A Bridge Too Far (film)

A Bridge Too Far is a 1977 epic war film based on the 1974 book of the same name, directed by Richard Attenborough and with a screenplay by William Goldman.[5] Produced by Joseph E. Levine and Richard P. Levine, it was the second film based on a book by historian Cornelius Ryan to be adapted for the screen (after 1962's The Longest Day)[6] and the second based on the events of World War II's failed Operation Market Garden (after 1946's Theirs is the Glory).[7]

A Bridge Too Far
Original film poster
Directed byRichard Attenborough
Produced byJoseph E. Levine
Richard P. Levine
Screenplay byWilliam Goldman
Based onA Bridge Too Far
by Cornelius Ryan
StarringDirk Bogarde
James Caan
Michael Caine
Sean Connery
Edward Fox
Elliott Gould
Anthony Hopkins
Gene Hackman
Hardy Krüger
Laurence Olivier
Ryan O'Neal
Robert Redford
Maximilian Schell
Liv Ullmann
Music byJohn Addison
CinematographyGeoffrey Unsworth
Edited byAntony Gibbs
Joseph E. Levine Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
June 15, 1977
Running time
176 minutes
CountryUnited States[1]
United Kingdom[2]
Budget$25 million[3]
Box office$50.7 million[4]

The title originates with a disputed[8][9] comment attributed to British Lieutenant General Frederick Browning, deputy commander of the First Allied Airborne Army, who told Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the operation's architect, before the operation: "I think we may be going a bridge too far."[10] The comment was in reference to the intention of seizing the Arnhem bridgehead over the Rhine river—the culmination of a thrust into the occupied Netherlands which would allow the Allies to outflank German defences in order to end the war by Christmas of 1944. [7]

The ensemble cast includes Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Hardy Krüger, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O'Neal, Robert Redford, Maximilian Schell and Liv Ullmann. Though it received a tepid critical response, the film received several awards: At the 31st BAFTA Awards, it won five out of eight categories, including Fox for Best Supporting Actor and John Addison—who himself had served in the British XXX Corps during Market Garden—for Best Score.


Operation Market Garden envisions 35,000 men being flown 300 miles from air bases in England and dropped behind enemy lines in the Netherlands. Two divisions of US paratroopers, the 82nd and 101st Airborne, are responsible for securing the road and bridges as far as Nijmegen. A British division, the 1st Airborne, under Major-General Roy Urquhart, is to land near Arnhem and hold both sides of the bridge there, backed by a brigade of Polish paratroopers under General Stanisław Sosabowski. XXX Armoured Corps are to push up the road over the bridges captured by the American paratroopers and reach Arnhem two days after the drop.

The British are to land using gliders near Arnhem. When General Urquhart briefs his officers, some of them are surprised they are going to attempt a landing so far from the bridge. The consensus among the British top brass is that resistance will consist entirely of "Hitler Youth or old men on bicycles". Although reconnaissance photos show German tanks at Arnhem, General Browning dismisses them and also ignores reports from the Dutch underground. He does not want to be the one to tell Field Marshal Montgomery of any doubts since many previous airborne operations had been cancelled. Although British officers note that the portable radios are not likely to work for the long distance from the drop zone to the Arnhem Bridge, they choose not to convey their concerns up a chain of command intent on silencing all doubt.

Speed is the vital factor. Arnhem's is the crucial bridge, the last means of escape for the German forces in the Netherlands and an excellent route to Germany for Allied forces. The road to it, however, is only a single highway linking the various key bridges - trucks and tanks have to squeeze to the shoulder to pass. The road is also elevated, causing anything moving on the road to stand out.

The airborne drops catch the Germans by surprise and there is little resistance. Most of the men come down safely and assemble quickly, but the Son bridge is blown up by the Germans just before the 101st Airborne secures it. Then, soon after landing, troubles beset Urquhart's division. Many of the Jeeps either do not arrive by their gliders at all or are shot up in an ambush. Their radio sets are also useless.

XXX Corps' progress to relieve them is slowed by German resistance, the narrowness of the highway and the need to construct a Bailey bridge to replace the one destroyed at Son. They are then halted at Nijmegen. There, soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division perform a dangerous daylight river crossing in flimsy canvas-and-wood assault boats and the Nijmegen bridge is captured, but XXX Corps has to wait several hours for infantry to secure the town.

