->''"I like to think of this as one of those American western films. The paratroops, lacking substantial equipment, always short of food, these are the besieged homesteaders. The Germans, well naturally, they're the bad guys. And 30 Corps, we, my friends, are the cavalry on the way to the rescue!"''
--> -- '''Lt. General Brian Horrocks''' (outlining the operation)

''A Bridge Too Far'' is a 1977 UsefulNotes/WorldWarII film directed by Creator/RichardAttenborough, adapted by Creator/WilliamGoldman from the best-selling 1974 book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan (''Literature/TheLongestDay''). It boasts an AllStarCast that includes Creator/JamesCaan, Creator/MichaelCaine, Creator/SeanConnery, Creator/ElliottGould, Creator/GeneHackman, Creator/AnthonyHopkins, Creator/LaurenceOlivier, Creator/RobertRedford, Creator/LivUllmann, and the biggest star of all, [[Series/{{Cheers}} John Ratzenberger]].

It tells the story of Operation Market Garden (Sept. 17-25, 1944), an audacious, but flawed -- and ultimately unsuccessful -- plan to use British, American and Polish paratroops and British armoured divisions to capture four bridges in the Netherlands. UsefulNotes/BernardLawMontgomery hoped that these could be used by the British quarter of the Western Allied force in France to invade northern Germany, forcing the Germans to reinforce that sector with forces pulled from less vital fronts such as Hungary or Italy and perhaps ultimately enabling Germany's defeat within the next six months.

In addition to the AllStarCast, it also might qualify as the biggest all-realism movie, as the producers went to great lengths (and money) to gather old vehicles and equipment, including 11 Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) WWII aircraft, along with getting NATO troops with the old fashioned parachutes jumping out of them for the film. It was also the first war film in which actors were put through boot camp prior to filming. The film cost $22 million in 1977. Compare that with ''[[Film/ANewHope Star Wars]]'' which also came out in 1977 and cost $10 million.

See also ''Film/ToraToraTora'', ''Film/TheLongestDay'', and ''Film/BattleOfBritain''.

!!''A Bridge Too Far'' provides examples of the following tropes:

* AmericaWonWorldWarII: The opening narration tells us, "In 1944, the Second World War was in its fifth year and still going Hitler's way. German troops controlled most of Europe. D-Day changed all that." 'Still going Hitler's way', 'most of Europe', and 'D-day changed all that' are all incorrect even given an exclusive focus on the Western Allies' efforts - let alone the course of the far larger Soviet-German War. In the film itself, this trope is zig-zagged. British and Polish troops have plenty of screen time, and the movie portrays one of the ''failed'' operations.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: General Urquhart delivers one, combined with a WhatTheHellHero, to General Browning at the end.
-->'''General Browning:''' You did all you could.\\
'''General Urquhart:''' Yes. But did everyone else?
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: See the opening narration shown above.
* ArtisticLicenseMilitary: Averted in most parts, but PlayedForDrama where it is present.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: This goes for most of the senior officers in the field, fighting alongside their men. Robert Redford's character leads a dangerous river crossing and personally inflicts a large amount of the asskicking.
* BaitAndSwitchComment: General Horrocks begins his RousingSpeech with "Gentlemen, this is a story you will tell your grandchildren. [[HeroicSelfDeprecation And mightily bored they'll all be]]."
* TheBigBoard: General Horrocks gives the outline of Market Garden with one of these.
* BilingualBonus: Subverted. Liv Ullmann's speech about the plight of the wounded soldiers is completely unintelligible. It required subtitles in Dutch cinema and DVD releases.
* BlatantLies:
-->'''General Horrocks:''' The Irish Guards under the command of Colonel Vandeleur will take the lead.
-->'''Colonel Vandeleur:''' ''(sotto voice)'' Christ, not us again.
-->'''General Horrocks:''' What do you think of that, Joe?
-->'''Colonel Vandeleur:''' Delighted, sir. Absolutely delighted. ''(Everyone laughs)''
* TheCassandra: Major Fuller, an intelligence analyst, is nervous about Browning's confident assertion that there are no strong German units in the area, so he sends a plane to take pictures. The pictures show German tanks in the near vicinity of Arnhem. Browning ignores him.
* TheCavalry: XXX Corps is intended to be this for the paratroops, as lampshaded by General Horrocks.
