❉ The latest in our occasional series of reviews of Twilight Time Movies classic Blu-ray and DVD titles.
Released in 1969, The Bridge at Remagen is as sturdy as sturdy gets, an old-school war film with a driving sense of dramatic purpose and impressive physical production values, directed with and iron-fist by action-adventure specialist John Guillermin, whose other credits include The Towering Inferno, King Kong, Death on the Nile, and Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure.
Shot on location in Czechoslovakia and based on Ken Hechler’s book The Bridge at Remagen: The Amazing Story of March 7, 1945, screenwriters Roger O. Hirson (Demon Seed, Pieces of Dreams), Richard Yates (Revolutionary Road), and William Roberts (The Last American Hero, The Devil’s Brigade) took the backdrop of the book’s focus, and spun a mostly fictionalized tale of heroics and battle-field bravery, depicting the 9th Armored Division’s attempt at capturing the Ludendorff Bridge, with the final push of Allied troops into Germany being readied for combat. I’m a big fan of this macho cinematic milieu, where the narratives were streamlined and focused, with no unnecessary cut-away-distractions.
The film is a no-nonsense piece of business that has a terrific cast, including George Segal, Robert Vaughn, Ben Gazzara, Bradford Dillman, Hans Christian Blech, Peter van Eyck, and E.G. Marshall, with everyone getting their moment to shine. Segal is the seen-it-all leader of the group, while Vaughn is the German enemy, who’ll stop at nothing to make sure that the bridge doesn’t fall to the Americans.
The production package on The Bridge at Remagen is one of the film’s biggest selling points. Elmer Bernstein’s blustery score provides just the proper amount of audio bombast while the excellent 2.35:1 widescreen cinematography by Stanley Cortez (The Magnificent Ambersons, The Night of the Hunter) is eye-filling, maximizing all of the action set pieces by shooting in classical fashion, with lots of wonderful wide-shots that clearly establish spatial relations without ever feeling stodgy. William Cartwright’s crisp editing wastes not a moment of the 115 minute running time, and production designer Alfred Sweeney did a superb job of balancing studio-set work and on-location filming.
Legendary producer David L. Wolper (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, L.A. Confidential) put this project together for United Artists, and to his big-time credit, this is a massive looking movie at times, and very underrated overall within the genre. It’s interesting to note that during filming in 1968, the Soviet Army invaded Czechoslovakia in an effort to re-install a Communist regime, which forced the film’s cast and crew to flee to the West via taxicab. As per usual, the folks at Twilight Time have delivered a limited edition, region-free Blu-ray that fans will definitely appreciate. The visual transfer is aces, with strong colors and well-defined blacks that never seem overly processed. The 1.0 DTS-HD MA audio track is as good as it will get for a film of this caliber made at the time that it was made. Special features include an isolated musical score and the film’s original theatrical trailer.
❉ Twilight Time Movies release classic catalogue Blu-ray and DVD titles available for a limited time, exclusively in limited runs of 3000 copies. For more information, visit https://www.twilighttimemovies.com
❉ Nick Clement is a freelance writer, having contributed to Variety Magazine, Hollywood- Elsewhere, Awards Daily, Back to the Movies, and Taste of Cinema. He’s currently writing a book about the works of filmmaker Tony Scott, and co-operates the website Podcasting Them Softly.
❉ He is also a regular contributor for MovieViral.com, a site dedicated to providing the best news and analysis on viral marketing and ARG campaigns for films and other forms of entertainment.