The Bridge at Remagen


1h 55m 1969
The Bridge at Remagen

Brief Synopsis

During WWII, German troops fight a desperate battle to hold their position.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
War
Action
Adaptation
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Huntington, West Virginia, opening: 25 Jun 1969
Production Company
Wolper Pictures, Ltd.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Bridge at Remagen by Kenneth William Hechler (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

By early 1945, the last remaining span across the Rhine into Germany is the Ludendorff bridge at Remagen. When General von Brock, the German commander in the area, receives orders to destroy the bridge, he delays rather than abandon 50,000 of his men to the onrushing American soldiers. Placing the aristocratic Maj. Paul Kreuger in charge, von Brock instructs him to hold the bridge as long as possible. At the same time, U. S. Brigadier General Shinner hopes to trap the retreating Germans by ordering an armored infantry division to spearhead a drive for the Rhine. Leading the offensive is Major Barnes, an ambitious career officer who is disliked by most of his men, particularly Lieut. Phil Hartman, his platoon leader. Hartman is also at odds with Sergeant Angelo, a scavenger who searches for valuables on the bodies of the dead German soldiers. Upon reaching a town near Remagen, the Americans prepare to billet for the night, but they are ordered to push on toward the Rhine. Kreuger, meanwhile, is trying to rally his defense forces while waiting for explosives to arrive. Although the Americans meet stiff opposition as they enter Remagen, their tanks crash the barricades and head for the bridge. Kreuger delays dynamiting the bridge to allow a German train to attempt a crossing and then sets off his explosives, only to discover that they are defective. Seizing upon the German failure, General Shinner orders that the bridge be taken intact. By night, the Americans have crossed the bridge after heavy fighting which unites Hartman and Angelo in a common cause. Kreuger, refusing to admit defeat, asks for reinforcements, but he is shot by an SS firing squad for failing to destroy the bridge. The American victory becomes meaningless, however, when in March 1945, the bridge collapses.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
War
Action
Adaptation
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Huntington, West Virginia, opening: 25 Jun 1969
Production Company
Wolper Pictures, Ltd.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Bridge at Remagen by Kenneth William Hechler (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Bridge at Remagen


The taking of a bridge provides the basis for The Bridge at Remagen (1969), an action-packed World War II drama. It's 1945 and the Germans are in retreat.  They hold just one last bridge across the Rhine River ­ at Remagen.  It's vital to the Germans, because they have 50,000 soldiers on the wrong side of the Rhine.  It's also important to the Americans, as capture of the bridge would allow a much quicker end to the war.  Therein lies the drama as both sides prepare to destroy the bridge for strategic reasons.

The Bridge at Remagen was strongly influenced by the war epic, The Longest Day (1962) and has a similar narrative structure which crosscuts between the opposing forces as their actions lead to the final confrontation. Director John Guillermin overcame the deficiencies of a somewhat shallow script (the Germans are presented as little more than stereotypes) by concentrating on solid, fast-paced action sequences. Hal Needham, who later found fame directing Burt Reynolds in hits like Smokey and the Bandit (1977), supervised the fine stunt work; and Stanley Cortez's sharp photography adds grit to the terse battle scenes. The sound effects are ear splitting, but if you like explosions, there are lots of them. A solid casts also helps provide strong characterizations: George Segal (who would soon transition to romantic comedies) is surprisingly good as a tough and uncompromising platoon leader and Ben Gazzara projects a roguish charm as his sidekick. But it's Bradford Dillman, as the ambitious and insidious Major Barnes, who makes the strongest impression as an officer willing to achieve victory at any cost, even if it means sacrificing some troops.

The Czechoslovakian locations are authentic for the most part.  In fact, the last stage of filming was interrupted by the August 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia (brief history lesson: then leader Alexander Duncek was trying to democratize the Czech government, but had his plans suppressed by the Russian government).  The cast and crew were evacuated in a convoy of 28 taxis and the film was completed in Austria and Italy. In a funny postscript after the invasion, communist newspapers and politicians alleged that the film was a CIA project!