* TheCavalryArrivesLate: Except that in this case this is a ''bad'' thing, and of course the heroes '''do not''' win.
* ContemplateOurNavels:
** At the end of the movie when General Browning reflects on why the operation failed so dismally. "I always felt we tried to take it [[TitleDrop a bridge too far]]." Note that Browning did actually say this, but in a different context.
** Also when the generals decide to pull First Airborne out of Arnhem.
--->'''Brig. Gen. James Gavin:''' It was Nijmegen.\\
'''Lt. Col. J.O.E. Vandeleur:''' It was the single road getting to Nijmegen.\\
'''Lt. Gen. Brian Horrocks:''' No, it was after Nijmegen.\\
'''Lt. Gen. Frederick "Boy" Browning:''' [[CallBack And the fog, in England.]] ''[leaves with Horrocks]''\\
'''Maj. Gen. Stanislaw Sosabowski:''' ''[to Gavin and J.O.E.]'' Doesn't matter what it was. When one man says to another, "I know what let's do today, let's play the war game."... everybody dies.
* ConversationCut: A scene with General Browning explaining the plan to his subordinates, looking at a map, cuts smoothly to the German high command also looking at a map, wondering where the Allies will attack.
* CreatorCameo: Richard Attenborough is one of the lunatics wearing glasses watching the soldiers. This was his only acting role in one of the films that he directed.
* CultureClash: The DissonantSerenity of the British officers is sometimes grating to the American and Polish officers.
-->'''Major Cook:''' We busted our asses to get you across that bridge. And now you're just going to sit here and...''drink tea?''
* CurbStompBattle: The SS' first attempt to retake the Arnhem bridge, led by Captain Grabner, ends in a slaughter. Theirs, specifically. [[spoiler:Grabner himself dies trapped in his burning halftrack.]] It's the only major Allied victory in the entire movie.
* DeadpanSnarker: Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt.
-->'''General Blumentritt:''' We have such confidence in you. Everyone knows you've never lost a battle.
-->'''Field Marshal von Rundstedt:''' I'm still young. Just give me some time.
* DeathByAdaptation
** The British paratrooper who is killed [[spoiler:retrieving a supply canister]] actually survived that incident in RealLife.
** Similarly, [[spoiler: Major Carlyle is shown dying from his wounds]] near the end of the film. His real life counterpart, Maj. Allison Digby Tatham-Warter, survived both the battle and the war.
* DividedWeFall: After listening to what sounds like a suicide plan, Gen. Sosabowski comes to the briefing officer and checks his insignia.
-->'''Sosabowski:''' Just making sure whose side you're on.
** He also says he's contemplating filing a formal objection against the plan, so that it would be known he was aware how foolish it was if his forces are wiped out, but decides that absolving himself of a share of blame wouldn't matter if he's already dead.
* DownerEnding: [[ForegoneConclusion Duh]]. Despite capturing and holding most of the bridges, the Operation fails thanks to the failure to capture the all-important Arnhem bridge. In addition, the elite units involved (40k) suffer relatively heavy (17k temporary including 7k permanent) losses, all for nothing.
* EasyLogistics: Averted. The film showcases just how vital logistics are in combat. The Allies have a shortage of transport planes, forcing them to drop their forces over three days.
* ElitesAreMoreGlamorous: Justified, as most of the units on both sides that participated in the battles were top-of-the-line troops (Paratroopers for the Allies and Waffen-SS Panzergrenadiers for the Germans, respectively).
* FinaglesLaw: From the moment the operation is launched, everything starts going wrong for the Allies.
* ForegoneConclusion: Naturally. See DownerEnding above.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: General Gavin says his Dutch advisor forgot to tell him that when the Germans took Nijmegen bridge in 1940, they were slaughtered.
* FrontlineGeneral: The Americans Maxwell Taylor and James Gavin jump into battle with their respective divisions. The British Roy Urquhart mostly stays at his headquarters, but does venture to the front, while Frederick Browning spends almost the entire battle at his own headquarters.
* TheGhost: Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. His influence is felt through the entire operation, as Market Garden is his brainchild, but he never appears.
