. Michener's novel, this ambitious action thriller is a cut above the usual war tragedy with impressive statements to make about war, death and politics...
This is a truly superb film on any number of grounds. First, and generally unknown, it is based on a real incident, the so called "Battle of Carlson's Canyon" which was waged early in the Korean War in an attempt to interdict North Korean supplies on their way to the front. James Michener had gone out to the carrier ESSEX (CV-9) and had been very impressed with the men of VF-172, a Banshee fighter squadron. The book is astonishingly realistic...if one compares what he wrote as a novel with the contemporary Navy strike reports (which were then highly classified), it is amazing how much he got "right." It is also a good look at carrier aviation in the last days of the "straight-deck" carrier with hydraulic catapults and a paddle-waving landing deck officer...all that disappeared after Korea with the introduction of the angled deck, the steam catapult, and the Fresnel-lens mirror landing system. The book is in my view the finest air war novel ever written, bar none, and the movie is the same for the film genre. Incidentally, when made into a film, Grumman Panthers were used in place of Banshees, and one of the pilots who flew in the making of the film was a very young Lt. j.g. named Alan Shepherd--later one of the Mercury and Apollo astronauts. Not to be missed!!!
The Korean War is the setting for `The Bridges At Toko-Ri,' a story of individual sacrifice and the high cost of freedom, from director Mark Robson. Navy fighter-pilot Harry Brubaker (William Holden), a veteran of World War II, is called to serve again when the conflict in Korea escalates, which takes him away from his wife, Nancy (Grace Kelly), two young children and a successful law practice. When his plane goes down after a mission, into the sea just short of the carrier, he survives; but he bitterly questions the fairness of what he has been asked to do, while everyone back home is able to go on with the routine of their lives, uninterrupted. Rear Admiral George Tarrant (Fredric March), a man who has had his own share of personal tragedy (he looks upon Brubaker as the son he has lost to the war, himself), tells Brubaker it's a matter of distance; we do this because we're here; back home they're only doing just as you would be doing if you were there. When Brubaker is granted shore leave, strings are pulled, and arrangements are made for Nancy and the children to join him; a brief respite, after which he must return to face his most formidable challenge yet, flying against the bridges that span the canyons at Toko-Ri. Very probably a suicide mission, it is nevertheless believed that knocking out these particular bridges could bring about a turning point in the war, and Lieutenant Brubaker is called upon once again to play a pivotal roll in deciding the outcome. An excellent supporting cast ably brings to life the characters that infuse this drama with humanity. Mickey Rooney is unforgettable as Mike Forney, the fighting, Irish helicopter pilot who fishes Brubaker out of the sea when his plane crashes. Memorable as well are Earl Holliman (Nestor Gamidge, Forney's partner), Robert Strauss (Beer Barrel), Charles McGraw (Commander Wayne Lee), Keiko Awaji (Kimiko) and Willis bouchey (Captain Evans). An excellent precursor to the more recent `Saving Private Ryan,' and `U-571,' `The Bridges At Toko-Ri' is an intimate study of individual courage and responsibility, and of the moral fortitude of which man is capable in times of crisis. There is a finality to the climax of this film that underscores the intense personal aspects of the larger conflict, and of the price demanded by certain individuals chosen to fulfill a seemingly random destiny. At the end of the movie, Admiral Tarrant sums it up succinctly when he ponders aloud: `Where do we get such men?' To which we can only answer: Where, indeed. I rate this one 9/10.
I served with Task Force 77 in November 1952 on a destroyer running anti-submarine and mine detection for those floating "bird farms". I also put in 30 years working with Naval Aviation logistics; this movie is an excellent look at carrier operations in the jet age. I recommend it to all who are interested in aviation, especially naval aviation. The one thing not depicted is the problems experienced by the destroyers in heavy weather as the carriers turned into the wind and out of the wind during flight operations, especially during chow times. This could probably be shown in a separate movie, but I still have vivid memories of my ship diving into the sea and the foam combing over the flying bridge and down both sides of my ship. Trying to log sack time during these times was also an experience unto itself. Incidentally we did lose on fly boy as a result of his ditching. We were told that exposure of more than 5 minutes in those waters could prove fatal, and this guy's case it was so. Not a happy time.
