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A Bridge Too Far (1977)

Here’s a star studded war film from director Richard Attenborough that I can vaguely recall being released to theaters when I was still in grade school. Commercials on television promised great war time adventure and scenes of carnage that had peaked my interest as I went about playing around the house with my little green army men. It would take the double VHS tape release that finally allowed me to see the film once the video market exploded for home viewing.

As I hadn’t seen it in a number of years I figured it was time for a revisit and honestly I can’t say it’s all that memorable. Just a bunch of famous people barking commands and dodging bullets throughout the nearly three hour running time though Attenborough does give it an epic scale showcase.  It also serves as a great go to movie if you’re looking to play that game of connecting one actor to another. So rather than a full on review of Attenborough’s film adapted from the Cornelius Ryan novel, how about a celebration of the cast he employed to join in.

Attenborough leading the charge.

James Caan, “Colonel, if you don’t look at him right now, he’s going to die. “

Michael Caine, “It would be bad form to arrive in advance of schedule. In the nick of time would do nicely. “

Sean Connery, “I thought everyone knew that God was a Scotsman. “

Edward Fox, “I’d like to think of this as one of those American western films. The paratroops, lacking substantial equipment, always short of food – these are the besieged homesteaders, the Germans, well naturally, they’re the bad guys, and XXX Corps, we my friends, are the cavalry, on the way to the rescue. “

Elliott Gould, “Tell those schmucks to do this right and have their Bailey stuff at the front of their column. Got that? “

Gene Hackman, “When one man says to another, “I know what let’s do today, let’s play the war game.”… everybody dies. “

Anthony Hopkins, ” I’m awfully sorry, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to occupy your house. “

Laurence Olivier, “Winning and losing is not our concern – living and dying… is. “

Ryan O’Neal, “I’m sending two companies across the river by boat. I need a man with very special qualities to lead. He’s got to be tough enough to do it and he’s got to be experienced enough to do it. Plus one more thing. He’s got to be dumb enough to do it… Start getting ready. “

Robert Redford, “Those are British troops at Arnhem. They’re hurt bad. And you’re just gonna sit here… and… drink tea? “

Liv Ullmann, “The Second World War was in its fifth year and still going Hitler’s way. German troops controlled most of Europe. D-Day changed all that. “

Hardy Kruger, ” they’re going to try a river assault.

Wolfgang Preiss, “Anything at all on when they plan to invade Holland? “

Maximilian Schell, “Counterattack! With what? “

and summing it up best,

Dirk Bogarde, ” Well, as you know, I always felt we tried to go a bridge too far. “

Don’t blink either or take an uncalled for washroom break. You’ll miss a quick cameo by Denholm Elliott sharing a brief scene with Gene Hackman. 

On connecting one actor to another here are a few of my favorite connections that come to mind considering who is all involved in this tale of WW2.

Connery and Caine had already starred in the John Huston classic, The Man Who Would Be King.

Denholm Elliott appeared with Connery in the third Indiana Jones flick and with Caine in the Robert Aldrich war thriller, Too Late The Hero.

Hardy Kruger had appeared with director Attenborough in the disaster flick, Flight of the Phoenix for Robert Aldrich back in 1965.

Caan, Gould and Caine in Harry and Walter Go To New York.

Fox, Bogarde and Olivier had already been directed by Attenborough in Oh, What a Lovely War. Fox would also go on to appear in Ghandi.

And in closing how about Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine in the classic 1972 mystery, Sleuth. Never was I so enthralled as a youngster discovering movies by a film that only had two actors in it.

I’m sure there are more connections to make so feel free to offer some up that I may have missed or not even seen. 

15 Comments »

  1. It took me three attempts to sit through this film without falling asleep, but I blame trying to watch it late at night after a long day. Mostly. It’s okay when all is said and done.

      • Yeah, i do that as well when a film isn’t as grand as expected. The Swarm was one of those as well, but I loved that Jerry Goldsmith score the most. 😀

  2. I also recently watched ”The Bridge at Remagen” with Robert Vaughan trying to pass as a German Officer in this film in the same arena as “A Bridge to Far.” Operation Market Garden has been wildly criticized and suffered massive casualties. Pretty much doomed from the outset this operation by Montgomery should of never proceeded. Both films had good action and hardware but as said were platforms for the actors to strut their abilities. Looking back now, I’m not convinced with Hackman’s accent but when it was released I was a kid.

    • Looking at the trivia section o IMDB for the movie it says that Bronson was thought of for the Hackman role and it makes sense with his background. Not sure if he was actually approached or even interested. One of those what if’s but the role is a very minor one amongst all the others. Bronson did better taking the role of the General who led the raid on Entebbe the same year in another star studded effort that was a very well made flick. Back to Robert Vaughn, he was entering his villain era on film now that UNCLE had come to an end.

      • Vaughn was a pen pushing office man in BULLITT too – technically on the good side but Steve McQueen’s character despised him.

      • Vaughn was a pen pushing office man in BULLITT too – technically on the good side but Steve McQueen’s character despised him.

  3. A double VHS yes I remember coming across them on a occasion. I would of seen this on the telly though and do recall quite liking it but then again I may of only watched key scenes. Was a long time ago. Do remember it having a superb cast and I love the way you have pictured each with a quote. On some of these long runtimes I do think to myself, hey I could be watching 3 super noirs instead! (well two and a half at least)

    • I hear yah about the running times, plenty of movies I want to revisit but damned hard to find the time to squeeze them in. Really want to have another look at Leone’s Once Upon a Time In America on blu ray. Have it on the shelf but the running time a killer.

      • Goodness I never knew it was that long!! That’s definitely not the version I saw! 2 and a hours I believe. Just had a quick look at I would of seen a cut version. I really enjoyed the film! So I didn’t notice, been a long time since seeing it mind. You will have to do a post on your thoughts on the marathon version and let us how your viewing experience went. Many be one for the winter months.

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