* GoodNewsBadNews: After being missing and presumed dead for several days, General Urquhart turns up alive and asks for a briefing. He's told they're cut off from the troops in Arnhem and are facing two SS panzer divisions. Urquhart asks for the good news and is told there isn't any. Their reinforcements are delayed due to bad weather, the dropping zones have been overrun by the Germans so their supplies are all going to the enemy, and they can't get the radios to work so they can't inform anyone back in England of this fact. Urquhart is visibly stunned.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: General Browning's portrayal was ''very'' controversial, mostly for making him the de facto BigBad while Montgomery and others who planned the operation went largely un-criticized. Daphne Du Maurier, his widow, publicly attacked the movie and Dirk Bogarde himself (who knew Browning slightly during the war) felt his character was overly villainized. Specifically, they objected to the TitleDrop being used as a WhamLine at the end, which makes Browning look like a {{Jerkass}}, when he made the comment during a plenary session before Market Garden.
* HopeSpot:
** The explosives planted on the Nijmegen bridge fail to explode, seemingly leaving the road clear to Arnhem. Also the soldier who manages to retrieve a parachute container [[spoiler:only to be killed by a sniper. The container is then revealed to be full of red berets instead of food or ammunition.]]
** A villainous example: the lone SS lieutenant who runs to try and save the burning Captain Grabner [[spoiler:only to get shot by a British sniper halfway to Grabner's halftrack.]]
* HomeByChristmas: This is what the soldiers were told should Market-Garden succeed. You can guess it didn't work out.
* IdiotBall
** The Dutch Resistance sends the allies good intel on a German Panzer division near Arnhem. The British dismiss the intel. Later, Aerial Photos confirm there are in fact tanks there. The British response? The tanks must be inoperable. Otherwise, the Operation would be in serious Jeopardy. Cue FacePalm. Of course, the film leaves out the fact that in real life the Dutch police force, resistance, and British-Dutch OSS branch were known to have been compromised by the SS ''Sicherheitsdienst'' (SD) Intelligence organisation. The Allies could not tell what info was reliable.
** The radios the paratroopers are supplied with (a crucial part of the equipment for such an operation) are set to the wrong frequencies, and no-one bothers to check if they are operable ''prior'' to jumping. This is equivalent to issuing soldiers with ammunition that doesn't match their weapons.
* {{Irony}}: One of the British paratroopers says that the resupply pilots are under orders to ignore signals on the ground, as, for all they know, they could be Germans. And their supplies are going right to the Germans.
* ItsRainingMen: TheMovie. ''A Bridge Too Far'' dramatized what the real Operation Market Garden revealed, namely, that paratroops armed with nothing but hand-held weaponry could not be expected to hold out very long against tanks.
* LargeHam
** Colonel Stout as played by a cigar-chewing Elliot Gould.
** Definitely Edward Fox as General Horrocks, though justified. Many archived newsreels of Sir Brian are available. Fox nails him so well that it is uncanny.
* LaughingMad: Happens literally when the paratroopers land near Arnhem only to encounter the inmates of a lunatic asylum freed by a bombing raid.
-->'''Urquhart:''' [[{{Foreshadowing}} Do you think they know something we don't?]]
* MajorlyAwesome: Exemplified in Major Cook (Redford)'s reaction to being told he and his men are going to have to row across a river covered by enemy machine-guns in order to make an infantry assault on a heavily defended position -- and they're no longer going to be able to do it in the dark - "Better by daylight."
* MidBattleTeaBreak: American officers angrily accuse the British tank units of this after the Nijmegen Bridge is captured. A British tank officer explains that their infantry support is still fighting in the city, and they therefore can't move forward to relieve the trapped soldiers at Arnhem.
* NoOneGetsLeftBehind: Averted. 1st Airborne has to leave their wounded behind to cover the rest of the Division's escape.
* [[NothingCanStopUsNow Nothing Can Stop Them Now]]: It's actually the Germans who say this when they fail to destroy the bridge at Nijmegen, leaving the road clear to Arnhem.
* OnlySaneMan: General Stanislaw Sosabowski is depicted as such, since he's the only one who seems to realize how fatally flawed the plan is ''before'' it starts to go wrong and is completely unconvinced by General Browning's wishful-thinking reassurances.