Producer: Julian Ludwig (associate producer) (as Julian J. Ludwig), Theodore Strauss (associate producer), David L. Wolper
Director: John Guillermin
Screenplay: Roger O. Hirson (story) (as Roger Hirson), Richard Yates, William Roberts
Production Design: Alfred Sweeney Jr.
Cinematography: Stanley Cortez
Film Editing: William T. Cartwright, Harry V. Knapp, Marshall Neilan Jr.
Original 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).
C-117m. Letterboxed.

by Michael Toole

The Bridge At Remagen

The Bridge at Remagen

The taking of a bridge provides the basis for The Bridge at Remagen (1969), an action-packed World War II drama. It's 1945 and the Germans are in retreat.  They hold just one last bridge across the Rhine River ­ at Remagen.  It's vital to the Germans, because they have 50,000 soldiers on the wrong side of the Rhine.  It's also important to the Americans, as capture of the bridge would allow a much quicker end to the war.  Therein lies the drama as both sides prepare to destroy the bridge for strategic reasons. The Bridge at Remagen was strongly influenced by the war epic, The Longest Day (1962) and has a similar narrative structure which crosscuts between the opposing forces as their actions lead to the final confrontation. Director John Guillermin overcame the deficiencies of a somewhat shallow script (the Germans are presented as little more than stereotypes) by concentrating on solid, fast-paced action sequences. Hal Needham, who later found fame directing Burt Reynolds in hits like Smokey and the Bandit (1977), supervised the fine stunt work; and Stanley Cortez's sharp photography adds grit to the terse battle scenes. The sound effects are ear splitting, but if you like explosions, there are lots of them. A solid casts also helps provide strong characterizations: George Segal (who would soon transition to romantic comedies) is surprisingly good as a tough and uncompromising platoon leader and Ben Gazzara projects a roguish charm as his sidekick. But it's Bradford Dillman, as the ambitious and insidious Major Barnes, who makes the strongest impression as an officer willing to achieve victory at any cost, even if it means sacrificing some troops. The Czechoslovakian locations are authentic for the most part.  In fact, the last stage of filming was interrupted by the August 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia (brief history lesson: then leader Alexander Duncek was trying to democratize the Czech government, but had his plans suppressed by the Russian government).  The cast and crew were evacuated in a convoy of 28 taxis and the film was completed in Austria and Italy. In a funny postscript after the invasion, communist newspapers and politicians alleged that the film was a CIA project! Producer: Julian Ludwig (associate producer) (as Julian J. Ludwig), Theodore Strauss (associate producer), David L. Wolper Director: John Guillermin Screenplay: Roger O. Hirson (story) (as Roger Hirson), Richard Yates, William Roberts Production Design: Alfred Sweeney Jr. Cinematography: Stanley Cortez Film Editing: William T. Cartwright, Harry V. Knapp, Marshall Neilan Jr. Original 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). C-117m. Letterboxed. by Michael Toole

Quotes

Why? How could it happen? Another hundred meters and the Americans would have captured the Ober Kassel Bridge.
- Gen. Von Sturmer
It was the only escape route for our units in that sector.
- Gen. von Brock
Escape route? No. A highway for the American army into the heart of Germany! In any case, the Fuhrer has determined you shall not take such a risk again.
- Gen. Von Sturmer
Not very likely: there's only one bridge left.
- Gen. von Brock
And already it is threatened by the American forces. One breakthrough, a few hours, and this too can be lost. General von Brock, you must prepare to destroy the Remagen bridge at the earliest possible moment.
- Gen. Von Sturmer
Farce! Where are the bombers? Our reinforcements? This is the most important place in Germany, and what do we have to fight with? Old men, riff-raff, the sweepings from the road.
- Capt. Otto Baumann
And you, Baumann. Will you fight as hard as you talk?
- Major Paul Kreuger
You will find out when we attack.
- Capt. Otto Baumann
We're not going to blow that bridge, Barnes, we're going to take it!
- General Shinner
Take it?
- Major Barnes
As long as it's still standing, we've got a chance. When we get out there, cut every wire and cable. Dent, alert HQ. Ask 'em to give us every available unit on the double.
- General Shinner
Yessir.
- Col. Dent
Jesus, sir. I mean, I hate to think of our men in the middle of the bridge when they blow it.
- Major Barnes
It's a crapshoot, Major. Take that bridge and we shorten the war. We're risking a hundred men, but we may save 10,000 -- even 50,000! It's your chance to make history, Major! What you've got to do is throw your men across. Now, Major!
- General Shinner
Get the men up. We're moving out.
- Lt. Phil Hartman
Those men are tired. They'll kill us.
- Sgt. Angelo
They're so happy we didn't find any Germans here, they want us to keep going until we do.
- Lt. Phil Hartman
How do you know Stadt Beckenheim isn't crawling with Germans? What if they unload on us?
- Lt. Phil Hartman
Then we'll know, won't we, Lieutenant?
- Major Barnes

Trivia

Filming in Czechoslovakia was interrupted by the Soviet invasion of August 1968. Cast and crew were evacuated in a convoy of 28 taxis.

Notes

Filmed on location in Czechoslovakia, West Germany, and Italy.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 1969

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States Summer June 1969