The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955)

102-103 or 105 mins | Drama | February 1955

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HISTORY

Onscreen credits include the following written acknowledgment: “We proudly present this motion picture as a tribute to the United States Navy and especially to the men of the Naval Air and Surface Forces of the Pacific Fleet whose cooperation made this picture possible.” James Michener’s novelette was first published in the 6 Jul 1953 issue of Life magazine. Paramount’s $100,000 purchase of the book in Jul 1953 caused some controversy, as M-G-M had recently acquired an article by Michener titled “Forgotten Heroes of Korea,” which was similar in theme to The Bridges at Toko-Ri . According to an Aug 1953 Var item, M-G-M production head Edward J. Mannix and Paramount production head Don Hartman worked out an agreement whereby the plots of the two proposed pictures would not “look alike on the screen.” M-G-M released Men of the Fighting Lady in 1954 (See Entry). According to a Sep 1953 Army Archerd DV column, Paramount also agreed not to release The Bridges at Toko-Ri until a year after the M-G-M film’s release.
       According to modern sources, William Holden accepted his part in the film on condition that the tragic ending of Michener’s book not be changed for the screen. As noted in a Nov 1953 DV news item, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Abel, Walter Pidgeon and director William A. Wellman were considered for the role of “Rear Adm. George Tarrant,” before Fredric March was cast. Paramount borrowed Grace Kelly from M-G-M for the production. When cast in early 1954, Kelly was still a relative unknown, but ... More Less

Onscreen credits include the following written acknowledgment: “We proudly present this motion picture as a tribute to the United States Navy and especially to the men of the Naval Air and Surface Forces of the Pacific Fleet whose cooperation made this picture possible.” James Michener’s novelette was first published in the 6 Jul 1953 issue of Life magazine. Paramount’s $100,000 purchase of the book in Jul 1953 caused some controversy, as M-G-M had recently acquired an article by Michener titled “Forgotten Heroes of Korea,” which was similar in theme to The Bridges at Toko-Ri . According to an Aug 1953 Var item, M-G-M production head Edward J. Mannix and Paramount production head Don Hartman worked out an agreement whereby the plots of the two proposed pictures would not “look alike on the screen.” M-G-M released Men of the Fighting Lady in 1954 (See Entry). According to a Sep 1953 Army Archerd DV column, Paramount also agreed not to release The Bridges at Toko-Ri until a year after the M-G-M film’s release.
       According to modern sources, William Holden accepted his part in the film on condition that the tragic ending of Michener’s book not be changed for the screen. As noted in a Nov 1953 DV news item, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Abel, Walter Pidgeon and director William A. Wellman were considered for the role of “Rear Adm. George Tarrant,” before Fredric March was cast. Paramount borrowed Grace Kelly from M-G-M for the production. When cast in early 1954, Kelly was still a relative unknown, but by the time the film was released in 1955, she had won a Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in Paramount’s The Country Girl , which also co-starred Holden (See Entry), and was awarded billing above March and Mickey Rooney. HR news items add Duke Fishman, George Champ, Mimi Gibson and Fred Revalala to the cast, and note that Jerry Sheldon, Dana Andrews’ stand-in, had been given a role, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Location and background filming took place in Korea and Japan, including Tokyo and Yokosuka Naval Base, according to news items. Despite pre-production predictions that the U.S. Navy and Dept. of Defense would not cooperate on the picture because of prior commitments to the M-G-M project, Paramount received permission to film at sea on an unnamed U.S. aircraft carrier. Rear Adm. John B. Pearson helped arrange the carrier-based filming, according to a Jan 1955 HR news item. Modern sources note that onboard shooting took place in the Yellow Sea, 300 miles from Tokyo. The Bridges at Toko-Ri won an Academy Award for Best Special Effects. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Dec 53
p. 576.
Box Office
1 Jan 1955.
---
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1953.
---
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1953.
---
Daily Variety
5 Nov 1953.
---
Daily Variety
24 Nov 1953.
---
Daily Variety
28 Dec 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Dec 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1953
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1953
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 1953
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 1954
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1954
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1954
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1954
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 1954
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1954
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 1955
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1955
p. 6.
Life
7 Feb 1955.
---
Look
8 Feb 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Jan 55
p. 265.
New York Times
21 Jan 1955
p. 20.
Newsweek
17 Jan 1955.
---
Time
24 Jan 1955.
---
Variety
8 Jul 1953.
---
Variety
5 Aug 1953.
---
Variety
12 Aug 1953.
---
Variety
29 Dec 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
The Perlberg-Seaton Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
2d unit photog
Aerial photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Prod mgr
Stage eng
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novelette The Bridges at Toko-Ri by James A. Michener (New York, 1953).
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1955
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York opening: 20 January 1955
Denver opening: 21 January 1955
Production Date:
early January--mid February 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
12 January 1955
Copyright Number:
LP4377
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
up to 2:1
Duration(in mins):
102-103 or 105
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17070
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In November 1952, off the coast of Korea, U.S. Navy helicopter pilots Mike Forney and Nestor Gamidge rescue bomber pilot Lt. Harry Brubaker from the icy Pacific after Harry is forced to ditch his damaged plane. Mike, who wears an emerald green top hat and scarf during his rescues, delivers Harry safely to the deck of his aircraft carrier, which is under the supervision of Rear Adm. George Tarrant. Impressed with Harry’s professionalism, George later advises him to pursue a career in the Navy, but Harry disdains the notion. Harry, a lawyer in civilian life, complains about being recalled to duty after serving in World War II and questions why America is fighting in Korea. After responding that America must fight in order to keep Communism in check, George states that a successful attack on the bridges at Toko-Ri would greatly help the war effort. George then reveals that Harry’s wife Nancy and young children, Kathey and Susie, are in Tokyo, where the crew is due for a five-day leave. Later, as the ship is approaching Tokyo, Cmdr. Wayne Lee, who heads Harry’s air group, argues with George about the berthing procedure, which he feels is overly stressful for his pilots. When George criticizes him for going over the ship captain’s head and jeopardizing his chances of promotion, Wayne backs down, and George laments privately that Wayne is a weak officer. Upon docking in Tokyo, Harry joyfully reunites with Nancy, while Mike reunites with his Japanese girl friend, Kimiko. Harry and Nancy then join their daughters at a hotel in Fujisan, where George also is staying. That evening, Nestor finds ... +