-->'''Browning:''' Only the weather can stop us now.\\
'''Sosabowski:''' Weather! ''Christus''! General Browning, what of the Germans? Don't you think that if we know Arnhem is so critical to their safety that they might know it too?\\
'''Browning:''' Now, look here. The few troops in the area are second class. They're not frontline caliber, not at all, do you understand? I think you ought to have a little more faith in Montgomery's intelligence reports, you know. He's done pretty well for us in last three or four years.\\
'''Sosabowski:''' I will tell you the extent of my faith. I am thinking of asking for a letter from you stating that I was forced to act under your orders in case my men are massacred.\\
'''Browning:''' I see... I do see. Do you wish such a letter?\\
'''Sosabowski:''' No... No, of course not. In the case of massacre, what difference will it make?
* PetTheDog: SS-General Bittrich gives Frost some of the chocolate they found in a British supply drop.
* PlungerDetonator: A German officer orders the bridge at Nijmegen blown when the first Allied tanks cross, but to his horror, the Plunger Detonator doesn't work, and the Allies take the bridge.
* PoorCommunicationKills: TheMovie, arguably. Thanks to a combination of mis-drops, faulty radios, and (lack of) coordination between commands, the entire operation is in jeopardy from the very start.
* POVCam: Multiple POV shots showing paratroopers hitting the ground. (It's a rough landing.)
* PrecisionFStrike: In the original version, James Caan and Elliot Gould each got one. Some (but not all) current [=DVDs=] only feature Caan's.
* TheRadioDiesFirst: The radios that worked well in desert conditions can't get through in low-lying Holland.
* RealityIsUnrealistic
** The real [[ColonelBadass Lt.-Colonel Frost]] objected to a scene where Creator/AnthonyHopkins runs across a street under fire. ''He'' always walked, as a British officer is ''never'' supposed to run under fire, to inspire his men and show his contempt for the enemy. It was decided to leave the scene as it was, for fear the audience would have a WhatAnIdiot reaction. Hopkins was also unable to force himself walk as the fake explosions and gunfire was too realistic for him to remain calm.
** Author Creator/WilliamGoldman mentions three examples that were criticized. First, a British general (Creator/DirkBogarde) who sends his troops to a supposedly undefended territory, although he actually has information about German troops being there, but doesn't care. Second, Creator/JamesCaan forcing a medical officer to operate on his captain, who seems to be dead (which he isn't, of course). Third, Ryan O'Neal as General James Gavin who was deemed to be too young for the role by the critics -- despite being exactly the same age as the real Gavin had been at that time.
* RealMenLoveJesus: A low-key example in Major Cook (played by Robert Redford), who prays his way across a river while being machine-gunned.
* ReassignedToAntarctica: Major Fuller, the young intel officer who insists that Resistance reports are not to be ignored, gets deemed mentally unfit and removed from duty for his trouble.
* ReportsOfMyDeathWereGreatlyExaggerated: Urquhart's paratroopers are quite astonished when the General turns up alive, having been holded up in a Dutch house for several days. Unfortunately things have gotten even worse since he was away.
--> '''Trooper''': We thought you were dead.\\
'''Urquhart''': I can assure you it was an error.
* ShaggyDogStory: The allied paratroopers are dropped into Holland only to discover that their radios are faulty and inoperable, and they spend literally the ''entire movie'' trying to fix them. The lack of radios is a ''major'' setback for the invasion force, as situation after situation comes up where they need to have a working radio but don't. At the end of the movie, they finally, ''finally'' get a radio fixed. However, by this point the situation has so deteriorated that the commanders, after asking ''each other'' for reinforcements, have literally nothing to say to each other except:
-->'''Colonel Frost:''' Well... we'll just wait for 30 Corps then.\\
'''General Urquhart:''' That would probably be best.\\
'''Colonel Frost:''' Very reassuring talk we've had, sir.
* ShootTheMessenger: The intelligence officer who tries to warn about the German tanks is told he's been working too hard and is put on sick leave.
* SpiritualSuccessor: To ''Film/TheLongestDay'', another star-studded WWII film produced by Darryl F. Zanuck from a book by Cornelius Ryan and with Creator/SeanConnery.
* SpotOfTea: A wonderful example:
-->'''Corporal Hancock:''' ''(holding a mug of tea)'' Sir.\\
'''[[Creator/SeanConnery General Urquhart]]:''' Hancock. I've got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven't arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?\\
'''Corporal Hancock:''' Couldn't hurt, sir.
* SurvivalMantra
** Major Cook keeps repeating "Hail Mary, full of grace" as he paddles across the river under fire from German machine gun and mortar fire (TruthInTelevision for the character Redford was playing, who was too tense to remember the rest of the prayer).
