The Bridge At Remagen

The Bridge At Remagen (1969)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: George Segal, Robert Vaughn, and Ben Gazzara
Extras: Theatrical trailer and collectible booklet

It is March 1945, a mere two months before the end of WWII in Europe, and the focus of both the Allied and German high commands has shifted to the small town of Remagen. In this picturesque village stands the last undamaged bridge over the Rhine. Both sides want the bridge destroyed — the Germans to preserve their last line of natural defense and the Allies to trap an entire German army on their side of the river. Contrary to orders, German Major Krueger (Robert Vaughn) decides to keep the bridge open long enough for the retreating forces to escape to safety. Unfortunately for him, an advance group of the American 9th Armored Division, lead by Lt. Hartman (George Segal), enters the town much sooner than anticipated and, finding the bridge still standing, tries to capture it intact.

The opening scene to the movie really sets the pace, depicting American armored units tearing down roads and railroad tracks at top speed with guns blazing. What this movie does that most others don’t is to show just how fast and furious mechanized warfare can be. The battle for the bridge is just as accurate and intense. The performances are good throughout and help to put a human face on those who will meet in battle.

’The Bridge at Remagen’ is presented in a non-anamorphic, 2.35:1 widescreen format. The print has a few nicks here and there but on the whole is relatively clean. Colors are somewhat muted, mostly due to the drab palette used for this type of film. Brightness and contrast are good with only a few interior scenes coming across as too dark. All in all the picture is quite good.

The audio is presented in it’s original mono, split between the two front speakers. What’s amazing about this mix is just how good the deep bass comes across. The rumble of tanks and abundant explosions all pack more punch than might be expected from a thirty year old film. This is one of the more dynamic mono mixes I’ve heard.

Extras include the theatrical trailer and standard MGM collectible booklet. If you usually ignore these inserts, you may want to take the time to read this one. ’The Bridge at Remagen’ was filmed in Czechoslovakia in 1968, just before the Prague Spring uprisings, and the booklet discusses how the cast and crew were forced to flee across the border in advance of the invading Soviet Army. Not your run of the mill production problems there!

’The Bridge at Remagen’ is a classic war movie that is too often overlooked for its more star-studded brethren such as ’A Bridge Too Far’ and ’The Longest Day.’ Focusing on a single, defining event in the war, the movie offers up fully developed characters and exciting, realistic action. Highly recommended.