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 World War II by driving through Belgium and Holland into Germany. The idea was for U.S. 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
Air filming was done in the first weeks of September 1976, culminating in a series of air drops of a total of one thousand men, together with the dropping of supplies from several Dakota aircraft. The Dakotas were gathered by the movie company Joseph E. Levine Presents Incorporated. All aircraft were required to be C.A.A. (Civil Aviation Authority) or F.A.A. (Federal Aviation Administration) registered, and licensed to carry passengers. An original deal for the purchase of ten fell through, when two airframes were rejected as passenger configured without the necessary jump doors. Eleven Dakotas were procured. Two Portuguese, ex-Portuguese Air Force, 6153, and 6171, (N9984Q and N9983Q), and two Air International Dakotas, operating from Djibouti in French Somaliland, F-OCKU and F-OCKX, (N9985Q and N9986Q) were purchased by Joseph E. Levine. Three Danish Air Force, K-685, K-687, and K-688, and four Finnish Air Force C-47s, DO-4, DO-7, DO-10, and DO-12, were loaned for the duration of the parachute filming. See more »
Lt. General Horrocks states during the drive up the road that "It'll be dark soon". However, the short shadows of vehicles and buildings clearly show that it is the middle of the day. See more »
[Carlyle has asked to see Frost before he dies]
Lt. Col. John Frost:
Major Harry Carlyle:
Lt. Col. John Frost:
You know, Harry; I always wanted to ask you, but didn't because I knew you so very much wanted me to and I didn't want to give you the satisfaction; but why do you always carry that umbrella?
Major Harry Carlyle:
Bad memory. Never could remember the password. Knew no Jerry would carry one. Had to prove I was an Englishman, you see.
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The 1996 U.S video release confusingly removed all the titles in the film which described the location of certain scenes and replaced Elliott Gould's yell of "Roll the fuckers" with "Roll 'em fellas". The same print was used for the initial 1998 DVD release though later MGM 2-disc releases feature the original uncut version. See more »
Quite a few bad things have been written about A Bridge Too Far. Richard Attenborough's elephantine recreation of the battle for several strategically valuable Dutch bridges in the winter of 1944 is a star-studded, lengthy and exhausting film (and many critics at the time seemed to be of the opinion that it collapsed beneath its own weight). Almost thirty years on, the film is now viewed somewhat more favourably. It may feel 30 minutes too long, and the need for so many stars in so many tiny parts is questionable, but A Bridge Too Far successfully shows a fierce episode of the Second World War in all its chaotic glory. Incredibly, there's no use of the computer generated effects during the big battle scenes that it is relied upon in modern films like Gladiator and Troy. The scenes in this film were shot pretty much as you see them - so the 35,000 parachutists storming Holland, the river crossing led by Robert Redford under intense enemy fire, and other such staggering combat sequences were filmed with thousands of extras and a good deal of meticulous planning and preparation.
The film is based upon Operation Market Garden, an Allied plot hatched towards the end of 1944 with the intention of ending the war in Europe. The concept behind the plan was to drop 35,000 soldiers into Holland approximately 60 miles beyond the German lines, to seize six vital bridges, and to reinforce the paratroopers by sending in thousands of ground troops. However, various mishaps jeopardised the mission and eventually the Allies were cut off and had to withdraw, suffering severe losses.
As stellar casts go, A Bridge Too Far still takes some rivalling. Among the many famous actors involved, these are just a few: Sean Connery, Robert Redford, Laurence Olivier, Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Ryan O'Neal, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins and Elliott Gould. It seems pointless for some of the actors to be cast in these roles - true enough, Connery, Bogarde and Hopkins get decent roles and a fair bit of screen time, but was it really worth paying Redford $2,000,000 for his ten minute heroics? Could a decent actor have not handled the role for a fraction of that amount? Is Gene Hackman really the correct choice for Polish officer Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski? Should a light comic actor like Elliott Gould be doing his cigar-chomping "fun" turn in a movie as serious as this?
Luckily, the film is a big success on other levels. The cinematography is extraordinary; the music is suitably stirring; the potentially confusing story is handled with clarity and true-to-the-facts sensitivity; and amid the chaos a number of very memorable scenes emerge. A Bridge Too Far is a very good war film - maybe the biggest war film ever conceived (The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan included) - and I feel that, although it has a few casting flaws, it is in almost every other department a great, great achievement.
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