The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

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    There are 40 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Gorch.

    • The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)



      File2_zpsa8fabd8a.jpgPhoto with the courtesy of Gorch
      Information From IMDb

      Plot Summary
      The film deals with the situation of British prisoners of war during World War II who are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge but, under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson, they are persuaded that the bridge should be constructed as a symbol of British morale, spirit and dignity in adverse circumstances. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of the Japanese commandant Saito. He is an honorable but arrogant man, who is slowly revealed to be a deluded obsessive. He convinces himself that the bridge is a monument to British character, but actually is a monument to himself, and his insistence on its construction becomes a subtle form of collaboration with the enemy. Unknown to him, the Allies have sent a mission into the jungle, led by Warden and an American, Shears, to blow up the bridge. Written by alfiehitchie

      William Holden ... Cmdr. Shears
      Jack Hawkins ... Maj. Warden
      Alec Guinness ... Col. Nicholson
      Sessue Hayakawa ... Col. Saito
      James Donald ... Maj. Clipton
      Geoffrey Horne ... Lt. Joyce
      André Morell ... Col. Green (as Andre Morell)
      Peter Williams ... Capt. Reeves
      John Boxer ... Maj. Hughes
      Percy Herbert ... Pvt. Grogan
      Harold Goodwin ... Pvt. Baker, Sick List Volunteer
      Ann Sears ... Nurse at Siamese hospital
      Heihachiro Okawa ... Capt. Kanematsu (as Henry Okawa)
      Keiichiro Katsumoto ... Lt. Miura
      M.R.B. Chakrabandhu ... Yai (as M.R.B. Chakrabandhu {Col. Broome})
      And many more...

      Writing credits
      Michael Wilson (screenplay) originally uncredited and
      Carl Foreman (screenplay) originally uncredited
      Pierre Boulle (novel "Le pont de la rivière Kwaï")

      Original Music
      Malcolm Arnold

      * 'Carl Foreman' wrote the screenplay with Humphrey Bogart in mind for the role of Shears, but Columbia Studios head Harry Cohn refused to allow Bogart out of another project. Cary Grant then was briefly considered to star as Colonel Nicholson, but his flop in a serious role in Crisis (1950) concerned the producer, Sam Spiegel. The role was offered to Laurence Olivier who turned it down. Alec Guinness was the next choice.

      * There are many rumors about the casting of the film, but most sources claim that Charles Laughton was the original choice of to play the role of Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). Laughton turned down the part as he did not know how to play it convincingly as he did not understand the motivations of the character. He said he only understood the character after seeing the completed film and Alec Guinness' performance as Colonel Nicholson.

      * At one point, Sam Spiegel wanted Humphrey Bogart to star and Nicholas Ray to direct.

      * Alec Guinness initially turned down the role of Colonel Nicholson, saying, "I can't imagine anyone wanting to watch a stiff-upper-lip British colonel for two and a half hours." He had also clashed with David Lean when they made Oliver Twist (1948).

      * Howard Hawks was asked to direct, but declined. After the box-office failure of Land of the Pharaohs (1955), he didn't want a second one in a row, and he thought the critics would love this movie but the public would stay away. One particular concern was the all-male lead roles.

      * Screenwriters Michael Wilson and 'Carl Foreman' were on the blacklist of people with accused Communist ties at the time the film was made, and went uncredited. The sole writing credit, and therefore the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, went to Pierre Boulle, who wrote the original French novel but did not speak English. Clearly Pierre had not written the English script and this became a long-running controversy between the Academy and the actual authors to achieve recognition for their work. 1984 the Academy retrospectively awarded the Oscar to Wilson and Foreman. Sadly Wilson did not live to see this; Foreman died the day after it was announced. When the film was restored, their names were added to the credits.

      * While the bridge in the story was constructed by prisoners in two months, the actual one built in Ceylon by a British company for the filming (425 feet long and 50 feet above the water) took eight months, with the use of 500 workers and 35 elephants. It was demolished in a matter of seconds, and the total cost was 85,000 pounds (equivalent to about 1.2 million pounds in 2002).

