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A Bridge Too Far

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A Bridge Too Far (1977)

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Out of the sky comes the screen's most incredible spectacle of men and war!

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. ~

A Bridge Too Far is a 1977 epic war film based on the 1974 book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan, adapted by William Goldman. It was produced by Joseph E. Levine and Richard P. Levine and directed by Richard Attenborough.[3]
The film tells the story of the failure of Operation Market Garden during World War II, the Allied attempt to break through German lines and seize several bridges in the occupied Netherlands, including one at Arnhem, with the main objective of outflanking German defenses.
The name for the film comes from an unconfirmed comment attributed to British Lieutenant-General Frederick Browning, deputy commander of the First Allied Airborne Army, who told Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the operation's architect, before the operation: "I think we may be going a bridge too far."[4]
The ensemble cast includes Dirk Bogarde, Ryan O'Neal, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould, Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman, Hardy Krüger, Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, Maximilian Schell and Liv Ullmann. The music was scored by John Addison, who took part in Market Garden.

An episode of the Dutch TV history programme Andere Tijden (site in Dutch) (English: Different Times) about the making of this movie stated that producer Joseph E. Levine told the Deventer town government that their town would host the world premiere for A Bridge Too Far, on 14 June 1977. This never came to be, though, and Deventer even missed out on the Dutch premiere, which was held in Amsterdam.
Joseph E. Levine financed the $22 million budget himself. During the production, he would show footage from the film to distributors who would then pay him for distribution rights. By the time the film was finished, Levine had raised $26 million, putting the film $4 million in the black before it had even opened.
All the star-name actors agreed to participate on a favoured-nation basis (i.e. they would all receive the same weekly fee), which in this case was $250,000. per week (the 2012 equivalent of $1,008,250. or £642,000).[30]
Shooting of the American-led assault on the Bridge at Nijmegen was dubbed the “Million-Dollar Hour”. Because of the heavy traffic, the crew had permission to film on the bridge between eight and nine o'clock on 3 October 1976. Failure to complete the scene, would have necessitated rescheduling at a cost — including Redford's overtime — of at least a million dollars. For this reason, Attenborough insisted that all actors playing corpses keep their eyes closed.[3]
Michael Caine's scripted line to order the column of tanks and armoured cars into battle, was "Forward, go, charge". Luckily for Caine, Lieutenant Colonel Joe Vandeleur was on the set, so he could ask him what the actual line was. Vandeleur told him, "I just said quietly into the microphone, 'Well, get a move on, then'", which is what Caine says in the film as released.
Edward Fox had known General Horrocks before working on the film, and considered him a friend; thus, Fox took great care to portray him accurately. Years later, he would cite his portrayal of Horrocks as his favorite film role.[31]
Dirk Bogarde had known General Browning from his time on Field Marshal Montgomery's staff during the war and took issue with the film's largely negative portrayal of the general. General "Boy" Browning's widow, the author Daphne du Maurier, ferociously attacked his characterisation and "the resultant establishment fallout, much of it homophobic, wrongly convinced [Bogarde] that the newly ennobled Sir Richard had deliberately contrived to scupper his own chance of a knighthood."[30]
Sean Connery initially turned down his role, fearing that the film would glamorize a military disaster, but changed his mind after reading the finished screenplay.
Connery and Caine worked together on the 1975 film The Man Who Would Be King, although they had no scenes together in this movie.
Even though Maximilian Schell spoke fluent English, he remained true to his character as General Bittrich and spoke no English in the movie.
Audrey Hepburn (who had lived in the Netherlands during Market Garden) was the first choice to play Kate Ter Horst, but declined due to the low salary. Roger Moore was the first choice to play Horrocks but his contractual commitment to The Spy Who Loved Me prevented him from taking the part.
A Bridge Too Far was the first war film in which actors were put through boot camp prior to filming. Attenborough put many of the extras/soldiers through a mini-boot camp and had them housed in a barrack accommodation during filming.

Release Date: June 15, 1977

Distrib: United Artists

Boxoffice: $50,750,000 2013: $185,704,000


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