The Germans close in on the isolated British paratroops occupying part of Arnhem at the bridge, although armored attacks are repelled. Urquhart had been separated from his men and the supply drop zones overrun by the Germans. Finally, Sosabowski's troops, held up by fog in England, enter the battle too late and are unable to reinforce the British. After days of house-to-house fighting, pitted against crack SS infantry and panzers, the outgunned troops are captured or forced to withdraw. Arnhem itself is indiscriminately razed in the fighting.

Urquhart escapes the battle zone with fewer than a fifth of his original ten thousand crack troops; those who were too badly injured to flee stay behind and cover the withdrawal, surrendering afterwards. On arriving at British headquarters, Urquhart confronts Browning about his personal sentiments regarding the operation: does he think it went as well as was being claimed by Montgomery? Browning's reply contradicts his earlier optimism: "Well, as you know, I've always thought that we tried to go a bridge too far."

In the film's final scene, a young Dutch woman, whose elegant and beautifully furnished home was used as an overflow hospital by the British, abandons the mostly destroyed house. Passing through the front yard, now converted to a graveyard for fallen troops, she and her children trek along the high riverbank, with her father, an elderly doctor, pulling a few salvaged possessions in a cart.

Cast and roles


Actor Role Notes
Dirk BogardeLieutenant-General Frederick "Boy" BrowningGOC I British Airborne Corps, and at HQ First Allied Airborne Army as its deputy commander, British Army at Nijmegen
James CaanStaff Sergeant Eddie Dohun
(based on Charles Dohun)
Runner for Captain LeGrand King "Legs" Johnson, CO, Company F, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division U.S. Army (attacking Best)
Michael CaineLieutenant-Colonel J.O.E. VandeleurCO, 3rd Battalion (Infantry), the Irish Guards, the Guards Armoured Division, XXX Corps, British Army[11]
Michael ByrneLieutenant-Colonel Giles VandeleurActing CO, 2nd Battalion (Armoured), the Irish Guards, the British Guards Armoured Division. Cousin to "Joe".
Sean ConneryMajor General Roy UrquhartGOC, 1st British Airborne Division, Arnhem
Edward FoxLt. Gen. Brian HorrocksGOC, XXX Corps,[12] British Second Army.[13]
Elliott GouldCol. Robert Stout
(based on Robert Sink)
CO, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division[14]
Gene HackmanMaj. Gen. Stanisław SosabowskiBrigade Commander, Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, Polish Armed Forces[15]
Anthony HopkinsLt. Col. John FrostCommanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st British Airborne Division at Arnhem road bridge
Ryan O'NealBrig. Gen. James GavinDivision Commander, US 82nd Airborne Division, US Army at the bridge across the Maas river in Grave, later at the Maas-Waal canal and the bridge across the Waal river in Nijmegen
Robert RedfordMaj. Julian CookCommanding Officer, 3rd Battalion, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne, US Army seizing key bridges over the Maas-Waal Canal and the river assault crossing of the Waal river.
Denholm ElliottRAF meteorology officerFictional[16]
Peter FaberCapt. Arie D. "Harry" BestebreurtjeLiaison officer with the 82nd Airborne Division, Office of Strategic Services,[17] Royal Dutch Army[18][19]
Christopher GoodMaj. Carlyle
(based on Maj. Allison Digby Tatham-Warter)
Officer Commanding, A Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, 1st Parachute Brigade, Arnhem,[20] British Army
Frank GrimesMaj. Fuller
(based on Brian Urquhart)
G-2 (Intelligence Officer) for the 1st Airborne Corps,[21] British Army stationed at the HQ located in Moor Park Golf Club, Hertfordshire, England
Jeremy KempRAF briefing officerRAF, but the briefing probably took place at the 1st Airborne Corps HQ located in Moor Park Golf Club, Hertfordshire, England
Nicholas CampbellCapt. Glass
(based on Captain LeGrand King "Legs" Johnson)
CO, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 502PIR,[22]
Paul CopleyPte. WicksBatman to Lt. Col. Frost, CO, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, British Army[23]
Donald DouglasBrigadier Gerald LathburyBrigade Commander, 1st Parachute Brigade, British Army in Arnhem. Wounded and briefly paralysed, Lathbury made a complete recovery and escaped captivity during Operation Pegasus.
Keith DrinkelLieutenant Cornish
(based on Captain Eric Mackay, 9th Parachute Squadron Royal ENgineers)
1st Airborne Division
Colin FarrellCorporal Hancock1st British Airborne Division, Urquhart's batman
Richard KaneCol. Weaver
(based on Graeme Warrack)
Senior Medical Officer, Headquarters RAMC, 1st British Airborne Division, at the Main Dressing Station in the Schoonoord Hotel of the Oosterbeek Perimeter
Paul MaxwellMaj. Gen. Maxwell TaylorCG, 101st Airborne Division, US Army at the Son bridge and later St-Oedenrode
Stephen MooreMaj. Robert Steele
(based on Major Anthony "Tony" John Deane–Drummond)[24]
Second-in-Command, 1st Airborne Divisional Signals[25] British Army, Arnhem
Donald PickeringLt. Col. C.B. MackenziePrincipal General Staff Officer (Chief of Staff), Headquarters, 1st Airborne Division, British Army, Divisional HQ at the Hartenstein Hotel[26]
Gerald SimCol. Sims
(based on (acting Colonel) Lt. Col. Arthur Austin Eagger)[27]
Senior Medical Officer, 1st Airborne Corps, R.A.M.C., British Army
John StrideGrenadier Guards major (based on Captain Lord Carrington)British Grenadier Guards Commander who argues with Major Cook after 82nd capture Nijmegen Bridge
Alun ArmstrongCpl. Davies2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st British Airborne Division
David Auker"Taffy" BraceMedic, 1st British Airborne Division
Michael BangerterBritish staff colonelBritish XXX Corps staff officer at General Browning's HQ
Philip RaymondGrenadier Guards Colonel (based on Lt. Colonel Edward H. Goulburn)C.O. 2nd Armoured Grenadier Guards Battalion
Michael Graham CoxCapt. Jimmy CleminsonT/Capt., [Sir] James Arnold Stacey "Jimmy" Cleminson Officer Commanding, 5 Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, British Army, Arnhem[28]
Garrick HagonLieutenant RaffertyLieutenant, 101st Military Police Platoon, 101st Airborne Division, Division Field Hospital, US Army[29]
John RatzenbergerLt James MegellasLieutenant, Company H, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division, US Army, at Waal River crossing[30]
Arthur HillUS Army surgeon (colonel)Chief Division Surgeon Lt Col. David Gold, 101st Airborne Division Clearing Station
Ben CrossTrooper Binns2nd Battalion, 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st British Airborne Division
Mark SheridanSergeant Tomblin2nd Battalion, 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st British Airborne Division
George InnesSergeant MacDonaldBritish 1st Airborne Division radio operator at the Hartenstein Hotel


