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A Bridge Too Far (1977)

PG | | Drama, History, War | 15 June 1977 (USA)
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.

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(book), (screenplay)
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Won 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Siem Vroom ...
Marlies van Alcmaer ...
Underground Leader's Wife (as Marlies Van Alcmaer)
Erik van 't Wout ...
Underground Leader's Son (as Eric Van't Wout)
...
Hans von Borsody ...
General Günther Blumentritt (as Hans Von Borsody)
Josephine Peeper ...
Cafe Waitress
...
Paul Maxwell ...
...
...
...
Walter Kohut ...
Peter Faber ...
...
Frank Grimes ...
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Storyline

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 grantss

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Out of the sky comes the screen's most incredible spectacle of men and war!

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

| | | |

Release Date:

15 June 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Brücke von Arnheim  »

Box Office

Budget:

$26,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$50,800,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)

Color:

(archive footage)| (colour) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Numerous officers have the names of crew members. For instance, in one of the shots of the soldiers occupying the house facing the bridge in Arnhem, Sgt. Clegg was a reference to production manager Terence A. Clegg. During the Bailey bridge segment, one Pvt. Gibbs was a reference to editor Antony Gibbs. During (DVD Chapter 26) Frost's Last Stand, Frost calls out on Sgt. Tomblin, a reference to First Assistant Director David Tomblin. Finally, MacDonald, whom agreed to man the wireless as Gen. Urquhart mentioned, was a reference to then camera operator Peter MacDonald. See more »

Goofs

When a damaged Allied cargo plane "crashes" behind some trees near Maj. Gen. Urquhart and his troops, the plane can be seen pulling up and flying away just behind the fireball marking its supposed impact point. See more »

Quotes

[Gavin is discussing the glitches that have come up]
Captain Harry Bestebreurtje: I don't want to hear any more. Is there any more?
Brigadier General James Gavin: You're my Dutch advisor, Harry.
Captain Harry Bestebreurtje: What's that supposed to mean?
Brigadier General James Gavin: Just that the Germans first tried to take Nijmeagen Bridge in 1940; and got slaughtered.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Fraochy Bay: A Midge Too Far (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

3rd Movement
(from Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-Flat Major, BWV. 1051) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"It's All A Question Of Bridges"
14 February 1999 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

"Quite frankly," observes 'Boy' Browning, "this kind of thing's never been attempted before." But it has. In 1962, "The Longest Day" gave the epic star-studded treatment to the D-Day landings, and here we are, 15 years on, doing the same for the Arnhem debacle. It has to be said, the film looks great. From the gently-tinkling light fittings in the Dutch resistors' home to the beauty of the tank tracks in perspective, this is a gorgeously-photographed movie.

In 1944, the German armies were being pushed back across the Low Countries. The Allies' great strategic problem was the Rhine, the wide river which formed Germany's western border. A daring plan was conceived which would overcome the Rhine obstacle and open the road to Berlin. 'Market Garden', as the plan was codenamed, involved parachuting spearhead units onto the great bridges over the Rhine and securing them for the critical few hours it would take for an armoured column to drive up and relieve them.

It is easy now to point to the flaws in 'Market Garden', but at the time it looked like a daring and viable alternative to slogging it out against the Siegfried Line. No-one had anticipated that the Dutch people would pour out onto the streets in throngs, thinking that they had been liberated, and thus bog down the armour. The intelligence indications of heavily-equipped German units in the zone were ignored because they were inconvenient. Critically, the plan allowed for only one solitary road to be available to the Irish Guards for the all-important northward thrust. The film illustrates very effectively the way in which a plan can develop its own momentum, regardless of the shortcomings which riddle it.

The sequence of the boarding and dropping of the paratroops is a thrilling spectacle, shot on a colossal scale. The German ambush which delays the rolling of the armoured column is another terrific action sequence. Attenborough keeps tight control of a big, complex story, and interlards the large-scale stuff with 'human scale' passages, like James Caan's rescue of his buddy (incidentally, the tracking shot which follows his jeep through the forest is quite remarkable).

The fighting at Nijmegen is brilliantly-filmed. Note how the street on the British side grows increasingly littered with war debris as the battle rages. Robert Redford's assault across the river is a symphony in olive drab, leading to a wonderful moment of exhilaration.

Whether the viewer finds the singing of "Abide With Me" moving or grossly sentimental will depend on personal taste, but the subdued ending is very satisfying. 'Market Garden' may have helped shorten the war and may have achieved most of its immediate objectives, but it has to be seen as a tragic mistake.

The film is slick, professional and very pleasing on the eye. One can't help wondering, however, if this kind of 'tank opera' was worth the effort, given that "The Longest Day" had done it all so splendidly a generation earlier.


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The sound makes it unwatchable dtmuller
Why was this regarded as a failure? greensville
It took 14 superstars.... Blakefield
Film is unfair to General Browning dazfiddy
Actual Extended Theatrical/Television Version tomh63
WAAAYYY Too Strong Anti-War Message brasidas1970
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