      * The train had a small diesel engine at the rear to make sure all four coaches went off the bridge after the steam locomotive.

      * In some prints of this movie, star Alec Guinness's surname is written as "Guiness".

      * Charles Laughton was announced as the star, but decided he couldn't handle the heat of Ceylon and withdrew. Among the actors considered as replacements were Ronald Colman, Noel Coward, 'Ralph Richardson' , Ray Milland and James Mason.

      * The bridge cost $250,000 to build; construction began before anyone had been cast.

      * After the final scene was shot, producer Sam Spiegel shipped the film footage on five different planes to minimize the risk of loss.

      * When this film was first aired on commercial TV in the USA, on Sunday night, Sept. 25, 1966, ABC-TV pre-empted its entire evening's schedule so the film could be aired in one night, as opposed to two parts on consecutive nights. This was considered a bold move at the time. It was the longest single network telecast of a film up to then (three hours and 10 minutes with commercials; Ford Motor Co. was the lone sponsor), beating the previous record set by Laurence Olivier's Richard III (1955), which was telecast by NBC over three hours on March 11, 1956. An estimated 60 million viewers watched the program.

      * The train wrecked at the end of the film was purchased from an Indian maharajah for just that purpose.

      * The title of the English translation of the French novel "Le pont de la rivière Kwai" was "The Bridge Over the River Kwai".

      * It was Percy Herbert who suggested the idea of using Kenneth Alford's "Colonel Bogey March" to David Lean.

      * The actual Major Saito, unlike the character portrayed in the film by Sessue Hayakawa, was said by some to be one of the most reasonable and humane of all of the Japanese officers, usually willing to negotiate with the POWs in return for their labor. Such was the respect between Saito and the real-life Lieutenant-Colonel Toosey that Toosey spoke up on Saito's behalf at the war-crimes tribunal after the war, saving him from the gallows. Ten years after Toosey's 1975 death, Saito made a pilgrimage to England to visit his grave.

      * The film's story was loosely based on a true World War II incident, and the real-life character of Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey. One of a number of Allied POW's, Toosey was in charge of his men from late 1942 through May 1943 when they were ordered to build two Kwai River bridges in Burma (one of steel, one of wood), to help move Japanese supplies and troops from Bangkok to Rangoon. In reality, the actual bridge took 8 months to build (rather than two months), and they were actually used for two years, and were only destroyed two years after their construction - in late June 1945. The memoirs of the 'real' Colonel Nicholson were compiled into a 1991 book by Peter Davies entitled The Man Behind the Bridge.

      * The real life construction of the bridge over the River Kwai used about 100,000 conscripted Asian laborers. 12,000 prisoners of war died on the project.

      * The destruction of the bridge as depicted in the film is entirely fictional. In reality, two bridges were built, a temporary wooden one and a permanent steel and concrete one a few months later. Both bridges were used for two years until they were destroyed by Allied aerial bombings. The steel bridge was repaired and is still in use today.

      * John Ford, like Howard Hawks, was considered as a director before David Lean was chosen.

      * On the first take of the final bridge sequence, the explosions on the bridge didn't detonate. The train crossed over safely, only to crash down a hill on the other side.

      * After filming was completed on the exploding bridge sequence, which cost an enormous amount of money and time, rumor has it that the footage disappeared somewhere between Ceylon and London. It was finally discovered two weeks later, sitting in the intense heat out on the runway at the airport in Cairo, Egypt. Miraculously, the footage was undamaged.

      * Fred Zinnemann was another choice to direct; Sam Spiegel very much wanted him to take the job, due to his box-office clout, but Zinneman didn't understand the novel and declined. Orson Welles was reportedly approached to co-star and direct, but Welles, too, dropped out after reading the script. William Wyler was considered but never formally approached. Ultimately, Spiegel explained the decision to hire David Lean (then virtually unknown outside of Britain) as being "In absence of anybody else."

      * John Gielgud was the first choice to play Major Warden (played by Jack Hawkins in the film) but rejected the role, saying it was "anybody's part".