Actor Role Notes
Hardy KrügerGeneralmajor der Waffen-SS Karl LudwigBased on Heinz Harmel, Division Commander of the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg, but he did not want his name to be mentioned in the film
Maximilian SchellGeneral der Waffen-SS Wilhelm BittrichCorps Commander of II SS Panzer Corps (The part of the movie where Bittrich sees the Paratroopers come down was actually witnessed by Luftwaffe General Kurt Student)
Wolfgang PreissGeneralfeldmarschall Gerd von RundstedtOB West (commander of the German forces on the Western Front)
Walter KohutGeneralfeldmarschall Walter ModelCommander of Army Group B
Hartmut BeckerGerman Army sentry
Hans von BorsodyGeneral der Infanterie Günther BlumentrittChief of Staff OB West
Lex van DeldenOberscharführer MatthiasBittrich's aide.
Fred WilliamsHauptsturmführer Viktor Eberhard GräbnerCommander of the reconnaissance battle group of 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen

Dutch civilians

Actor Role Notes
Laurence OlivierDr. Jan Spaander
Liv UllmannKate ter Horst
Siem VroomUnderground leader
Erik van 't WoutUnderground leader's son
Marlies van AlcmaerUnderground leader's wife
Mary SmithuysenOld Dutch lady
Hans CroisetOld Dutch lady's son
Josephine PeeperCafe waitress
Tom van BeekJan ter Horst
Erik ChittyOrganist
Richard AttenboroughLunatic wearing glasses(uncredited cameo)
Albert van der HarstMedic


Air filming was done in the first weeks of September 1976, culminating in a series of air drops of a total of 1,000 men,[31] together with the dropping of supplies from a number of Dakota aircraft. The Dakotas were gathered by the film company Joseph E. Levine Presents Incorporated. All aircraft were required to be CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) or FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) registered and licensed to carry passengers. An original deal for the purchase of ten fell through when two airframes were rejected as passenger configured without the necessary jump doors. Eleven Dakotas were procured. Two ex-Portuguese Air Force, 6153 and 6171 (N9984Q and N9983Q), and two from Air Djibouti, operating from Djibouti in French Somaliland, F-OCKU and F-OCKX (N9985Q and N9986Q) were purchased by Joseph E. Levine. Three Danish Air Force K-685, K-687, and K-688, and four Finnish Air Force C-47s, DO-4, DO-7, DO-10 and DO-12, were loaned for the duration of the parachute filming.