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
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't say enough good about this movie.It was made for its time. The public needed to be shown what it meant to be part of the military. What could be squandered without realizing how quickly one could lose that which was so prized. There is always a price to be paid. Its not until the true value of ones life is realized will one come to fully value the life they have to live. This movie presents this realism to us. Its not always the perfect presentation. But, then again what is in the real world. I would suggest however, that one reads Micheners' Book, The Bridges at Toko-Rio, before seeing the movie. More insight might be gained beforehand. The novel only adds to the movie. This movie was made when America was at its zenith in its place in the world. America stood alone as the first superpower. As yet unchallenged, but soon to be by the very nation whose personnel manned the planes, guns and radar stations seeking any incoming planes onto Korean airspace. Still, even though the hero dies in the doing, he still dies while doing something considered noble, worth dying for. Even the hero's wife, who agonizes over the whys and wherefores of her husband being part of something most of America has no idea is even happening. And, the hero is not even an enlisted man. He volunteered. He shouldn't even be there! Before seeing the movie, read the book. The movie was great.
This is an exceptional picture, which clearly depicts the personal difficulties, particularly which Fighter Pilots must endure in times of combat. Mr Holden and Grace Kelly give fine portrayals of the young married couple, who must overcome the obstacles of a dangerous mission--A certain bombing Raid ( mentioned in the title) As the left behind wife, Kelly does a wonderful job, showing empathy for her husband, concern for herself, etc, and Holden is equally compelling as a troubled aviator in a difficult situation--All in all a fine Movie--good performances all around. T(W) G.
A couple of years before he made film history with "The Bridge On The River Kwai" William Holden starred in this rather little known Korean War drama, one of the first to be released shortly after the war. Not too many films about the Korean War get made and this is one of the best of a very few. Holden portrays a lawyer who is ordered by the Navy to do his part for the war in bombing missions. A better known cast including Grace Kelly, Fredric March, Mickey Rooney and Earl Holliman costars with Holden (besides Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa, Holden's supporting cast in "The Bridge On The River Kwai" were mostly unknowns) so it's good for big star watchers and it's an overall great film but it won't reach the heights of Holden's later "Bridge" film.
I saw this film when first released as a 15 year old teenager and was impressed by James A Michenor's ability to get across the futility of the Korean conflict. William Holden as the embittered "why me again" pilot used his considerable acting skills to get the message across. I thought Frederic March & Mickey Rooney were very effective in their roles as well. The courage of of the military who risk their lives to maintain our freedom of speech and action is well amplified in this film. The flying scenes were also brilliantly portrayed with great skill by the camera men. Unfortunately they do not make films like this anymore
William Holden is sent to bomb the "Bridges at Toko Ri" in the 1954
film also starring Frederic March, Grace Kelly, and Mickey Rooney. It's
a very good film about the carrier operations in Korea, and according
to one of the posters here, very accurate. The Korean War was the first
war that utilized jets, meaning that the pilots had to be educated in
new techniques to take off and land on aircraft. Sometimes there were
problems, and they had to ditch into freezing water and be saved via
helicopter. There were a lot of technical aspects of the work of the
pilots shown in this film.
Holden plays an attorney who is called into service and has to leave his practice and family. He is chosen by his commander (March) to perform a very dangerous mission bombing bridges from the air - in this case, there's no way to hide from the enemy; they can see you coming.
There are some very exciting moments and some striking air fights throughout the film, as well as good acting. It's a little heavy on star power - why was Grace Kelly in this? She has a very small role that could have been played by any young leading woman. Nevertheless, she's lovely and very pretty, certainly a good match for Holden. Holden was an ideal film star, and ideal for this sort of film, with that rugged, handsome face and very masculine persona. He also plays the role with a likability and vulnerability - you really can't lose with him. Frederic March gives a strong performance as his commander. The showiest role belongs to possibly the showiest actor, Mickey Rooney, as a brave helicopter pilot who is a little bit short-tempered while on leave. As the jailer in Tokyo tells Holden, "Keep an eye on him. There's still a part of Tokyo that's unharmed." All in all, a very good and sobering film. The old men send the young men off to war - and they're still doing it.
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