A Bridge Too Far Reviews
Bogarde plays British Lt. General Browning who is executing the Market Garden plan of General Montgomery. Browning meets with four Generals at the beginning but now I can't place who the fourth guy was. Attenborough explains that all the big name stars were hired to help people more easily follow the plot as it jumps from location to location. At least that effort helps. But I'm not as familiar with all the British stars and with many of the men in helmets or obscured by blood, it was still hard to keep up with all the elements of the plot. Anyways, Market Garden is about taking control of three bridges along the only road running through German occupied Holland to Germany. The first General meeting with Browning whose name I can't remember I think is sent to capture and hold the first bridge, or assign the job, or maybe he sends the first wave to capture and hold the third bridge. It's unclear in my mind and I don't remember seeing his face later in the movie. Moving on, O'Neal plays American Brig. General Gavin who is sent to the second bridge. Then from that same first meeting, Connery plays Scottish Maj. General Urquhart who is sent to lead the second wave to drop down near the third bridge. And Hackman plays Polish Maj. General Sosabowski who must deal with being the leftovers, he's to lead the third wave to help hold control of the third bridge. The whole plan involves a set of tanks moving up the road as each bridge is cleared and thousands of men parachuted down to fight for their respective bridges. There is Caine as Lt. Colonel J.O.E. leading the tanks. Gould plays Colonel Stout who organizes the troops in fixing the first bridge. O'Neal enlists Major Cook's (Redford) help in paddling across a river in broad daylight with his men to accomplish capturing both sides of the second bridge at once. Hopkins as Lt. Colonel Frost is leading the first wave to try to hold the third bridge. Except it is much more heavily defended than expected and before long they are just barely holding on for dear life. Connery's group lands in an area that is also more heavily defended than expected and it becomes more and more unlikely that his men will make it to the third bridge. Hackman's men are delayed by the weather and by the time they arrive to backup the third bridge the Germans are even more prepared. There are a couple German Generals who play major roles as well. Olivier plays a doctor and Ullmann a woman who lets many of the wounded stay at her house. It's a good story about an unsuccessful Allied campaign following D-Day. However, there is just a lot going on and too many Generals to keep track of. The movie could have been better focused.
Just like "The Longest Day", the film attempts to tackled too much, going bloated to the rim with subplots that all flow together rather inorganically, not necessarily to the point of rendering the film uneven, but definately too the point of rendering the film convoluted and exhaustingly, as I said, overlong and overblown. This of course winds the film something fierce, and it doesn't help that all of these subplots are a touch too similar, in that, after a while, they begin to run into each other and make the film progressively more and more repetitious. This excessive repetition hazes the distinctiveness of each subplot and character, which not only exacerbates the film's convolution, but keeps us from finding a full grip on the many, many stories and characters, leaving them hardly fleshed out and the film itself even more disengaging. Of course, that is not the only problematic consistency in this film, as something that you can expect to find plaguing this film through and through is, of course, Richard Attenborough Brit-tastic slowness and dryness, which slows down the film's momentum even further, and the film is slow enough as it is, thus rendering the final product all too often rather dull, and certainly borderline ceaselessly disengaging. The film drags on and on, and even when things pick up and fall more into action, there's still too much exhausting bloating, and after a while, even the war sequences momentarily fail to sustain your full investment and attention. I joke about this film being pretty much another "The Longest Day", but really, this film is so very startlingly similar to that overlong, overblown mess, to the point of feeling rather unoriginal, outside of being colorized and with a few other relatively unique touches, which is a shame, because this is a unique concept that they could have explored differently with this film for better results, yet don't, instead choosing to succumb to the topes established by "The Longest Day", complete with exhausting excessiveness, disengaging slowness and, ultimately, underwhelmingness. However, "The Longest Day" certainly wasn't without its fair share of strengths, and reasonably strong ones at that, so sure enough, for every fault made by this film, there is a right move that keeps you sticking with it.
