Blu-ray Review: The Bridge at Remagen - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Old-school World War II actioner The Bridge at Remagen arrives on Blu-ray, looking quite wonderful despite the passage of 48 years since its summer of '69 release, via reissue label Twilight Time. That means it's a limited edition (3,000 total units issued). The film centers on the Battle of Remagen, in which the 9th Armored Division of the U.S. First Army was tasked with securing the Ludendorff Bridge. While German forces had demolished most bridges across the Rhine, this one remained crossable, thereby providing a strategically important point of entry for Allied troops into Germany.

Director John Guillermin (also director of the Twilight Time-released World War I epic The Blue Max), along with screenwriters William Roberts and Richard Yates (Revolutionary Road novelist; Remagen was his sole screenplay credit during his lifetime), take expected liberties with the true story. But this is the kind of tale that often inspires viewers to delve deeper into the real history. The battle for control of the bridge is depicted as a struggle between U.S. Army Lieutenant Phil Hartman (George Segal) and Wehrmacht officer Major Paul Kreuger (Robert Vaughn). 
rsz_thebridgeatremagen_bdbooklet.png The efforts of both men are adversely affected by orders issued by their superiors. Hartman contends with vainglorious Major Barnes (Bradford Dillman), who pushes the troops beyond reasonable expectations. Kreuger, on the other hand, is woefully understaffed. He and Colonel General von Brock (Peter van Eyck, The Wages of Fear co-star who would pass away at age 57—not a month after the release of Remagen) face down the conundrum of destroying the bridge (as ordered), thereby effectively stranding German soldiers, or risking Hartman's forces taking the bridge.

The Bridge at Remagen is very much stylistically rooted in war movies of its era, with a screenplay that gets a bit speechifying at times. Anyone going into this with expectations of the verisimilitude of a Saving Private Ryan, Hacksaw Ridge, or HBO's Band of Brothers will likely be let down. But the action in Remagen is engagingly staged and vividly photographed by cinematographer Stanley Cortez (a two-time Oscar nominee). The flinty lead performances by Segal and Vaughn also help ensure Remagen's on-going value. Have a little patience with this one, the payoff is worth it.

As mentioned, Twilight Time's Blu-ray offers an undeniably strong 1080p image, framed at its original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1. The mono audio is also faithful to its initial release, with a clean DTS-HD MA lossless presentation. Special features are limited to Elmer Bernstein's score as an isolated track and the film's theatrical trailer.

For ordering information, visit Screen Archives (Twilight Time's official distributor) or the Twilight Time website.


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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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