A Bridge Too Far

1977

A Bridge Too Far

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

59%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 22

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 43,198
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Movie Info

It's late 1944, and the Allied armies are confident they'll win the World War II and be home in time for Christmas. What's needed, says British general Bernard Law Montgomery, is a knockout punch, a bold strike through Holland, where German troops are spread thin, that will put the Allies into Germany. Paratroops led by British major general Robert Urquhart (Sean Connery) and American brigadier general James Gavin (Ryan O'Neal) will seize a thin road and five bridges through Holland into Germany, with paratroops led by Lieutenant Col. John Frost (Sir Anthony Hopkins) holding the most critical bridge at a small town called Arnhem. Over this road shall pass combined forces led by British Lieutenant Gen. Brian Horrocks (Edward Fox) and British Lieutenant Col. Joe Vandeleur (Michael Caine). The plan requires precise timing, so much so that one planner tells Lieutenant Gen. Frederick Browning (Dirk Bogarde), "Sir, I think we may be going a bridge too far." The plan also has one critical flaw: Instead of a smattering of German soldiers, the area around Arnhem is loaded with crack SS troops. Disaster ensues. Based on a book by historian Cornelius Ryan, A Bridge Too Far is reminiscent of another movie based on a Ryan book, The Longest Day. Like that movie, it is loaded with more than 15 international stars, including Sir Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, Hardy Krueger, Gene Hackman, Maximilian Schell, and Liv Ullman. ~ Nick Sambides, Jr., Rovi

Cast

Dirk Bogarde
as Lt. Gen. Roy Browning
James Caan
as SSgt. Eddie Dohun
Sean Connery
as Maj. Gen. Roy Urquhart
Michael Caine
as Lt. Col. Joe Vandeleur
Edward Fox
as Lt. Gen. Brian Horrocks
Elliott Gould
as Col. Bobby Stout
Gene Hackman
as Maj. Gen. Sosabowski
Anthony Hopkins
as Lt. Col. John Frost
Hardy Krüger
as Gen. Ludwig
Laurence Olivier
as Doctor Spaander
Ryan O'Neal
as Brig. Gen. James M. Gavin
Robert Redford
as Maj. Julian Cook
Maximilian Schell
as Lt. Gen. Wilhelm Bittrich
Liv Ullmann
as Kate Ter Horst
Denholm Elliott
as RAF Meteorological Officer
Arthur Hill
as Tough Colonel
Wolfgang Preiss
as Field Marshal von Rundstedt
Siem Vroom
as Underground Leader
Eric Vant Wout
as Child with Spectacles
Mary Smithuysen
as Old Dutch Woman
Nicholas Campbell
as Capt. Glass
Christopher Good
as Maj. Carlyle
Keith Drinkel
as Lt. Cornish
Hans von Borsody
as General Blumentritt
Peter Faber
as Capt. Harry
Ben Cross
as Trooper Binns
Paul Maxwell
as Major General Maxwell Taylor
Walter Kohut
as Field Marshall Model
Hartmut Becker
as German Sentry
Frank Grimes
as Major Fuller
Jeremy Kemp
as RAF Meteorological Officer
Donald Pickering
as Lieutenant Colonel Mackenzie
Donald Douglas
as Brigadier Lathbury
Michael Byrne
as Lieutenant Colonel Giles Vandeleur
Paul Copley
as Private Wicks
Gerald Sim
as Colonel Sims
Harry Ditson
as US Private
Erik Chitty
as Organist
Alun Armstrong
as Corporal Davies
Anthony Milner
as Private Dodds
Barry McCarthy
as Privare Clark
Lex van Delden
as Sergeant Matthias
Michael Wolf
as Field Marshall Model's Aide
Sean Mathias
as Irish Guards Lieutenant
Ray Jewers
as US Radio Operator
Fred Williams
as Captain Grabner
John Judd
as Sergeant Clegg
Hilary Minster
as British Medical Officer
David English
as Private Andrews
Ben Howard
as Sergeant Towns
Michael Graham Cox
as Captain Cleminson
Peter Gordon
as US Sergeant
Garrick Hagon
as Lieutenant Rafferty
Neil Kennedy
as Colonel Barker
John Salthouse
as Private 'Ginger' Marsh
John Hackett
as Glider Pilot
Stanley Lebor
as Regimental Sergeant Major
Jack Galloway
as Private Vincent
Milton Cadman
as Private Long
David Auker
as 'Taffy' Brace
Richard Kane
as Colonel Weaver
Toby Salaman
as Private Stephenson
John Morton
as US Padre
John Ratzenberger
as US Lieutenant
Patrick Ryecart
as German Lieutenant
Ian Liston
as Sergeant Witney
George Innes
as Sergeant Macdonald
John Stride
as Grenadier Guards Major
Niall Padden
as British Medical Officer
Simon Chandler
as Private Simmonds
Shaun Curry
as Corporal Robbins
Chris Williams
as Corporal Merrick
Jon Croft
as Soldier
Frank Jarvis
as Soldier
James Snell
as Soldier
Jason White
as Soldier
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Critic Reviews for A Bridge Too Far