The film doesn't entirely deliver on the sweeping shots you would hope for out of an epic, nor does it provide especially dazzling lighting and color, yet Geoffrey Unsworth's cinematography remains generally impressive, having a degree of broadness in it that gives this film a bit of an epic scope, particularly when the occasional slick photography move occurs and really leaves this film to sweep. These sweeping moments certainly come in handy during the action sequences, which are, as I said, often rather exhaustingly overlong and with limited dynamicity, but remain well-done for the most part, with explosive grandness complimented by Unsworth's cinematography at its most sweeping, as well as typically piercing intensity formed from director Richard Attenborough's atmosphere manipulation. Still, the action isn't the only hit-or-miss aspect that hits more than misses... or it might very well be, because I don't particularly know if the substance hits more than misses, being that it's so messily handled, yet make no mistake, this film's substance does kick at enough points to sustain enough of your investment and attention throughout the film's bloated runtime of nearly three hours, particularly when this film pulls the occasional thing that "The Longest Day" didn't quite have the guts to go through with. People give "The Longest Day" a whole heap more credit simply because it's dirt-old, and don't tell me that's not the reason, because there's no getting around the fact that "The Longest Day" suffered from, well, a lot of things, including very '60s dramatic sensibilities, which picked up many potentially effective dramatic moments and either dropped them on the spot or cheesed them up with '60s Hollywood smoothness or unsubtlety, and while this film is considerably dramatcially flawed, if nothing else leaves it to transcend the quality of "The Longest Day", it's its having the advantage of being released in the late '70s with an R rating, and therefore more room to do what "The Longest Day" failed to do: provide audacious dramatic high points; and I mean "high" points. Sure, being that the film is such a mess, the dramatic points aren't especially effective, nor are they even all that frequent, yet when they do hit the scene, Richard Attenborough draws depth from them and cuts to the nitty and gritty, which rarely gets to be pessimistic, or rather, harshly realistic, but definately gets fairly potent in a fashion that sticks with the film through and through, leaving it to grow more and more compelling as it progresses, until by the final act, an engrossing, fairly powerful drama unexpectedly stands, which may sadly not be enough for this film, as a whole, to transcend to generally genuinely good, but definately gives this film some juice when it needs it most, and for this dramatic effectiveness, credit goes out to not only Attenborough, but William Goldman. Goldman's screenplay is certainly flawed, yet most of the film's flaws - of which, there are many - arise from faulty execution of Goldman's screenplay, as Goldman's screenplay is, for the most part, actually fairly sharp, with sharp dialogue, unique points and, yes, even a fair bit of nifty characterization, something that only faults as far as directorial execution is concerned, because when it comes to the performers behind the characters who are being fleshed out, you better believe they deliver, as well they should, considering their caliber. The film's cast is indeed star-studded, boasting countless talents, some of whom are better and with more material than others, yet all of whom deliver on colorful and even distinct charisma that emphasizes their characters and makes them memorable, even with their being messily handled when it comes to Attenborough's direction, and with this film being built around its acting talents - perhaps too much so -, expect plenty of color that may not drown out the film's missteps and render the final product genuinely good, but definately render the final product quite watchable - nay - quite enjoyable.
At the end of the bridge, or rather, the day it takes to watch this, the film lacks some of the uniqueness that was introduced in "The Longest Day", but definately boasts many of the flaws of "The Longest Day", going so excessively bloated with subplots that the substance within each subplot goes tainted with exhausting convolution, while the film, as a whole, goes tainted by immense repetition, and with consistent slowness making the final product even more disengaging, what we're ultimately left with is an epic that's not as good as it should have been, yet still remains fairly decent, boasting consistently fair and, at times, sweeping photography to compliment the dazzling action sequences, while screenwriter William Goldman delivers on generally fine structure that goes complimented by inspired moments in Richard Attenborough's direction, a gradual build in compellingness and, of course, by the immense charisma found throughout the star-studded cast of talents, thus leaving "A Bridge Too Far" to stand as a flawed and ultimately underwhelming, yet generally enjoyable multi-angle study on the WWII Allied forces' Operation Market Garden.
2.5/5 - Fair