BRIDGE AT REMAGEN, THE(director: John Guillermin; screenwriters: story by Roger Hirson/Roger Hirson)/Richard Yates/William Roberts; cinematographer: Stanley Cortez; editors: William T. Cartwright/Harry V. Knapp/Marshall Neilan Jr.; music: Elmer Bernstein; cast: George Segal (Lieutenant Phil Hartman), Robert Vaughn (Major Paul Kreuger), Ben Gazzara (Sergeant Angelo), Bradford Dillman (Major Barnes), E.G. Marshall (Brigadier General Shinner), Hans Christian Blech (Capt. Carl Schmidt), Peter Van Eyck (General von Brock); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: David L. Wolper; United Artists; 1968)
“This film is similar to most NBA games, you could have watched only the last ten minutes and not missed a thing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Guillermin (“The Towering Inferno”/”Shaft in Africa”/”Death on the Nile”) helms this heavy-handed message war drama that tells us “war is insane” and uses the bridge as a metaphor to thump us over the head that it was sheer stupidity for both sides to fight over the bridge and risk so many casualties when the war was just about over.

The dreary WW II action drama is based on a true story that concerns the fight over the insignificant Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen—the last crossing across the Rhine into Germany during the final days of the war in March of 1945, where the Germans made their last stand. It’s based on the story by Roger Hirson and the thin plot is written by Hirson, Richard Yates and William Roberts. The Cliché-ridden story plods along until the action packed climactic battle over the bridge. The acting was stale, the explosions are loud and frequent—which should waken those nodding out during the lulls in action—and, for most, it’s predictable if they only have the ability to recall who won the war. Maybe history buffs would find this war drama more worthwhile than others, even though the facts are sketchy.

It was filmed in Czechoslovakia in 1968; but when Russia invaded, to complete the film, the location was changed to Austria and Italy.

Lieutenant Phil Hartman (George Segal) is the grizzled American platoon leader of the 9th Armored Division pushing ahead to blow up the bridge at Remagen before the Germans and thereby trap 50,000 retreating German soldiers before they can cross it. Hartman’s roguish Sergeant Angelo (Ben Gazzara) is a scavenger who searches for valuables on the bodies of the dead German soldiers, and brings a sense of comic relief in between explosions. Brigadier General Shinner (E.G. Marshall) is the leader who is willing to sacrifice his men if it means possibly shortening the war, as he decides not to blow up the bridge but save it for his own troops to cross. Major Barnes (Bradford Dillman) is the dutiful officer who commands Hartman to take the bridge, knowing the Germans are prepared to blow it up as soon as the Americans approach. The Major promises Hartmen a medal if he succeeds, which makes the lieutenant furious.

General von Brock (Peter Van Eyck) is the disillusioned German commander in charge of the area, who receives orders from his top command to destroy the bridge. But he delays carrying out that order rather than abandon his 50,000 soldiers to the attacking American soldiers, and places the aristocratic Maj. Paul Kreuger (Robert Vaughn) in charge with instructions to hold the bridge as long as possible.

The American victory, at a heavy price to both sides, becomes meaningless, however, when ten days later the bridge collapses.

This film is similar to most NBA games, you could have watched only the last ten minutes and not missed a thing.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”