Aircraft 6171 doubled as the camera ship on most formations, with a camouflaged Piper Aztec, G-AWDI. A camera was mounted in the astrodome, one on the port upper mainplane surface, with a third camera on the outside of the forward port cabin window and a fourth under the aircraft centre section. In addition, centre escape hatches were removed to make additional camera ports available, provided that no troops were aboard during filming. A second Aztec, G-ASND, was a backup camera ship on some shots, but it was not camouflaged. An Alouette, G-BDWN, was also employed. After a mishap with G-AWDI, two locally hired Cessna 172s, PH-GVP and PH-ADF, were also used. Ten Horsa glider replicas were built, but a windstorm damaged almost all of them. Seven or eight were hastily repaired for the shoot. The replica gliders were tail-heavy and required a support post under the rear fuselage, with camera angles carefully chosen to avoid revealing this. Dakota 6153 was fitted with tow gear and Horsa replicas were towed at high speed, though none went airborne. A two-seat Blaník sailplane, provided by a member of the London Gliding Club, Dunstable, was towed aloft for the interior takeoff shots.

Four Harvards portrayed American and German fighters. Their original identities were PH-KLU, PH-BKT, B-64 and B-118, the latter two aircraft loaned by the Royal Netherlands Air Force. These were flown by members of the Gilze Rijen Aero Club, which also provided an Auster III, PH-NGK, which depicted an Auster V, RT607, in wartime camouflage. Spitfire Mk. IX, MH434, depicting a photo reconnaissance variant, coded AC-S, was lent by the Hon. Patrick Lindsay, and was flown by aerobatic champion Neil Williams.[32]

Finding sufficient American tanks, jeeps, and trucks of WWII vintage was just possible as many of the vehicles were being discarded from European military (almost entirely reserve) units especially from Greece and Turkey.

The scenes around the "Arnhem" bridge were actually shot in Deventer, where a similar bridge over the IJssel was still available. Although a replica of the original road bridge in Arnhem still existed, it was, by the mid-1970s, sitting in modern urban surroundings which could not be used to portray a 1940s city. A few scenes were shot in Zutphen, where the old municipality house and the main church can be seen.


In order to keep high costs down, all the star-name actors agreed to participate on a "favoured-nation" basis (i.e. they would all receive the same weekly fee), which in this case was $250,000 per week (the 2012 equivalent of $1,008,250 or £642,000).[33]

Shooting of the American-led assault on the Bridge at Nijmegen was dubbed the "Million-Dollar Hour". Because of the heavy traffic, the crew had permission to film on the bridge between eight and nine o'clock on October 3, 1976. Failure to complete the scene would have necessitated rescheduling at a cost — including Redford's overtime — of at least a million dollars. For this reason, Attenborough insisted that all actors playing corpses keep their eyes closed.[5]

After United Artists agreed to pay $6 million for US and Canada distribution rights,[34] the film was a box office disappointment in North America but performed well in Europe.[35]


A "making-of" documentary included in a special edition DVD of A Bridge Too Far claims that, at the time of its release, "the film was shunned by American critics and completely ignored at Oscar time for daring to expose the fatal inadequacies of the Allied campaign."[36] Critics agreed that the film was impressively staged[37] and historically accurate, although many found it too long and too repetitive.[38] James Caan[38] and Anthony Hopkins were cited by many critics for the excellence of their performances in a film with hundreds of speaking roles and cameos by many of the period's top actors. However, it was suggested that the film contains historical inaccuracies and needs to be viewed as a ‘Hollywood’ interpretation of events. Robin Neillands commented, "A countless number of veterans have urged me to ignore most of the story in the film A Bridge Too Far".[8]

Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four and called it "such an exercise in wretched excess, such a mindless series of routine scenes, such a boringly violent indulgence in all the blood and guts and moans they could find, that by the end we're prepared to speculate that maybe Levine went two or even three bridges too far. The movie's big and expensive and filled with stars, but it's not an epic. It's the longest B-grade war movie ever made."[39] Gene Siskel gave the film two-and-a-half out of four and wrote, "More often than not, A Bridge Too Far isn't a story; it's a parade of famous faces. As for the battle footage, it is more often tedious than glamorous. The paratroop landing provides a spectacular five minutes. Other action footage is routine."[40] Vincent Canby of The New York Times stated, "The movie is massive, shapeless, often unexpectedly moving, confusing, sad, vivid and very, very long."[41] John Pym of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote that "by the end of this extravagant film, we have a fair idea of the who-did-what logistics of a costly military operation. The root problem with A Bridge Too Far, however, is that the top-heavy complement of stars never allows for any focus of attention."[42]

However, not all reaction was negative. Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "In strictly cinematic terms, the appeal of A Bridge Too Far is easy to state: it is spectacular in the size and range of its effects, earnestly well-acted by a starry and able cast, well-paced and swift despite its length, and marked by an evident attempt to give the balanced truth of a tragic episode from history."[43] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post called it "an unusually conscientious and impressive war epic" that justified its high budget "in terms of careful period recreation, visual spectacle (the sequences depicting paratroop landings are particularly awesome), the mixture of exciting combat episodes with vivid human interest vignettes, an effort to establish a coherent, many-faceted view of a complicated and ill-fated military adventure, and a generally superior level of filmmaking intelligence and craftsmanship."[44]

The film has a 63% score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews, with an average grade of 6.1 out of 10.[45]


Awards and nominations received by A Bridge Too Far
Award Category Nominee Result
Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Film A Bridge Too Far Won
31st British Academy Film Awards Best Film A Bridge Too Far Nominated
Best Direction Richard Attenborough Nominated
Best Editing Antony Gibbs Nominated
Best Production Design Terence Marsh Nominated
Best Sound Peter Horrocks, Gerry Humphreys, Simon Kaye, Robin O'Donoghue, and Les Wiggins Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Edward Fox Won
Best Film Music John Addison Won
Best Cinematography Geoffrey Unsworth Won
1977 National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Supporting Actor Edward Fox Won


Story of A Bridge Too Far
AuthorWilliam Goldman
CountryUnited States
Publication date

To promote the film, scriptwriter William Goldman wrote a book titled Story of A Bridge Too Far as a favour to Joseph E. Levine.[46] It was published in December 1977 and divided into three sections:

  1. "Reflections on Filmmaking in General and A Bridge Too Far". This section features some essays later reprinted in Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade.[46]
  2. "A Bridge Too Far: The Story in Pictures" - 150 sequential photographs from the film with Goldman's captions.
  3. "Stars and Heroes" - some of the movie's actors and the men they play tell Goldman their thoughts on the film and the battle.


