WWII Classic Hits Limited Edition Blu-ray from Twilight Time

George Segal, Ben Gazzara and Robert Vaughn star in 1969’s The Bridge At Remagen, which recently arrived on Twilight Time Blu-ray.

I’m not sure exactly what the difference is between all of these 1960s World War II films, or why some are regarded as classic and others less remembered. It seems pretty arbitrary, really. A great example of that latter type is The Bridge at Remagen, directed by John Guillermin and produced by David L. Wolper.

It’s a solid, pulpy, action-packed, mostly bloodless, and highly fictionalized take on one of the war’s key battles. In other words, just like pretty much every other World War II movie of that era.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are exceptions. Some, like The Dirty Dozen or Hell In The Pacific, deserve their greatness because they carved out a specific identity. And I don’t mean to sound cynical, the fact is that I like these movies.

But maybe it’s just because there are so darn many of them; but some, like The Bridge at Remagen, have been cast aside nearly 50 years later. And that’s a shame because this is a good movie.

The battle concerns an unassuming bridge over the Rhein River, which becomes a valuable military target after all the other viable bridges have been systematically destroyed, either by Allies trying to keep Germans in, and Germans trying to keep Allies out. The film follows a company of American troops under Maj. Barnes (Bradford Dillman), including Lt. Phil Hartman (George Segal) and Sgt. Angelo (Ben Gazzara). The outfit is thoroughly exhausted from being pushed too far too fast, and tasked with waging a battle against German forces under the command of the crafty Maj. Paul Kreuger (Robert Vaughn).

The film is very concerned with blind obedience, and the questioning of orders, on both sides of the battle. The American troops resent their snivelly superior, Maj. Barnes, who readily throws them into danger but stinks of cowardice himself. At one point, the heated argument even comes to blows. Meanwhile, Kreuger delays Hitler’s order to destroy the bridge and instead tries to defend it, knowing that its destruction would effectively spell entrapment — that tactical decision has far-reaching ramifications.

The film has several action sequences, but most notably a tense firefight in which US forces scramble to disarm live bombs on the bridge, even as the Germans attempt set them off using a backup detonator.

While it mostly carries itself like an action picture, it does veer on occasion into more sober observances. Remagen’s German defense, for example, is bolstered by civilians and young boys, and the death of a child offers perhaps the darkest moment of horror.

The Package

The Bridge at Remagen is available now on Blu-ray from Twilight Time in a Limited Edition of 3000 units. The package features their usual format: a clear case and 8-page booklet featuring writing by Julie Kirgo.

Special Features and Extras

A rather fascinating incident took place while the film was being shot in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Real-life Soviet forces invaded the country and the cast and crew had to flee. This would’ve been in incredible story to revisit, and made for some incredible behind-the-scenes conversation, but alas there’s no such material to be found on this disc, whose features are limited to an isolated score and trailer.

Isolated Score Track

Highlighting the music by Elmer Bernstein

Theatrical Trailer (3:05)

Parting Thoughts:

The Bridge at Remagen isn’t notably great, but it’s also not out of step with the many, many well-regarded and better-remembered WWII films of the era. With thoughtful themes and a decent cast, this is a solid one to check out if you are a fan of the genre.

A/V Out.

Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have slight compression inherent to file formats. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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