26 June 2002 | m0rphy
A FAILED GAMBLE
This video portrays with great precision in an almost acted documentary way the failed attempt in September 1944 to end WWII early based on the plan conceived by Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery of El-Alemain (with Eisenhower's approval).The Allies by this time had advanced deep into Belgium almost to The Dutch border but the advance suddenly slowed due to their out-running lines of supply and their inability to take a servicable port intact nearer their front line.Supplies were still being transported from the won Normandy beachheads a distance of over 500miles.
The Plan involved dropping British, American and Polish paratroopers at strategic bridges in the Netherlands such as The Son, The Grave, Nijmegen, to be taken by the American 82nd and 101st Airborne and the prize, Arnhem to be taken and held by British paratroops.Once all these bridges were captured and held, The British 1st Army would drive up the road linking them, thus giving the Allies a springboard to the Rhine and Germany.It was code-named "Operation Market Garden", Market being the airborne drop and Garden the drive up the road.That was the theory. The planners overlooked,by ignoring seemingly on purpose aerial reconnaisance photos which indicated that Dieter's SS Panzers were resting and re-equipping in the Arnhem area. The Allies' communications equipment had not been tested thoroughly enough e.g. "walkie-talkies" worked in open country but what about in built-up areas?Did they have the right sort of crystals fitted?The daily air drops to re-supply lightly armed paratroops could not work if the paras were not in their coded/designated drop zones. Amazingly after the strategic withdrawal from Arnhem, Montgomery is purported to have said it was "90% successful"!
This film, directed by Richard Attenborough, was made in 1977 with a galaxy of well known stars i.e.:Dirk Bogarde as General Boy Browning,Lawrence Olivier, Liv Uhlman,Ryan O'Neal, James Caan, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman,Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery and Michael Caine.They all play historical figures but for me the most effective was Edward Fox playing General Sir Brian Horrocks.The latter presented a UK TV series on WWII in the 1960's and Fox's mannerisms and speech patterns were unerringly similar.Please bear in mind that since the recent film "The Saving of Private Ryan", special effects in war films have gone up a quantum leap, e.g. the havoc that bullets/bombs/morters etc can wreak on the human body.So you are looking at 1977 special effects.Nevertheless the equipment including the DC3's and filming of the actual paratroopers drop into The Netherlands was most impressive.Sometimes the dialogue is a little stilted to modern tastes but this is or should be speech patterns from 1944.It was General Boy Browning who stated "...but sir, I think we may be going a bridge too far" when he met with the Allied top brass to oversee the plan which he had to execute.This is certainly one of the seminal WWII war films and the only one which concentrates on this failed strategy to liberate the Low Countries.
If you can forget the famous actors and get into their characters and have a sense of modern history, this long film will stimulate you.