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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 9 January 2017
This is a much-overlooked film that I have seen several times, and it never fails to impress, particularly knowing its vintage. It may not be Private Ryan, but it is probably nearly as true to life. The acting is overall superb, but it is the human factor that sets it aside as a truly great movie. It oozes cynicism, as well as compassion - facial expressions tell an entire story and the small details of dialogue and events show the futility of this situation as the war comes to a close, as does the attitude of the Germans, both civilian and soldier, "innocent" Nazi-hating inn-keeper or terrified refugee, is extremely telling. The combat scenes smack of realism as do the authentic trucks, tanks and aircraft (check out the Mitchell bombers and the P-51s riding shotgun). This is a truly great war movie, make no mistake.
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Like so many films whose subject is WWII, this one is based, in part, on real events. But, again, as is typical, more than a small amount of license has been used in jazzing things up. The core of the narrative - that the Remagen bridge was captured intact despite the Germans trying to blow it up - is true enough, but the exact manner and the details are not.

But the main point, for me at any rate, is that this is a rip-snorting good war movie: full of action, with characters on both sides we can both admire and/or detest, well plotted and directed, with enough attention paid to authenticity of uniform and equipment to be credible, etc. And this baby fires on all cylinders.

All the principal leads, George Segal and Ben Gazzara on the US/Allied side and Robert Vaughan on the German, are excellent, as are many of the supporting cast. I always like to see Hans Christian Blech, who's in very well known The Longest Day and more obscure Decision Before Dawn, but is always good. Bradford Dillman is an American officer that the rank and file love to hate, and Günter Meisner is appropriately horrible as an ardently Nazi SS officer.

The plot, grounded as it is in historical reality, with the Germans torn between allowing their own troops to withdraw, and preventing the Allies capturing the bridge, makes for a gripping and exciting scenario. This basic premise is expertly handled and creatively elaborated by producer David Wolper and director John Guillermin (the latter also directed I Was Monty's Double and The Blue Max), and has a good stirring score by Elmer Bernstein.

The lines between myth and reality in relation to war are, I find, fascinating. But I feel one can separate the vicarious thrills - and this movie is packed with those - from the more serious issues, and therefore enjoy this on numerous levels, from the dumber kick-ass stuff to the deeper moral questions.

On the one hand this is a typical traditional war movie, but on the other it's also of the more contemporary 'war is hell' type, and it both questions and propagates many myths, old and new, about life during wartime. We get to see the plight of the wounded, the impact on the civilian population, and the disillusionment of both Allied and German troops and commanders.

All things considered, this is simply a top-drawer war film, and I for one would highly recommend it to lovers of the period and genre.
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on 14 May 2017
An interesting war film
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on 24 July 2017
A very good film
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on 7 April 2017
Good film set around the final push for Berlin. The race for the allies to keep up with the German retreat and the last bridge over the Rhine.
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on 18 June 2017
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on 5 March 2015
Absolutely recommended war movie, must see picture.
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on 29 May 2017
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Nothing that happens onscreen in The Bridge at Remagen is half as interesting as what happened behind the scenes. After shooting in Germany or Italy was deemed too expensive, to keep the budget down the producers decided to film the WW2 epic in Czechoslovakia, with the Czech government even allowing them to blow up most of the town of Most. Unfortunately they chose to shoot in 1968, and the Russians spread the rumour that the film was a ruse to allow America to secretly send in troops and tanks and occupy the country and that desperate Czechs were begging the Russian army to liberate then from this American invasion - which, as humanitarians, they duly did that August, causing the film crew to bolt for the border in a fleet of 28 taxis and end up filming in Italy and Germany after all.

A heavily fictionalised account of the battle for the last bridge standing over the Rhine in the dying days of WW2 when the Germans were turning on themselves and the Allies were recklessly racing each other to get to Berlin first, it's less A Bridge Too Far and more a particularly lavish old-fashioned combat movie with plenty of nods to late 60s cynicism. Director John Guillermin marshals his often impressive forces well, and the film certainly delivers spectacle - it blows one real bridge up before the opening credits and most of the town of Most for real in an air raid sequence - while there's some excellent helicopter photography in the opening scenes to emphasise the speed of the race to the Rhine and the scale of the film. An undervalued craftsman, his direction is the film's strongest card, elevating the film from its fairly predictable but decent enough script.

The characters are very much of the stock variety, with added sixties cynicism - George Segal's war-weary lieutenant leading an ever-depleting unit, Ben Gazzara's opportunistic looter out to make the war pay, Bradford Dillman's ambitious officer always ready to volunteer his men for dirty jobs to advance his career, Robert Vaughn's good German officer trying to do the right thing, Peter van Eyck's disillusioned general, Hans Christian Blech's usual disillusioned regular officer - but generally hold their own against the increasingly spectacular destruction better than you might expect. But for all the anti-war sentiments, this is a film about shock and awe, all the more so thanks to demolishing huge buildings and chunks of real estate for real rather than resorting to model shots. Whether it's an air raid on a bridge crowded with refugees or an entire street collapsing into a cloud of smoke, Guillermin knows just how to showcase it for the maximum effect while Stanley Cortez' cinematography and the special effects department pull off one real visual coup when the smoke from a massive explosion clears to reveal... well, that's worth seeing for yourself.

It also has an excellent score by Elmer Bernstein. Although some of the incidental cues are in the same vein as the suspense scoring in The Great Escape and other quieter moments hark back to the more mournful passages of his small-town Americana scores, the terrific driving main title theme is pretty much unique in his work and easily one of his most memorable.

There was a half-hour 1969 promotional documentary about the making of the film, The Warmakers, but that's not included on the DVD (The Hun from UNCLE also played himself in a 2007 BBC Radio play about the making of the film, Solo Behind the Iron Curtain, produced after the DVD was released). The only extra is a trailer - and on the Region 2 PAL release all the captions and narration have been removed, as is MGM/UA's wont. The transfer is also somewhat frustrating: a sharp 2.35:1 widescreen release without excessive noise reduction, it doesn't always cope well with rapid motion in some shots. It's acceptable but disappointing enough to knock a star off the rating.
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on 18 October 2015
If you like New Hollywood war films this is one of the better ones, which tells the story of the US 1st Army troops trying to get over the Rhine to establish a foothold into the Third Reich as WW2 nears its conclusion. Who are the real heroes? The Americans, driven by the generals who don't care how many casualties they suffer taking the bridge, or the Germans, fighting to protect their homeland even if that same homeland is run by a tyrannical dictatorship? There's no great acting overall, but it's a solid well-made war film with enough action to keep you involved.
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