** A terrified army chaplain can also be seen saying "Thy will be done...they will be done..." in the same scene.
* SuspiciouslySmallArmy: Averted because they did spend a lot of money and even had RealLife airborne soldiers drop out of planes for it.
* TanksButNoTanks: The German Panther tanks in the film were actually vintage Leopard 1 tanks made up to look like Panthers.
* TemptingFate:
** "Only the weather can stop us now!" And it does.
** Urquhart tells an officer "I'll be back shortly," and the officer replies, "I'm sure the radios will be fixed by then, sir." Urquhart then spends several days hiding in an attic from German soldiers, only to return to find everything has gone to hell in his absence. And they still can't get the radios working.
** The plan is meant to end the war by Christmas. As TheNarrator points out, it's not the first time someones said that.
** One of his officers tells Frost to enjoy the rapturous greeting of the Dutch. "Things couldn't be going better; nothing's wrong."
-->'''Frost:''' Yes, that's exactly what is wrong.
** Averted when the British Airborne are pulling out of Arnhem, which involves sneaking out without the Germans realising. One man says to Urquhart , "I believe we're actually going to make it, sir." They do.
* ThisIsGonnaSuck:
** After XXX Corps gets ambushed and has to halt to deal with its wounded, captured Germans, and busted vehicles blocking the road, one of the men wonders how the hell they're gonna reach the paratroopers in time. Colonel Vandeleur points its only going to get worse as the highway narrows further down the line.
** The look on General Sosabowski's face when he's finally getting ready to jump out of a plane into Arnhem, with fully alert German troops waiting for them on the ground.
-->"[[SarcasmMode God bless Field Marshal Montgomery]]."
* ThousandYardStare: On the wounded.
* TitleDrop:
-->'''General Browning:''' I've just been on to Monty. He's very proud, and pleased.\\
'''General Urquhart:''' ''Pleased?''\\
'''General Browning:''' Of course. He thinks Market Garden has been 90% successful.\\
'''General Urquhart:''' But what do you think?\\
'''General Browning:''' ...well as you know I always thought we tried to go a bridge too far.
* TranslationConvention: Averted. The Germans speak German and the Dutch speak Dutch.
* UnspokenPlanGuarantee: Played straight. Right after the Allied generals are given the rough outline of the plan, the first sign that it will fail occurs when Field Marshal von Rundstedt orders an SS-Panzer Corps to Arnhem for rest.
* WeaponsUnderstudies: The German vehicles are usually played by NATO equipment with some plywood mods added on to make it less obvious, (the German "Panther" tanks are played by modified Dutch Army [[PantheraAwesome Leopard 1's]]) and the close air support planes seen when XXX Corps attacks are T-6 Texan trainers kitted out to look like Typhoons. Also a good deal of the half tracks used in the film were real, but had since been almost completely scrapped since the war and were basically shells. It becomes noticeable when many of they only appear behind convenient low walls to disguise the fact that they have no tracks and are being pulled on sleds. There are also several scenes where some of the enemy armor is lacking its steering mechanisms, treadguards, mounted weapons and the other stuff you lose after sitting in a junkyard for thirty years. Some of the vehicles were loaned by private collectors or museums, but this can only account for a very small number of those needed. Of the two German halftracks seen one is a genuine wartime vehicle, the Sd.Kfz.8 troop carrier seen used by Grabner's men in the first bridge assault: Grabner's Sd.Kfz.251 (which looks more like an Sd.Kfz.250) is a replica Frankensteined together from different vehicles. It survived getting set on fire and was reused in ''Film/{{Highlander}}''.
* WrongGenreSavvy: Field Marshals von Rundstedt and Model believe they are preparing for a hard-driving advance led by Patton, not a cautious-advance led by Montgomery.
** Though this is one case in which they do even better because of their false assumptions.
** When Model, headquartered in Arnhem, is first told that British paratroopers are landing three kilometers away, he assumes that they are there to capture him.
** Later, when SS-General Ludwig presents him with captured plans for Operation Market Garden, Model dismisses this as another Allied misinformation attempt, such as the ones that caused their defeats in Sicily and Normandy.
* YouHaveGOTToBeKiddingMe: Urquhart's reaction when the RAF officer tells him that the closest drop zone they could find is ''eight miles'' away from Arnhem bridge.