"I'm awfully sorry, but I'm afraid we're going to have to occupy your house"

Recently, dragging my eyes away from even the crappiest of Hollywood's shiny new tat has felt like hard work. It doesn't help when a 'must-see classic' like Marathon Man leaves me cold. Thankfully my mind was bashed open again by The Day the Earth stood still (1951) and I've been on a bit of a roll since. I've seen loads of belters in the last 2 weeks but I just had to say something extra about my favourite, A Bridge Too Far (1977).

Based on the story of a strategic misfire by the Allied forces towards the end of World War II, it's an unconventional war tale retold expertly by director Richard Attenborough.

In 1944 Paratroopers representing Britain, the U.S. and Poland (amongst others) were flown in over eastern Holland to take over a series of bridges on the River Rhine. A bold strategic maneuver made in order to give geographical advantage to the Allied forces and speed up the retreat of the German army. Suffice it to say it doesn't all go smoothly and… well, the rest would be spoilers.

A cast like I've never seen make this one a reet treat, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Michael Caine, Sean Connery and Gene Hackman most memorably. With turns from James Caan, Robert Redford and someone called Laurence Oliver or something. Everyone does a great job 'Hack'mans dodgy Polish accent aside and the star personas are not distracting in any way (Tom Cruise makes no appearance). After seeing the amazing battle scenes with hundreds and hundreds of extras, a real city that looks one quarter demolished, the epically suspenseful long-take tracking scene with James Caan's Jeep in the forest, you can't help but find yourself muttering the old adage "They don't make them like this anymore".
Sprinkled with enough British charm and wit to make you spit crumpet into your tea and with cinematography that has you nodding and exclaiming "oh yes, world class" repeatedly to your disinterested partner, the story is complex yet clear. We move between plot strands often enough to make the 3 hour duration totally immersive and entertaining. Turn on, jump in and jog on old chap. But put the kettle on first would you? Jolly good.


Britarded said...

Posted 1 minute ago and already bumped down one.... cripes

La Sporgenza said...

I haven't seen Marathon Man in years but remember liking it back in the day. What didn't you like about it? It's also been too long since I watched A Bridge Too Far and it was likely a crappy pan and scan VHS when I did. I'll bet it looks great in widescreen on DVD. On deck to watch it tonight.

Britarded said...

Yeah, Marathon Man I thought suffered terribly from bad pacing. I have no doubt that the Bill Goldman script was a right belter but it got lost in translation I think. I can stand being in the dark for maybe 40 minutes but after that I get twitchy, the first hour of Marathon Man is all shrouded in mystery and new characters keep getting introduced and then new relationships between these characters are revealed. Half of which seem irrelevant by the end of the film. The last 25 minutes are really good actually and I like the premise of an ex Nazi general hiding out in a modern day New York. If the film had started with that instead of being all coy (like 'that girl' who you know really has no personality anyway) it could've been better. Frankly as is, it's frustrating, confusing and annoying with a climactic finale that just doesn't payoff enough to justify the preceding hour of knob all. Herzog should do a remake...................................................................................hold!.......................................................now cut.

Juliette said...

A Bridge Too Far is an awesome epic movie, incidentally Sir Laurence Olivier was a legendary actor who was Anthony Hopkins mentor!

Good site, will read more, thank you

Anthony Hopkins movies