Published on July 31st, 2008 | by Chris0
The Bridge at Remagen (1969)
If I had to choose a word to describe 1969's The Bridge at Remagen, it would be *angry*. That's just the feeling I had coming away from this movie. Everyone in this movie is pissed off, all the time. But that doesn't necessarily make for a bad film.
The Germans have been ordered to destroy the bridge at Remagen rather than have it fall into enemy hands, however, General von Brock (Peter Van Eyck) orders Major Krueger (Robert Vaugn) to keep it open as long as possible, in order to give the retreating Germans a chance to escape.
Meanwhile, on the Allied side, Lt. Hartman (George Segal) and his squad, led by Sgt. Angelo (Ben Gazzara) are charged with preventing said destruction, and of course, all hell breaks loose.
In typical 60's angry fashion, just when you think its over, its not, and the real massacre starts. The Germans make a last ditch effort to blow the bridge, but it fails. Practially everyone dies in the ensuing fight on both sides, and the Allies finally get some reinforcements and blow the Nazis all to hell, taking a few key prisoners. You have to love the equally cynical closing plates, where they tell us (paraphrased) "None of it mattered, since the bridge collapsed of its own accord a few weeks later...."
But the anger is just too much to handle! Hartman is pissed because he doesn't want this command, or this mission. Angelo is just pissed, well, I guess because he's there. He loots the bodies of the dead and just walks around sneering and growling all the time with that stereotypical chewed-up cigar in his teeth. Not 'til the end where he has to dispatch a young Hitler Youth sniper does he really display any sort of emotion other than angst, and it actually works here.
If you're after a good old-fashioned war movie, with lots of gunfire, tanks, explosions, and the stereotypical soldier-types on both sides, then The Bridge at Remagen is right up your alley. I can't really say that anyone's performance really stands out as either spectacular or subpar. Although for some reason I'm not quite buying Vaughn's performance as the German Major. Maybe its his total lack of an accent when all the Germans around him seem to carry one, or that whole "Man from Uncle" spectre that kept creeping into my head... I dunno, I just think that role was miscast.
One thing that did drive me absolutely insane about this picture was the reliance, and dare I say overuse of the stock war sound effects reels. Maybe this is just a product of the technology available, but after the umpteenth time you hear that same, "KaPOW!" explosion (you know the one I mean) and the "PewPewPew!" machine gun ricochet effect (yeah, that one! The one that sounds like a metal cable getting "twanged") it really gets old, to the point of almost funny.
All gripes aside, The Bridge at Remagen stands as an example of the perfect "middle of the road" popular war movie. Not bad, but not particularly great, either. I'm not sure I'd watch it again, but I am glad I got to see it.
A side note, the aspect ratio on the DVD I watched appeared to be messed up somehow. When it started, I was thinking, "Aw, cool! Cinemascope!" (2.66:1) but it turns out it was just "squashed" vertically and I had to tweak the view on my TV to show it in the proper 2.35:1 ratio. It wasn't just a case of 4:3 vs 16:9, but something different. A minor gripe.
Bridge At Remagen The
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Fine casting, rugged characters, and authentic military detail make The Bridge at Remagen one of the best World War II action films of the 1960s. Based on actual incidents during the final Allied advance on Germany in March 1945, the story focuses on the U...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Manufacturer: MGM (Video & DVD)
Original Release Date:
- George Segal
- Robert Vaughn
- Ben Gazzara
- Bradford Dillman
- E.G. Marshall
Summary: All gripes aside, The Bridge at Remagen stands as an example of the perfect "middle of the road" popular war movie.