• Bridge At Remagen, The



    Released by: Twilight Time
    Released on: June 13, 2017
    Directed by: John Guillermin
    Cast: George Segal, Robert Vaughn, Ben Gazzara, Bradford Dillman, E.G. Marshall, Peter van Eyck, Hans Christian Blech, Heinz Reincke, Joachim Hansen, Sonja Ziemann, Anna Gael, Bo Hopkins, Robert Logan, Matt Clark, Steve Sandor
    Year: 1969
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movies:

    Remagen is a German town about an hour from Cologne. Because of its position along the River Rhine, it was a strategic location to move goods. During World War I, the Ludendorff Bridge was built there to help relocate soldiers and equipment from East to West to help shore up the Western front and support the push into France. The bridge contained towers with places for machine guns to protect it from invaders. During World War II, train tracks were replaced by planks to allow for the movement of motor vehicles. In 1945, as the Allies pressed into Germany, one of their major offensives was to take control of the bridge and the movement of supplies. Explosives had been built into the bridge by the Germans, but their attempt to blow it up completely failed. They even launched missiles, to no avail. By the end of the offensive, the bridge was in Allied hands; it collapsed not long after, but not before changing the course of the war.

    In 1957, a former soldier, war historian, and future politician, Ken Hechler, published an account of the Battle of Remagen. The book, titled The Bridge at Remagen: The Amazing Story of March 7, 1945, interviewed innumerable soldiers involved in the offensive. It was also the perfect fodder for the movies, and pre-production on a film adaptation began in 1967. Throughout 1968, primary photography took place in what is now the Czech Republic. At the time, Czechoslovakia was being invaded by Russia, who was upset at the country’s increasingly progressive government. Because of this, the American production team had to be careful to protect its actors, whom the Russians believed were real soldiers. For the film, the names of the historical participants were changed; thus, Lieutenant Karl Timmermann becomes Lt. Phil Hartman; Major Hans Scheller becomes Major Paul Kreuger; Sergeants Alexander Drabik and Joseph DeLisio are amalgamated into Sergeant Angelo; Major Murray L. Deevers becomes Major Barnes; Brigadier General William Hoge becomes General Shinner; and so on.

    Despite a great deal of creative license, The Bridge at Remagen is a bit schizophrenic in its approach, with a script that treats every little incident as a separate story in service of a larger whole—without connecting them effectively. The result is an overlong affair that stretches out its rather thin historical premise with a series of character-building sequences which feel a bit redundant. Whether Nazi commanders or American lieutenants, the personalities are generally unlikeable, both in the writing and the way they’re played. Performances are by no means bad (Segal and Gazzara are particularly good), but they aren’t all that diverse either, leading to dialogue-driven scenes that become rather stale after a while. Thankfully, the action scenes are excellent. They’re well staged and always exciting. Too bad some of the exposition wasn’t cut; a 90-minute film retaining all the same action sequences but less of the talk would have come close to perfection.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Twilight Time presents United Artist’s classic wartime drama The Bridge to Remagen in an MPEG-4 AVC encoded Blu-ray in 1080p high definition. The film is placed on the disc in its original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1, and the results are simply stunning. There’s some minor dirt and debris during the opening credits and some minor print damage around the 20 minutes mark. Otherwise, this is a sharp, colorful release that represents the best the format has to offer. The Czechoslovakian locations, which are mostly made up of fields, forests, and rolling hills, offer various shades of green and brown that stand out in relief against each other, while foliage, European structures, and dirt roads reveal a deep layer of detail and texture, all of it supported by a fine layer of filmic grain. This is a transfer that is likely to please even the most demanding of viewers. The lines etched across the actors’ faces, every wrinkle and untended thread of their military uniforms, the nuance in every image is clearly delineated. Neither noise reduction nor sharpening tools appear to have been used, and the few soft spots that appear occur when in-camera zooms were used as part of the original production. In those rare cases, the grain is a little stronger while detail is a little less impressive. Overall, however, this is a beautiful presentation on a dual-layered BD50. The film is presented region free.

    For the primary soundtrack, TT has opted for lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (mono). Despite the lack of direction, the sound is clean and fairly robust. Dialogue is strong and understandable, and the track handles the many explosions, gunfire, and other effects with aplomb. For those who love Elmer Bernstein’s score, it’s provided on an isolated track in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Twilight Time also provides optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired.

    The only extra is an original theatrical trailer. Liner notes are provided by film historian Julie Kirgo in an 8-page booklet that also features color stills and a reproduction of the original U.S. poster art. Kirgo’s notes are simultaneously informative and entertaining, written in her usual style, a heady mix of breezy and academic.

    The disc also includes an on-screen catalog of TT’s BD releases, noting those that have gone into moratorium.

    The Bridge at Remagen is limited to 3,000 units.

    The Final Word:

    Despite being too long, The Bridge at Remagen does contain some terrific action sequences, and there’s no better way to see them than in this hi-def release. Detail and color are gorgeous. The extras are limited, but this is a long film, so the lack of them just gives the film more space to occupy on the disc.

    Christopher Workman is a freelance writer, film critic, and co-author (with Troy Howarth) of the Tome of Terror horror film review series. Horror Films of the Silent Era and Horror Films of the 1930s is currently available, with Horror Films of the 1940s due out in 2018.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!



















    Comments 1 Comment
    1. SuperDevilDoctor's Avatar
      SuperDevilDoctor -
      Robert Vaughn gets a great final scene in this.
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