Operation Market Garden, September 1944: The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines. However, mismanagement and poor planning result in its failure.
The true story of Operation Market Garden, the Allies attempt, in September 1944, to hasten the end of WW2 by driving through Belgium and Holland into Germany. The idea was for US airborne divisions to take the towns of Eindhoven and Nijmegen and a British airborne division, reinforced by a Polish airborne brigade, to take the town of Arnhem. They would be reinforced, in due course and in turn, by the British XXX Corps, land-based and driving up from the British lines in the south. The key to the operation was the bridges, as if the Germans held or blew them, the paratroopers could not be relieved. Faulty intelligence, Allied high command hubris and stubborn German resistance would ensure that Arnhem was a bridge too far. Written by
Sir Laurence Olivier showed up on the set wearing an old suit and a pair of battered black shoes. He informed Sir Richard Attenborough that he had been gardening in the shoes for a month, so that they would look just right for the character, a Dutch farmer and doctor who risks his life to tend the wounded. See more »
When Ludwig is speaking to a subordinate about blowing the
bridge about to be assaulted by the 82nd, the subordinate refers to a "Hauptmann", the German word for captain. In the SS, the rank would be "Hauptsturmführer." Likewise, when he answers Ludwig, he calls him "General". Ludwig is listed in the cast as a Major General, but the equivalent SS rank would have been Brigadeführer. In the film, Ludwig's collar tab has 3 oak leafs and 1 pip which stands for Gruppenführer (General Lieutenant), even though his rank is that of a Brigadeführer. See more »
[Offers mug of tea]
Major General Urquhart:
Hancock. I've got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven't arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?
Couldn't hurt, sir.
[Urquhart accepts his mug of tea]
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I loved THE LONGEST DAY when I saw it as a child in the mid 1970s but have gone off it over the years because the characters are more like carichtures rather than real people and the dialogue sounds more like thought processes rather than spoken speech . I guess this is down to Cornelius Ryan not understanding the difference in writing a book and writing a screenplay . The film version of A BRIDGE TOO FAR the second of Ryan's trilogy giving the definitive account of the last year of the war in Europe is superior to THE LONGEST DAY simply because William Goldman has written a superior script than the one Ryan wrote . I can only fault Goldman's script for two things
1 ) Some obvious exposition throughout the first 45 minutes , though this probably isn't a fair criticism unlike .....
2 ) The Monty bashing . Along with SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and BAND OF BROTHERS this movie doesn't fail to put the boot into General Bernard Law Montgomery with a bunch of German Generals stating " Not even Eisenhower would be stupid enough to use Montgomery " and you do get the impression some people who get their history via war films will quickly come to the conclusion that Monty was the worst commander in human military history , never mind British military history . If Monty had a fault - And the only time it showed itself was during Operation MarketGarden - it was that he was too cautious but it should be remembered that he spent several years fighting on the Western front during the first world war . The likes of Patton , McArthur and future US president Harry S Trumann also fought in that conflict but America didn't enter WW1 until the spring 1917 and didn't contribute to any significant fighting until almost a year later . Unlike the British the future American commanders didn't experience a slaughter house like the Somme which had a profound effect of on Monty's psyche . It should also be remembered that no Western leader was better for turning a holding action into an offensive as seen at El Alamein and there was no better Western leader than Monty for a defensive holding action as seen at operation Goodwood in June 1944 . The problem with operation MarketGarden was logistics , intelligence reports , communications and just plain bad luck , not leadership
That criticism aside Goldman' script is a good one . Of course some facts and figures have been changed or omitted but the script does point out that great courage was shown by both sides and Goldman must be congratulated for including a scene where a Waffen SS trooper dies in a brave but vain attempt to save his commanding officer who is burning to death . The Waffen SS committed countless atrocities during the war but they were Nazi Germany's elite fighting force also capable of extreme bravery under fire so it's good to see a more balanced view of history , something not seen in more critically aclaimed productions like BAND OF BROTHERS and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
It's a shame A BRIDGE TOO FAR didn't do all that well at the box office or receive the critical acclaim it deserved , but STAR WARS came out at the same time thereby destroying the popularity of historical blockbusters with all star casts . It should also be pointed out that the anti-war sentiments of the film are surpassed by Vietnam movies like APOCALYPSE NOW and PLATOON but how do you make an anti-war film featuring the second world war as a backdrop unless you're a German ? I remember talking to my schoolmates in 1982 after this was shown on TV the previous night and we all agreed at the time this was the best war movie ever made . Looking back now it's not , but it's still a very good account of men in battle
Footnote : Check out Ryan's book THE LAST BATTLE , the final - And best - book in the trilogy that tells of the last months of the second world war
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