Bridge at Remagen (1969)

 

 

Director:  John Guillermin. 

Cast:  George Segal (Lt. Phil Hartman), Robert Vaughn (Maj. Paul Kreuger), Ben Gazzara (Sgt. Angelo), Bradford Dillman (Maj. Barnes), E.G. Marshall (Brig. Gen. Shinner), Peter Van Eyck (Gen. Von Brock), Matt Clark (Col. Jellicoe), Fritz Ford (Col. Dent), Tom Heaton (Lt. Pattison), Bo Hopkins (Cpl. Grebs), Robert Logan (Pvt. Bissell), Paul Prokop (Capt. Colt), Steve Sandor (Pvt. Slavek), Frank Webb (Pvt. Glover), Hans Christian Blech (Capt. Carl Schmidt), Joachim Hansen (Capt. Otto Baumann), Gunter Meisner (S.S. Gen. Gerlach), Richard Munch (Field Marshal Von Sturmer), Heinz Reinke (Emil Holzgang), Sonja Ziemann (Greta Holzgang), Vit Olmer (Lt. Zimring), Rudolf Jelinek (Pvt. Manfred), Anna Gael (The Girl).

Allies try to commandeer the last bridge standing over the Rhine River, but have to battle the retreating Germans who want the bridge destroyed.

 

 

This is a good war movie with lots of actions and suspense.  The basic facts are true, but the story is fictional.  Gen. Von Brock (Peter Van Eyck) is given the job of destroying the Remagen Bridge.  But the general realizes that such an action would strand some 75,000 German troops on the western side of the Rhine River.  The order, however, came from Hitler himself.  The general assigns Major Paul Kreuger (Robert Vaughn) to destroy the bridge, but he is instructed to hold the bridge as long as possible to allow the German troops to escape. 

Major Kreuger expects to have a force1,600 men and boys to protect the bridge, but when he actually arrives at the bridge he is told that he has a force of only 200. 

Meanwhile, the Americans are advancing rapidly west to Remagen to destroy the only bridge left on the Rhine.  The destruction of the bridge would mean cutting off what they estimate at 50,000 German troops from escaping over the Rhine.  The 27th Armored Infantry under Major Barnes (Bradford Dillman) is given the job of rushing to Remagen.  The unit at point is led by Lt. Phil Hartman (George Segal), who is extremely unenthusiastic about having to be on the front edge of the assault.  There is a side show of the friction, plus affection, between Lt. Hartman and his sergeant, Sergeant Angelo (Ben Gazzara). 

Will the unit arrive in time to blow the bridge, thereby trapping the 75,000 German troops?  That's where the suspense comes in. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

Spoiler warning:

Remagen, Germany is located in the Bundesland of  Rhineland-Palatinate, district Ahrweiler, on the Rhine River southeast of Bonn and northwest of Koblenz.. 

World War I  --  German generals had a bridge, the Ludendorff Bridge, built at Remagen to facilitate the movement of troops and materials to the Western front.  Karl Wiener, a Mannheim architect, designed the bridge. It was one of the finest steel bridges over the Rhine. 

World War II  --  as the Allied forces approached closer and closer, the Germans tried, but failed, to blow up the bridge.

1945 (March 7)  --  an advance guard of the US. 9th Armored Division under Lt. Karl H. Timmermann captured Remagen's Ludendorff Bridge during Operation Lumberjack.  (Hitler had four officers executed for the loss of the bridge to the Allies.)

1945 (March 17)  --  the bridge collapsed into the Rhine killing 28 American soldiers.  The Allies built a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Rhine.

 

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