A Bridge Too Far (1977)

PG | 176 mins | Adventure | 15 June 1977

Writer:

William Goldman

Producer:

Richard P. Levine

Cinematographer:

Geoffrey Unsworth

Editor:

Antony Gibbs

Production Designer:

Terence Marsh
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HISTORY

       Producer Joseph E. Levine revealed in a 24 Jan 1977 LAT article that he paid $325,000 for the film rights to A Bridge Too Far. Levine received permission to shoot in Deventer, Holland, from The Dutch Government in The Hague, according to the 22 Sep 1975 HR . Though the film’s main battle took place in Arnhem, Holland, twenty-five miles south of Deventer, Arnhem had become too bustling and modern in the intervening thirty years, so the producers opted for the eighth-century tourist city of Deventer, whose bridge resembled the historic bridge at Arnhem.
       The 31 May 1976 Box reported that filming began on A Bridge Too Far in Holland on 28 Apr 1976. The production lasted 133 days until its completion on the second week of Oct, as stated in the 13 Oct 1976 Var. The 16 Aug 1976 issue of Newsweek detailed how most of the cost went into finding or building the World War II material needed to reenact the Arnhem campaign. Obsolete American Sherman tanks and glider planes had to be completely rebuilt, and the producer had to purchase seven large Dakota planes that had once been used for dropping paratroopers. The film crew constructed eight complete houses in Deventer, the costume unit created 2,200 military uniforms and fifty British actors underwent commando training.
       In an interview in the 17 Jan 1977 DV, Levine revealed that nine million dollars of A Bridge Too Far ’s $25-million budget went to the cast, including Robert Redford’s $500,000 weekly salary (for four weeks).
       A 13 May 1977 ... More Less