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (9)

Audience Reviews for A Bridge Too Far

  • Oct 27, 2012
    Aside from a hokey sound track, this is an excellent WWII war film about real life events. And you'll see a cast of young stars who went on to greatness. Certainly worth watching.
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Aug 10, 2012
    It's an overlong war epic with an ensemble star cast, a plot about a view of a military invasion during World War II from the standpoint of various members of every nation involved, as well as a title that talks about how long something spans, so I think that it's safe to say that this is pretty much more of a companion piece to "The Longest Day" than it is a companion piece to "Theirs Is the Glory", only it's maybe a bit more British. Seriously man, they got Richard Attenborough to direct, and the only way a film can get any more British is if it has a cast featuring Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins and Laurence Olivier, and you better believe that this film went to that level of British. Jeez, that's more British than I can handle, so much so that I pretty much forgot that the film didn't just focus on Brits, so they may as well as have trimmed up this film's excess fat, made it just about the Brits and saved money on James Caan Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman and Robert Redford. Well, in all fairness, they probably didn't cost a whole lot, because they were so bent on being somewhere in every film in the '70s that I can see them taking pay cuts just to be in a film at that time. ...Shoot, I can't even joke about that, because you know those boys got paid, and this film cost enough to make, so I suppose it's a good thing that audiences paid more money to this film than the Oscars paid attention. Well, the critics were just harsh on this film because "for daring to expose the fatal inadequacies of the Allied campaign." ...Shoot, I can't even joke about that either, because you know that they didn't want to admit in this film's making-of documentary that the film was criticised as overlong and overblown by everyone, their grandmother and, now, me, for although I like this film just fine, they aren't kidding when they say that this bridge is too far, because it sure takes a while for this film to get where it wants to go. 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 06, 2011
    So it seems the Allies did not win every battle of the WWll, despite what's depicted in popular film: There were occasions of sad defeat and this is one of them, British General Montgomery's ill-conceived plan to crash through the Netherlands into Germany. A large project from the get-go, a large Brit, Yank, German and Dutch cast attempt to convey why Operation Market Garden eventually failed. Great shots of Holland (my fav foreign country) abound.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 28, 2011
    A Bridge Too Far recreates Operation Market Garden. Set in September 1944, this film is a superb recreation of the failed operation that could have ended the war by Christmas of that year. A Bridge Too Far is one of the most accurate portraits of Operation Market Garden, along with the portrayal of the failed operation in HBO'S Band of Brothers. A Bridge Too Far is a superb war film with a collection of some of cinema's finest actors. Every actor here are phenomenal in the parts they play, and you really get insight from what happened during operation Market Garden. The operation failed of inaccurate or little intelligence and the Allies encountered heavier German resistance than they originally anticipated. A Bridge Too Far is a film that tries to focus more on the historical aspects of the battle, and with that in mind, it's not a pure action film. Yes, there is a lot of fighting, but this film isn't meant to be an action film, I see it more as a history lesson that brings to light why this operation failed. If you're expecting a straight forward action packed war film, you'll be sadly disappointed. Richard Attenborough tried to focus on the realities of war, and focus more on the failed operation than giving the viewer a more straight forward action picture. That's why I enjoyed A Bridge Too Far, I am a WWII nut, I am obsessed with the subject, and I really enjoyed the fact that they tried to stay truthful to the real event, and not ruin it with your typical Hollywood stylized action scenes. There are some great war scenes in this film of course, and it's thrilling to watch. The all star cast adds a lot more depth to this film, and they make this film worth watching. Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Edward Fox really stood out for me. The only complaint I had the film was the fact that they tried to include a bit of Hollywood style drama into the story, which I think was unnecessary, as this was a strong film altogether. This is one of the classic war films to watch.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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