In November 1952, off the coast of Korea, U.S. Navy helicopter pilots Mike Forney and Nestor Gamidge rescue bomber pilot Lt. Harry Brubaker from the icy Pacific after Harry is forced to ditch his damaged plane. Mike, who wears an emerald green top hat and scarf during his rescues, delivers Harry safely to the deck of his aircraft carrier, which is under the supervision of Rear Adm. George Tarrant. Impressed with Harry’s professionalism, George later advises him to pursue a career in the Navy, but Harry disdains the notion. Harry, a lawyer in civilian life, complains about being recalled to duty after serving in World War II and questions why America is fighting in Korea. After responding that America must fight in order to keep Communism in check, George states that a successful attack on the bridges at Toko-Ri would greatly help the war effort. George then reveals that Harry’s wife Nancy and young children, Kathey and Susie, are in Tokyo, where the crew is due for a five-day leave. Later, as the ship is approaching Tokyo, Cmdr. Wayne Lee, who heads Harry’s air group, argues with George about the berthing procedure, which he feels is overly stressful for his pilots. When George criticizes him for going over the ship captain’s head and jeopardizing his chances of promotion, Wayne backs down, and George laments privately that Wayne is a weak officer. Upon docking in Tokyo, Harry joyfully reunites with Nancy, while Mike reunites with his Japanese girl friend, Kimiko. Harry and Nancy then join their daughters at a hotel in Fujisan, where George also is staying. That evening, Nestor finds Harry at the hotel bar and beseeches him to help Mike, who, he explains, was arrested by MPs in Tokyo after brawling with a sailor over Kimiko. Harry agrees to intercede, and while he drives to Tokyo with Nestor, in Fujisan, George gently lectures Nancy about facing up to the grim realities of war. George, who lost two sons during World War II, tells Nancy about his daughter-in-law and wife, both of whom were destroyed psychologically by the war. Nancy takes George’s words to heart and, after Harry returns, having bailed the heartbroken but feisty Mike out of jail, insists that he stop protecting her and talk about his upcoming mission in Toko-Ri. Harry describes the strategically vital, heavily fortified bridges, which span a narrow gap between two mountains, and the difficulty he will have in bombing them. Though disheartened, Nancy states that in order to survive emotionally, she, too, must face the bridges at Toko-Ri. After Harry and his family make the most of their time together, enjoying a dip in a public bath, Harry bids Nancy goodbye at the dock. Later, in preparation for the Toko-Ri bombing, Harry, Wayne and other pilots escort a plane equipped with a motion picture camera to photograph the Korean defenses there. Although the mission is successful, Wayne overshoots his on-deck landing and breaks the net barrier, forcing Harry to land without a barrier. Under pressure, Harry executes a perfect landing, but after viewing the Toko-Ri footage, which shows the camera plane flying through a barrage of anti-aircraft fire, is filled with dread. Wayne notices Harry’s unease and advises him to bow out if he is unsure of himself. Harry declines and takes off with the other pilots. Despite heavy enemy flak, the bombers blow up all the bridges, and Wayne decides to continue the mission and shell secondary targets. Harry’s plane is hit and he is forced to crash-land in the hills. After a rough landing, Harry jumps from his wrecked plane and hides in a nearby irrigation ditch, but is soon spotted by enemy soldiers. Armed with only a pistol, Harry is relieved when Mike and Nestor’s helicopter arrives, but the Koreans immediately disable the craft and kill Nestor. Although the American bombers return to strafe the Koreans, Harry and Mike are eventually cornered in the ditch and killed. Later, when questioned by George, Wayne firmly defends his decision to continue the mission after the bridges were bombed, and though greatly saddened by Harry’s death, George admits that Wayne, like Harry, is a “good man” after all. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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