  1. "A Bridge Too Far (1977)". BFI. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  2. "A Bridge Too Far (1977)". LUMIERE. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  3. McKenna, A. T. (2011). "Joseph E. Levine and A Bridge Too Far (1977): A Producer's Labour of Love". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. 31 (2): 211–227. doi:10.1080/01439685.2011.572606.
  4. "A Bridge Too Far, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  5. Goldman 1977
  6. Ryan, Cornelius (1959). The Longest Day (1st ed.). New York City: Simon & Schuster. ASIN B002YJG2WU.
  7. Theirs is the Glory. Arnhem, Hurst and Conflict on Film” Co-authored by David Truesdale and Allan Esler Smith. Page x, Co'authors' introduction. Published 16 September 2016 by Helion and Company. ISBN 978-1-911096-63-4
  8. Neillands, Robin (2005). The Battle for the Rhine 1944. London: Cassell. pp. 87 and 93. ISBN 978-1-40722-127-4.
  9. Hamilton, Nigel (1986). Monty. The final Years of the Field-Marshal1944-1976. London: Hamish Hamilton. pp. 28 f/n2 and pages 64 to67. ISBN 978-0-07-025807-5.
  10. Ryan 1974, p. 67
  11. In the film "Joe" is depicted as leading the tanks of his cousin Giles' battalion although he commanded the Irish Guards Group as was the practice of combining two battalions from same regiment under senior regimental officer
  12. Carried the primary responsibility for the 'Garden' ground offensive part of the operation
  13. Fox had known General Horrocks as a friend before working on the film and took care to portray him accurately. Later he would cite this as his favourite film role.A Bridge Too Far (1977) British Film Institute, archived from the original on 2008-03-12, retrieved 2009-10-19
  14. Attacked bridge at Zon and later entered Eindhoven to meet British troops
  15. Arrived in the 3rd lift north of Nijemegen and advanced towards Arnhem
  16. General Browning failed to arrange for RAF and USAAF liaison officers for the British I Airborne Corps. In the book Ryan says Sosabowski spoke with the chief liaison officer, Lieutenant Colonel George Stevens.
  17. "Capt. Arie D. Bestebreurtje - World War II Special Operations Soldier". B26.com. Archived from the original on 2014-10-20. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  18. escaping in 1941 to UK he studied at the Royal Military Academy, and later in Edinburgh he was trained as an OSS agent and assigned to operations behind in occupied Holland.
  19. Dutch Wikipedia article
  20. The major did not die of wounds at Brigade HQ, but was taken prisoner, moved to the St. Elizabeth Hospital, and later conducted an escape (Operation Pegasus) with the Dutch Resistance to bring out 138 escapees of the battle, and returning to his post with the remnants of his company Evasion Report: 21st September - 23rd October 1944 (www.pegasusarchive.org)
  21. p.132, Ambrose, Immerman
  22. He was initially wounded by a rifle bullet in the right shoulder. The following is taken from War Stories website History vs Hollywood - Captain Legs Johnson "Medics made him lie down and set up an IV with plasma flowing into him. Medical jeeps bearing stretchers were evacuating wounded two at a time, to a field hospital in Zon. Since many of the wounded were hit more seriously than himself, Legs kept delaying his own evacuation, telling the medics to convey the others first. Even when Legs was finally loaded, he was still telling them to delay and take others. Against his objections, he was placed across the hood of the Jeep on a stretcher and then the Jeep scratched-off, headed for Zon. At that time, a German MG42 machine-gun fired at the Jeep from over 500 yards distance. One round entered Legs' helmet and tore into his head. He lost consciousness and would not wake up until weeks later.
    At the hospital in Zon, Legs was briefly examined and since he was unconscious and his brains were exposed, he was relegated to the "dead pile" of troopers who were wounded so seriously that they had no chance to survive.
    Later that afternoon, Sgt Charles Dohun (Hollywood changed his first name to Eddie), (James Caan) who was Legs' runner [orderly] wandered over to the hospital for a specific purpose. He knew that the captain had a substantial amount of cash in his billfold and he didn't want a stranger from another unit to get it.
    Dohun spotted Captain Johnson in the dead pile and examined him; when he discovered that Legs was still breathing, he carried him into an operating room and ordered the surgeon to save him. When the doctor refused, Dohun pointed a souvenir Luger at him and threatened to shoot him (he did not use a .45 as shown in A Bridge Too Far, but a .45 looks more impressive).
    The operation was successful. "Legs" regained consciousness six weeks later in a hospital, "deaf, dumb, blind, and with a steel plate in my head." As of this writing (October, 2005), Legs is still alive in Florida. Charles Dohun survived World War II and lived in N.C. until his death about 15 years ago.
    Regarding the Hollywood Depiction
    When I interviewed Legs Johnson in the late 1990s, he commented on how he and Sgt Dohun were portrayed in A Bridge Too Far, the 1977 Hollywood version of Cornelius Ryan's book about Operation Market Garden.
    "Legs" said: "In the movie, I was a little, scared guy and Dohun was a great big guy. Hell, in real life I would've made TWO of Dohun."