       Producer Joseph E. Levine revealed in a 24 Jan 1977 LAT article that he paid $325,000 for the film rights to A Bridge Too Far. Levine received permission to shoot in Deventer, Holland, from The Dutch Government in The Hague, according to the 22 Sep 1975 HR . Though the film’s main battle took place in Arnhem, Holland, twenty-five miles south of Deventer, Arnhem had become too bustling and modern in the intervening thirty years, so the producers opted for the eighth-century tourist city of Deventer, whose bridge resembled the historic bridge at Arnhem.
       The 31 May 1976 Box reported that filming began on A Bridge Too Far in Holland on 28 Apr 1976. The production lasted 133 days until its completion on the second week of Oct, as stated in the 13 Oct 1976 Var. The 16 Aug 1976 issue of Newsweek detailed how most of the cost went into finding or building the World War II material needed to reenact the Arnhem campaign. Obsolete American Sherman tanks and glider planes had to be completely rebuilt, and the producer had to purchase seven large Dakota planes that had once been used for dropping paratroopers. The film crew constructed eight complete houses in Deventer, the costume unit created 2,200 military uniforms and fifty British actors underwent commando training.
       In an interview in the 17 Jan 1977 DV, Levine revealed that nine million dollars of A Bridge Too Far ’s $25-million budget went to the cast, including Robert Redford’s $500,000 weekly salary (for four weeks).
       A 13 May 1977 DV news item announced that Levine and United Artists chairman Arthur B. Krim had successfully convinced the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) rating-appeals board in New York to change the film's rating from “R” to “PG.” The board had automatically given A Bridge Too Far an “R” because of a “four-letter word” [“fuck”] and several war scenes deemed “too gory.” For the British film market, the producers were going to delete the offending word and trim some of the violence to avoid that country’s “AA” rating, which like the American “R” would have “inhibited children’s attendance.”
       According to 23 Jun 1977 HR, A Bridge Too Far grossed over $5 million in 448 America theaters during its first week in release. United Artists had already begun negotiations to sell the $27-million production to CBS Broadcast Group to air on television, as stated in Var on 22 Jun 1977.
       The film won the following awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA): Best Supporting Actor (Edward Fox); Best Cinematography (Geoffrey Unsworth); Best Soundtrack (Peter Horrocks, Gerry Humphries, Simon Kaye, Robin O'Donoghue and Les Wiggins); and the Anthony Asquith award for Best Original Film Music (John Addison). BAFTA also nominated the film for awards in the following categories: Best Film; Direction (Richard Attenborough); Production Design (Terence Marsh); Editing (Antony Gibbs).
      End credits include an acknowledgement to the following organizations: The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence; The Royal Air Force; 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment; The United States Department of Defense; The Netherlands Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces; The Belgian Ministry of Defence; The Royal Danish Air Force; The Finnish Air Force; The Imperial War Museum, London; The Airborne Forces Museum, Aldershot; The Military Vehicle Museum Ltd. Falmouth, Cornwall; The National Archives, Washington D. C.; The Netherlands Rijkswaterstaat; The Municipality of Nijmegen; and The Municipality and Citizens of Deventer." The following written statement appears as the end credits conclude: "Filmed on location in The Netherlands and the United Kingdom and completed at Twickenham Studios, London, England."
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
31 May 1976.
---
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1977.
---
Daily Variety
13 May 1977
pp. 1-2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1977
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1977.
---
New York Times
16 Jun 1977
p. 20.
Newsweek
16 Aug 1976
p. 67.
Variety
13 Oct 1976.
---
Variety
3 Jun 1977.
---
Variety
8 Jun 1977
p. 23.
Variety
22 Jun 1977.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
2d unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d unit asst dir
PRODUCERS
Pres/Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Aerial photog
2d unit cam op
2d unit cam op
2d unit lighting cam
2d cam op
2d aerial cam op
Parachute cam
Parachute cam
Cam asst
Clapper loader
Cam grip
Elec supv
Chief rigger
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir
Sketch artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Prod buyer
Const mgr
Prop master
Armourer
COSTUMES
Ward master
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd boom op
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Opt eff
Title des
MAKEUP
Make-up supv
Chief hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod consultant
Continuity
Prod accountant
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Casting
Dutch liaison
Military vehicle co-ord
Chief tech adv
Military adv.
Military consultant
STAND INS
Stunt arr
Asst stunt arr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan (New York, 1974).
MUSIC
"Brandenberg Concerto #6," music by Johann Sebastian Bach.
SONGS
"Abide With Me" (1861), words by Henry Frrancis Lyte, music by William Henry Monk.
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 June 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 15 June 1977
Production Date:
28 April--early October 1976
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 May 1977
Copyright Number:
LP47933
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Colour by Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
176
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Languages:
German, English
PCA No:
24875
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A black and white documentary explains that in September 1944, British Field Marshal Montgomery devised a campaign called Operation Market Garden to outflank the German Army in Holland and end World War II by Christmas. The man in charge of implementing Montgomery’s plan is Lt. General Frederick Browning, commander of Britain’s First Allied Airborne Army. Browning briefs his British, American and Polish generals about their mission: 35,000 paratroopers will drop behind German lines in what will be the greatest airborne operation in history. As Lt. General Brian Horrocks’ XXX Corps ground troops advance northward along a narrow Dutch highway toward the city of Arnhem on the German border, Major General Maxwell Taylor’s 101st Airborne Division and Brigadier General James Gavin’s American 82nd Airborne Division will land near several bridges along the way and hold them until Horrocks arrives. British General Roy Urquhart’s First Airborne Army will capture Arnhem, and Major General Sosabowski’s Polish Parachute Brigade will be held in reserve. Urquhart worries that since his troops will parachute in daylight, their only safe drop zones will have to be outside Arnhem, miles from the bridge, but Browning assures him that the only German defenders will be boys and old men. Meanwhile, at German headquarters near Arnhem, Field Marshal Von Runstedt mistakenly guesses that U.S. General Patton will lead the Allied assault directly against Germany. Having studied Patton, Von Runstedt knows what to expect from him. The field marshal orders Lt. General Willi Bittrich to pull two Waffen SS Panzer tank divisions back to Arnhem to rest and make preparations for Patton’s attack. Soon afterward, a Dutch boy riding his bicycle on the outskirts of Arnhem sees a German staff ... +