      * Alec Guinness was always the first choice to play Colonel Nicholson, although he actually turned the part down when first offered it as he disliked the character and thought Pierre Boulle's original novel to be anti-British. Charles Laughton, James Mason, Ralph Richardson, Noel Coward and Anthony Quayle were all approached. It was only after Jack Hawkins had been cast in the part of Major Warden that Guinness reconsidered his position, largely at Hawkins' instigation.

      * William Holden, then a major star, was brought into the project to provide "box office appeal" after Cary Grant turned down the role. He received little money up front, but was guaranteed a hefty share of the profits, to be paid at the rate of $50,000 a year. Because the film made so much money, his share still has not been completely paid, and his heirs continue to receive $50,000 a year, and will for years to come. This is one reason why Holden sued to stop the first American TV showing of the film in 1966, claiming it would hurt future box office receipts, on which he was dependent. (The lawsuit was unsuccessful.)

      * David Lean initially wanted Nicholson's soldiers to enter the camp while singing "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball", a popular (during World War II) parody version of the "Colonel Bogey March" poking fun at Adolf Hitler and various other Nazi leaders. Sam Spiegel told him it was too vulgar, and the whistling-only version was used instead.

      * Original novelist Pierre Boulle actually had been a prisoner of war in Thailand. His creation of Colonel Nicholson was an amalgam of his memories of various French officers who collaborated with his captors.

      * Sessue Hayakawa edited his copy of the script to contain only his lines of dialog. This way, he remained oblivious to the real nature of his character's fate.

      * For the scene when Colonel Nicholson emerges from the oven after several days confined there, Alec Guinness based his faltering walk on that of his son Matthew when he was recovering from polio. Guinness regarded this one tiny scene as some of the finest work he did throughout his entire career.

      * At one point during filming, David Lean nearly drowned when he was swept away by a river current. Geoffrey Horne saved his life.

      * Sam Spiegel bought the railroad train from the Ceylonese government. It had previously belonged to an Indian maharajah and had seen 65 years of active service. Spiegel had it refurbished completely and then had one mile of railway track laid for it.

      * 'Sam Spiegel (I)' was en route from Paris to London when he bought the then much-talked about novel by Pierre Boulle out of curiosity. By the time he arrived in London, he had read the novel and decided what his next film was going to be. He immediately flew back to Paris for a meeting with a surprised Boulle who agreed to sell him the film rights.

      * Producer 'Sam Spiegel (I)' - in his efforts for securing rights, casting, locations, etc. - flew around the world 4 times in the 3 years it took to get the film from page to screen.

      * For one sunset scene, David Lean specifically traveled 150 miles to capture it.

      * Assistant director John Kerrison was killed in a car crash on the way to one of the locations. A make-up man was badly injured in the same accident.

      * The Suez crisis of 1956 badly affected production too. Vital equipment that would normally have been shipped through the canal had to be flown out to the location instead.

      * There were no facilities on the island of Ceylon to process film rushes so the day's filming had to be flown to London to be processed and then flown back out to Ceylon.

      * For the scenes where William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Geoffrey Horne and the native girls had to wade through swamps, they were wading through specially created ones. The real swamps in Ceylon were deemed to be too dangerous. Nevertheless the leeches in the recreated swamps were real.

      * After the bridge was blown, souvenir hunters swarmed all over the set, claiming pieces of timber.

      * Calder Willingham also worked on the script although he and David Lean didn't get on.

      * The film was edited in Paris as David Lean was facing punitive divorce costs from the dissolution of his marriage to 'Ann Todd (I)' at the time in his native England.

      *Alec Guinness never saw the bridge blow. He had completed all his scenes and returned to England when the explosion was filmed.

      * Continuity: In the opening scene, the railway is 5'6" (1.676 m) broad gauge, as used in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the filming location; but when we see tracks on the finished bridge, they're much narrower, about 2' (60 cm).

      * Errors in geography: Both scenes are wrong: the actual line would have been 1 metre gauge, as it connected existing Thai and Burmese metre-gauge routes.

