This war film, couldn't be more different to the one that just preceded it. It really is 'just that' a film about the war, or more accurately a very specific battle that was one of many such engagements during that long interminable campaign.
Like it's predecessor, it has an absolutely 'stellar' cast. Other than the actors who were in the afore-mentioned Kelly's Heroes, there are very few major Hollywood stars of the period both English and American who don't have a speaking part in this film.
It is of course about the infamous attempt by the Allies' to take control of several key bridges in the Netherland's in order to facillitate a major push into Germany itself. The plan itself called 'Operation Market Garden' as outlined by Edward Fox's Gen. Horrock's relies on a number of key moving pieces which ALL have to align in order for the plan as a whole to work.
As anybody who's ever watched a war film can tell you (something often quoted), is that NO plan ever survives first contact with the enemy. The more intricate the plan, the more likely it is to founder. 'Operation Market Garden' is a VERY intricate plan. VERY, VERY intricate. It starts to go wrong, even before any of the 60,000 plus men that have been committed to the operation have even left British soil and continues to go wrong until the decision is made to pull the suviving soldiers out.
The film is brilliant directed by Richard Attenborough and equally brilliantly acted by everybody (with the exception of Gene Hackman's General Sosabowski's somewhat dodgy Polish accent). The set-piece battle scenes are some of the best ever rendered to film, in my opinion and the ending leaves one to question - was any of it worth it? One of the final scenes, sees all of the General's who were part of the battle recounting all of the various things which led to the failure of the plan as a whole. There's quite a list...
As I said at the outset, a film about the war. One that graphically illustrates the random futility of it all. At the time of writing this, Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk is looming large on the horizon and seems to take a similar tack and tone toward a specific engagement during WW2. In my eyes though, A Bridge Too Far is a definite candidate for one of the best - if not, the best - war films ...ever. Whether or not Dunkirk can knock it off of it's top spot, remains to be seen.