Screenwriter William Goldman called this movie his generation's answer to The Longest Day (1962), and it's a fairly apt analogy. A Bridge Too Far was, like Day, based on a book by historian Cornelius Ryan, and has a galaxy of stars, including Sir Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, Sean Connery, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Hardy Krueger, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, Maximilian Schell, James Caan, Elliott Gould, and Liv Ullman. It also reflects the 1970s in that it is a far darker, less patriotic film (it examines the disastrous battle of Arnhem, in which a division of British paratroopers was nearly wiped out) than the almost jingoistic Day, which trumpeted the Allies' successful D-Day landing. Yet, as directed by Sir Richard Attenborough and lensed by cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, the film is far superior to The Longest Day. The film is gorgeous, and the Oscar-winning Goldman handles the plot's necessary exposition far more deftly than did Ryan, who wrote The Longest Day. That's the film's primary improvement on Day and it's significant. The film is also bloodier, which makes the battle scenes more realistic. A Bridge Too Far is a good movie that tells a terrible story of a military disaster. It's long, it's detailed, it won't cheer you up, but it may engross you.
by Nick Sambides, Jr. review