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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.


(book), (screenplay)
3,389 ( 707)

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Won 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Siem Vroom ... Underground Leader
Marlies van Alcmaer ... Underground Leader's Wife (as Marlies Van Alcmaer)
Erik van 't Wout ... Underground Leader's Son (as Eric Van't Wout)
... Field Marshal Gerd Von Rundstedt
... General Blumentritt (as Hans Von Borsody)
Josephine Peeper ... Cafe Waitress
... Lieutenant General Browning
... Major General Maxwell Taylor
... Major General Urquhart
... Brigadier General Gavin
... Major General Sosabowski
Walter Kohut ... Field Marshal Model
Peter Faber ... Captain 'Harry' Bestebreurtje
... German Sentry
... Major Fuller


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

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Drama | History | War


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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

15 June 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Brücke von Arnheim  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)


(archive footage)| (colour) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Film critics derided Producer Joseph E. Levine for casting thirty-five-year-old Ryan O'Neal to play an Army General. But in reality, Brigadier General James M. Gavin was only thirty-seven-years-old at the time of the battle. In fact, shortly after this battle, Gavin was promoted to Major General, and at thirty-seven, was the youngest man ever to hold that rank. See more »


The bomb placed as shown would never collapse the entire bridge, because although it's directly under the road surface, it's 80 ft under the apex of the steel arch, the strongest part of the structure, which would remain intact after the bomb goes off. The bomb would have virtually no effect. The best the explosives could achieve where they're shown would be to disrupt the road surface. See more »


Lt. General Horrocks: Kickoff will be at 14:35 hours tomorrow afternoon. The Irish Guards under the command of Col. Vandeleur will take the lead.
Lt. Colonel J.O.E. Vandeleur: [sotto voce] Christ, not us again.
Lt. General Horrocks: What'd you say to that, Joe?
Lt. Colonel J.O.E. Vandeleur: Delighted, sir, truly delighted.
Lt. General Horrocks: I've selected you to lead us, not only because of your extraordinary fighting ability, but also because, in the unlikely event the Germans ever get you, they will assume from your attire that they've captured a wretched peasant and immediately send you on your way.
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Referenced in Going to Extremes: A Bridge Too Far (1992) See more »


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

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User Reviews

The Allies Overreach
28 February 2008 | by See all my reviews

Although A Bridge Too Far, the story of the Allied failed offensive operation in the Netherlands known as Market Garden is based on a book by Cornelius Ryan who also wrote The Longest Day, it doesn't quite reach the classic heights of that film. Maybe because the Allies don't quite reach their objective and pay a terrible price.

I'm not quite sure that Dwight D. Eisenhower did not leave World War II with the biggest migraine headache of all time, having to contend with all the egos he did there. You can read the various memoirs and books about his subordinates, both British and American and the common thread that runs through all of them is how if Ike only listened to me, the war would have been over six to nine months earlier in Europe. And the sad thing is he had to balance military with domestic political considerations for both countries.

The events of September 17-25 of 1944 are what A Bridge Too Far depict. The idea was for Allied Airbourne Divisions both American and British to take a series of bridges in the Netherlands to facilitate the Rhine crossing into the Ruhr Valley of Germany. This was and is Germany's industrial heartland. Imagine if you will an operation to take bridges across the Ohio River to invade the industrial mid-west in the USA and you have some idea. Then the ground troops would invade and link the various isolated airborne troops and everybody go across the Rhine and into Germany.

In his memoirs one the best British commanders of World War II, Sir Brian Horrocks said that if the Allies had known that the Germans had mined the Schelde estuary leading to the port of Antwerp, Market Garden might have been feasible. If they had the use of Antwerp, because they had taken it at considerable cost, a steady supply line might have been available and half of what you see in A Bridge Too Far wouldn't have happened. The other big failure of Market Garden was the lack of usable roads to get the Allied tanks over. Horrocks is played by Edward Fox in the film and he's in command of ground troops. The Airborne Commander is Frederick 'Boy' Browning played by Dirk Bogarde.

The best role in the film is that of Sean Connery as the Commander of the most forward of the Allied Airborne armies playing General Roy Urquhart. It's quite true as depicted in the film that Urquhart was prone to airsickness. Urquhart spent nine days at the bridge too far as it turned out at Arnhem. He very nearly became a prisoner of war as his very graphically shown. Had the Germans captured Urquhart he would have been the highest ranking Allied General taken prisoner since General Richard O'Connor in the African desert in 1940.

Lots of American and British name players populate director Richard Attenborough's cast. Ryan O'Neal is General James M. Gavin a hero at D-Day whose 82nd Airborne was put under British command and did their job. Robert Redford is a major who makes a heroic attempt to rescue Connery's forces. James Caan has a nice part as an Army sergeant who forces a tired army doctor played by Arthur Hill at gunpoint to operate and save his lieutenant's life.

One of the best scenes in the film is Laurence Olivier as a Dutch doctor who is treating Allied wounded at Liv Ullman's house who goes and asks for a truce to get his wounded into the tender care of the Nazis. S.S. General Hardy Kruger would just as soon kill them all, but Maximilian Schell as German commander Bittner allows the truce.

One thing I loved about A Bridge Too Far is John Addison's music score for the film. It's right on par with the theme from The Longest Day that Paul Anka wrote.

Military historians will love A Bridge Too Far, it's a great example of one of the 'what ifs' of history.

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