A Bridge Too Far

With an all-star cast including Michael Caine, Dirk Bogarde, Robert Redford, Maximillian Schell, Anthony Hopkins, James Caan, The Connery, Gene Hackman (putting on the worst Polish accent you will ever hear), Elliot Gould, Laurence Olivier, and even John Ratzenberger, it is no wonder this was 176 minutes long, all those big names needed their 15 minutes of fame.

But, it was reasonably painless to get through. Richard Attenborough did a smashing job of directing this story about the 1944 “Operation Market Garden” campaign. It was all done with military precision and telling the facts pretty much as they were. Some of it was twisted for entertainment’s sake, such as the quote “a bridge too far” being said at the end of the operation instead of before it in real life. From Wikipedia:

“It’s movement to the end of the movie incorrectly implies that the statement was an attempt to deflect blame for failure, as opposed to the warning it actually was.”

Because this was made in the 1977 there were pretty much no special effects, so everything was done with real stuff. They used real planes, lots of them, with real paratroopers for the air drops of troops and supplies, quite an impressive feat which of course would all be CG these days. The battlefield scenes, and fighting in the real-looking bombed-out towns was also impressive stuff.

The film cost the equivalent of US$100,000,000 to make back in the day, and got double that back at the box office. Robert Redford was paid the equivalent of US$8,000,000, yet he had very little screen time.

It was a bit cliché at times with the British being portrayed as tea-sipping, stiff upper lip, by the rules type chaps, and the Americans as wise-cracking rebels who just wanted to get the job done, damn the rules!

The stand-out actors in this were Anthony Hopkins, James Caan, Dirk Bogarde, Michael Caine, and of course The Connery.

Many years ago I played the game “Return to Castle Wolfenstein”, and one multi-player map was called “Operation Market Garden” which looked very much like the actual bridge and town in this film. It brought back happy memories of running around shooting stuff.

Worth a watch for war buffs, anyone who likes 1970’s big name actors, or Wolfenstein fans.

Date watched: November 9th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2016: 175


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