A black and white documentary explains that in September 1944, British Field Marshal Montgomery devised a campaign called Operation Market Garden to outflank the German Army in Holland and end World War II by Christmas. The man in charge of implementing Montgomery’s plan is Lt. General Frederick Browning, commander of Britain’s First Allied Airborne Army. Browning briefs his British, American and Polish generals about their mission: 35,000 paratroopers will drop behind German lines in what will be the greatest airborne operation in history. As Lt. General Brian Horrocks’ XXX Corps ground troops advance northward along a narrow Dutch highway toward the city of Arnhem on the German border, Major General Maxwell Taylor’s 101st Airborne Division and Brigadier General James Gavin’s American 82nd Airborne Division will land near several bridges along the way and hold them until Horrocks arrives. British General Roy Urquhart’s First Airborne Army will capture Arnhem, and Major General Sosabowski’s Polish Parachute Brigade will be held in reserve. Urquhart worries that since his troops will parachute in daylight, their only safe drop zones will have to be outside Arnhem, miles from the bridge, but Browning assures him that the only German defenders will be boys and old men. Meanwhile, at German headquarters near Arnhem, Field Marshal Von Runstedt mistakenly guesses that U.S. General Patton will lead the Allied assault directly against Germany. Having studied Patton, Von Runstedt knows what to expect from him. The field marshal orders Lt. General Willi Bittrich to pull two Waffen SS Panzer tank divisions back to Arnhem to rest and make preparations for Patton’s attack. Soon afterward, a Dutch boy riding his bicycle on the outskirts of Arnhem sees a German staff car with a distinctive Panzer flag. The boy’s father, working for the Dutch underground, identifies the insignia as belonging to Field Marshal Walter Model and radios the news to England. General Browning ignores the report, but one of his officers, Major Fuller, requests a reconnaissance flight just in case. When three aerial photographs reveal Panzer tanks hiding under trees, Browning insists that the tanks are a ruse. He won’t let three photographs stop the biggest campaign since D-Day at Normandy three months earlier. To discourage any further skepticism, Browning orders Major Fuller to take sick leave. Elsewhere at British headquarters, a communications officer tells one of his men that the army’s radios, designed for the African desert, aren’t strong enough to work in the Dutch lowlands, but he doesn’t want to be the one to tell Browning and “rock the boat.” Days later, XXX Corps prepares to cross the Belgium border into Holland. Lt. Colonel J. O. E. Vandeleur’s Irish Guards will lead the convoy up the sixty-five-mile highway “like the U.S. cavalry” and take Arnhem within two or three days. At the U.S. 82nd Airborne camp, Captain Glass expresses his fears about the operation to his friend, Staff Sergeant Eddie Dohun. When Dohun claims that there’s nothing to worry about, Glass asks the sergeant if he can guarantee that they won’t die. Dohun says he’ll guarantee it. When Model receives a report that Allied planes are dropping paratroopers outside of Arnhem, he concludes that they’ve come to capture him. He moves to General Bittrich’s nearby headquarters, where Major General Ludwig, commander of the two Panzer divisions, insists that the Allies have come not to grab the general but to seize the bridges at Nijmegan and Arnhem. Bittrich takes responsibility for defending Arnhem and sends Ludwig to Nijmegan. Meanwhile, the First Airborne has landed eight miles outside of Arnhem. Urquhart is told that the jeeps haven’t arrived, so they’ll have to reach the bridge on foot, and their radios aren’t able to reach General Browning or the American units farther south. Encountering a dozen laughing escapees from a lunatic asylum, Urquhart asks one of his officers, “Do you think they know something we don’t?” Meanwhile, at the Belgian border, the Irish Guards’ initial success has bogged them down with flaming German vehicles, German prisoners and crowds of Dutch revelers greeting them as liberators. Far ahead up the road, before Colonel Bobby Stout’s 101st Airborne unit can capture the small Son bridge, German artillery shells blow it apart. Farther north, the 82nd Airborne has taken the bridge at Nijmagen, but XXX Corps can’t get there until the Son bridge is replaced. Meanwhile, outside Arnhem, General Bittrich tries to convince Field Marshal Model that they should destroy the bridges before the Allies arrive, but Model insists they will need the bridges when the German Army counterattacks. Even when Ludwig shows Model maps found on a crashed glider, Model insists that they’re British counterintelligence fakes. A few miles away, First Airborne