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.
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It is the Korean War and Lt. Harry Brubaker is a fighter-bomber pilot on the aircraft carrier USS Savo Island. A WW2 veteran and Naval Reserve pilot, he was drafted back into service from civilian life. This makes him quite resentful and cynical about the war. Now he has a dangerous mission to perform, and he is not sure he is up to the task.Written by
1. The book uses the name of the decommissioned/mothballed escort carrier Savo Island instead of the name of an Essex-class carrier on which author James A. Michener was a journalist (an escort carrier is incapable of launching or landing jet aircraft and only had propeller driven aircraft in its air group). The U.S. Navy aided in the production of this film by allowing the use of its fleet carriers (it did not use escort carriers, as they were incapable of performing the jet aircraft attack missions that were required of the film). This did not mean that the CVEs were not used during the Korean War; in fact, the following escort carriers did serve: USS Rendova (CVE-114); USS Bairoko (CVE-115); USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116); USS Sicily (CVE-118) flagship of Carrier Division (CarDiv) 15; USS Point Cruz (CVE-119). The CVEs carried piston-engined aircraft such as the F4U Corsair and A-1 Skyraiders. See more »
While over enemy territory during the photo recon and then the strike missions, the pilots talk a great deal over the radio about their location, preparations to attack and even their intentions to return to base... i.e. "air attack concluded". Now, while it's necessary for the movie plot to have these conversations between the characters while in danger, combat pilots in those days NEVER spoke like that while "feet dry" over enemy territory: the enemy would be listening and taking down every transmission while triangulating their position. There were no encrypted radios aboard aircraft like they have now. See more »
RAdm. George Tarrant:
Where do we get such men? They leave this ship and they do their job. Then they must find this speck lost somewhere on the sea. When the find it they have to land on its pitching deck. Where do we get such men?
Man on loudspeaker:
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Opening credits prologue: With Task Force 77 U.S. Navy Off the coast of Korea November, 1952 See more »
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.
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