    Cornelius Ryan described in his book how Sgt Dohun was placed under arrest for threatening to shoot the surgeon. I have not learned the identity of that doctor, but he did NOT pardon the sergeant as shown in the film. Sgt Dohun was taken before LTC Steve Chappuis (later Brigadier General (Ret.) Steve A. Chappuis), the 2/502 C.O. and "Silent Steve" placed him under arrest for one minute. As Dohun stood at attention before his desk, the LTC looked at his watch for sixty seconds, then told Dohun he could go.
    Captain Hugh "Duke" Roberts, the second battalion S-1 of the 502 PIR, was among the few individuals who knew the story of how Dohun had ordered the doctor to perform the operation, at gunpoint. Duke wrote a letter to Mrs Johnson,(Legs' wife), explaining how Sgt Dohun had been responsible for saving his life. When Cornelius Ryan was researching A Bridge Too Far, Mrs Johnson sent that letter to Ryan, which is how the author became aware of the story.
  23. Although ordered to load his shotgun, dinner jacket and golf clubs into the staff car in the movie, seemingly to bring with him on the operation, these would eventually arrive in the Sea Tail via Normandy beaches.
  24. The role is based to a point that he was the major responsible for divisional signals. His depiction in the film after landing is completely fictional.
  25. He became separated from his unit whilst trying to link up with 1st Parachute Brigade, who were surrounded at the north end of Arnhem Bridge, and along with three other soldiers spent three days trapped in a small room at the back of a German–occupied house. On managing to leave this building, they split up to cross the river; Deane–Drummond successfully swam to the south bank of the Rhine, but was almost immediately taken prisoner. The next day, he managed to escape from a group who were being escorted out of Arnhem, and spent the next eleven days hiding inside a large cupboard until he felt safe to move.
  26. Mackenzie was effectively CO on the first day until Hicks was contacted by which time he had established Divisional HQ at the Hartenstein Hotel. He later swam the river Lek to contact Gen. Sosabowski, and through him the XXX Corps HQ.
  27. O.B.E. (Military Division) of the Order "in recognition of gallant and, distinguished services in Sicily" Supplement to The London Gazette, 23 March 1944
  28. Shown accompanying Maj. Gen. Urquhart he however did not become ADC to General Officer Commanding 1st Airborne Division until 1945, but was mentioned in dispatches for Arnhem
  29. The name is probably fictional since the event did not occur as portrayed in the film
  30. Most decorated officer of the 82nd Division. Unlike depicted in the movie the real Magellas survived the battle and as of 2015 was still alive.
  31. a member of the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment claims there were no more than 200 men involved. Parachute drops were conducted by the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment, only 100 jumpers plus support, 10 man sticks per Dakota.
  32. Hurst, Flt. Lt. K.J., DC-3 Project Officer for the film; AIR International, July 1977, Volume 13, Number 1, pp. 33-34, Talkback column
  33. "Entirely Up To You, Darling"; page 152-3; paperback; Arrow Books; published 2009. ISBN 978-0-099-50304-0
  34. A., C. (June 15, 1977). "The final decision will be mine". The Washington Post (1974-Current File). ProQuest 146729580.
  35. European filmgoers are holding up "Bridge". Beck, Marilyn. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 20 Oct 1977: a8.
  36. Papamichael, Stella. "A Bridge Too Far: Special Edition DVD (1977)," BBC website. Retrieved Sept. 5, 2010.
  37. Canby, Vincent. "Film: It's a Long War In 'Bridge Too Far'," New York Times (June 16, 1977).
  38. Morgan, Jason. "A Bridge Too Far," Archived September 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine FilmCritic.com (Jan. 9, 2006).
  39. Ebert, Roger (June 17, 1977). "A Bridge Too Far". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  40. Siskel, Gene (June 16, 1977). "Big-budget 'Bridge' overspans itself". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 6.
  41. Canby, Vincent (June 16, 1977). "Film: It's a Long War In 'Bridge Too Far'". The New York Times. 74.
  42. Pym, John (July 1977). "A Bridge Too Far". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 44 (522): 142.
  43. Champlin, Charles (June 12, 1977). "World War II Writ Large in 'Bridge Too Far'". Los Angeles Times. Calendar, p. 1, 13.
  44. Arnold, Gary (June 16, 1977). "An Epic War Movie At the Head of Its Class". The Washington Post. C1.
  45. "A Bridge Too Far". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  46. Egan p 145


  • Arthur, Max, Forgotten Voices of the Second World War: A new history of world war two in the words of the men and women who were there, Ebury Press, 2004 ISBN 0091897351 OCLC 57691717
  • Goldman, William (1977), William Goldman's Story of a Bridge Too Far, Coronet Books, ISBN 978-0-340-22340-6 [NB: Book has no page numbers]
  • Ryan, Cornelius (1974), A Bridge Too Far, London: Hamish Hamilton, ISBN 978-0-340-19941-1
  • Waddy, Colonel John (1977), "The Making of a Bridge Too Far", After the Battle, London: Plaistow Press (17): 10–34
  • Ambrose, Stephen E. & Immerman, Richard H., Ike's spies: Eisenhower and the espionage establishment, University Press of Mississippi, 1999. ISBN 0-385-14493-8 OCLC 6863017

See also

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