Lt. Colonel John Frost leads the first British troops into Arnhem, but without a working radio he can’t contact anyone. Frost sees Germans on the other side of the bridge and sends a few troops over to test their strength. A machine gun in a nearby bunker opens fire, forcing them to pull back, but later that night a British soldier with a flamethrower goes after the bunker and mistakenly detonates a German ammunition dump. The Germans counterattack the next morning with tanks and armored cars, but Frost’s unit stops them and clutters the bridge with burning vehicles. Taking note of the insignia on the uniforms of several German prisoners, Frost realizes he’s fighting crack Panzer soldiers, not old conscripts. A few miles away, Urquhart, now separated from his own men, comes to the same conclusion. Surrounded by German tanks, he and another officer hide in the attic of a sympathetic Dutch family. Forty-eight miles south of Arnhem, the Irish Guards are stuck in another Dutch village by another liberation festival that fills the streets. Colonel Stout from the 101st Airborne approaches Vandeleur to request pontoon bridges in order to replace the destroyed Son bridge ahead. Farther up the road at Nijmegan, General Gavin discovers that Panzer troops have sealed off the area around his unit. Meanwhile, Sergeant Dohun finds the body of Captain Glass, the man he guaranteed wouldn’t die, puts him in a jeep and, in a long detour around German lines, delivers him to a medical station. When the surgeon tells Dohun to dump the body with all the others, the sergeant points a gun at his head and orders him to check the captain for signs of life. The doctor is surprised to find that the captain is still breathing. Thirty-nine miles south of Arnhem, Colonel Stout’s unit works half the night to build a pontoon bridge across the river so that the British convoy can continue. Outside Arnhem, Urquhart’s British soldiers rescue him from his hiding spot and take him to the First Airborne’s field headquarters. The First is low on food and ammunition, and the Royal Air Force’s drop zones for delivering supplies are in German hands; worse, the British soldiers can’t contact the R.A.F. because the radios don’t work. Meanwhile, when Colonel Frost refuses General Bittrich’s offer to surrender, Bittrich gives the order to “flatten Arnhem” and Panzer tanks begin taking the city apart. Downriver at Nijmegan, General Gavin tells Horrocks that he’s going to retake the Nijmegan bridge, but first he needs boats. The only ones available are rowboats without paddles, so the men will have to use their rifle stocks. Gavin picks Maj. Julian Cook to lead a daylight crossing. The Americans struggle across the river and assemble on the riverbank for a final charge, but Ludwig has placed snipers on the bridge’s superstructure. Cook’s paratroopers are saved by the sudden arrival of Irish Guard tanks. When the Germans try to destroy the bridge with wired explosives, the detonator doesn’t work. Maj. Cook wants to move his battered American forces farther up the road, but the British tankers refuse to move until their supporting infantry units arrive. In Arnhem, Colonel Frost tells his men to sneak out of town in small units and try to make it back to the main force. Frost himself, who is wounded, stays behind with other wounded soldiers to cover the evacuation. The Polish Parachute Brigade has finally joined the campaign, but they are too late. As the Poles drop into Arnhem, German gunners shoot many of them before they reach the ground, and when the Poles try to pontoon their way across the river at night, the Germans illuminate them with flares and shoot most of them before they can reach the opposite bank. Near Arnhem, a Dutch physician, Doctor Spaander, has set up a field hospital, but British casualties overwhelm him. He arranges a cease-fire with the Germans long enough to gather the British wounded and dead. Urquhart’s unit slips away across the river at night to join the British invasion force, which is now only a mile from Arnhem, but that mile is meaningless. Rather than press forward, Browning orders XXX Corps to retreat back down the highway. When Urquhart reaches Browning’s headquarters, he accuses the general of mishandling the campaign, reporting that less than 2,000 of his 10,000 troops made it back and suggesting Market Garden was a disaster. Browning disagrees, telling Urquhart that Field Marshall Montgomery “is proud and pleased” with Market Garden and has deemed it “90% successful.” Browning expresses his opinion that they simply overreached and tried to "go a bridge too far.” Outside Arnhem, as hundreds of wounded British soldiers sing “Abide With Me” in unison, German troops arrive to take them prisoner.

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

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