      * Anachronisms: Set in 1943, a 1946 Chrysler was shown as a military staff car.

      * Factual errors: The movie credits have only one 'n' in Alec Guinness' name (this has been corrected in the "restored" version).

      * Continuity: The demolition charges were only placed at water level around the bridge pilings but when the actual explosion takes place, small explosions can be seen right under the tracks, far above water level.

      * Continuity: When Col. Nicholson is examining the wire sticking out of the river, the current switches direction.

      * Continuity: At the very end of the movie the bridge is blown and the entire train falls into the shallow river Kwai but no engine or cars are visible under the bridge as the movie ends.

      * Revealing mistakes: In the very last shot of Major Clipton, you can see wind marks in the water from the helicopter pulling up to film the scene.

      * Continuity: During the bridge completion celebration Nicholson gives a speech on the stage while Shears and Joyce are placing the explosive charges under cover of darkness. In some shots, the camp is visible in broad daylight beyond the left edge of the stage backdrop behind Nicholson.

      * Continuity: In part of his escape, Shears drags his empty canteen held in his belt. But soon after, when he is encountered by native people, the canteen has disappeared.

      * Continuity: When Shears leaves the village he is sent off in a boat with a driver. The next few scenes show him running out of supplies. But there is no driver, Shears is by himself.

      * Continuity: When Col. Saito leaves Col. Nicholson and the other officers standing in the sun their shadows lengthen during the day. The scene then cuts to a view from inside the 'hospital' and the shadows of the officers are noticeably shorter.

      * Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): It wouldn't have been necessary for Joyce, the Canadian, to go to the UK to enlist to fight against the Japanese, as he says when being interviewed to join the commando group going back to the Kwai. Canada joined the war only a couple of days after war was declared by the British, and Joyce could easily have enlisted at home in Montreal.

      * Factual errors: The Japanese army did not use American Willys-Overland jeeps yet we see one in the opening title sequence complete with Browning machine gun.

      Filming Locations
      Ambepussa, Sri Lanka
      Central Province, Sri Lanka
      Colombo, Sri Lanka
      Government Rest House, Kitulgala, Sri Lanka
      Kandy, Central Province, Sri Lanka
      Kelani River, Sri Lanka
      Kitulgala, Sri Lanka
      Mahara, Sri Lanka
      Mount Lavinia Hotel - 104 Hotel Road, Mt. Lavinia, Sri Lanka
      Mt. Lavinia Hotel, Sri Lanka
      Mt. Lavinia, Sri Lanka
      Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, Central Province, Sri Lanka
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 2 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Re: Classic War Movies- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

      The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British-American epic war film directed by David Lean
      and starring William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness, and Sessue Hayakawa.
      Based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai (1952) by Pierre Boulle,
      the film is a work of fiction, but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway
      in 1942–1943 for its historical setting.
      The movie was filmed in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The bridge in the film was near Kitulgala.

      Carl Foreman was the initial screenwriter, but Lean replaced him with Michael Wilson.
      Both writers had to work in secret, as they were on the Hollywood blacklist
      and had fled to England in order to continue working.
      As a result, Boulle (who did not speak English) was credited and received
      the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; many years later,
      Foreman and Wilson posthumously received the Academy Award

      The film was widely praised, winning seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture)
      at the 30th Academy Awards. In 1997, the film was deemed
      "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress.
      It is widely considered to be one of the greatest films in history.

      Brilliantly directed by David Lean,
      it's no wonder this film won 7 Academy Awards,
      and won endless others.
      William Holden, played a convincing and credible Commander.
      Supported by the Brits, Alec Guinness, and Jack Hawkins,
      this is wartime classic, based on true events.

      User Review

      A movie about madness
      Author: haplo from Sweden
      22 February 1999

      I have watched this movie several times and it is just getting better and better all the time. Why? Because this movie actually has a message built-in, this isn't a violent story, like "Saving Private Ryan" - also a good movie with a message - but it is still not a slow story.

      When I last saw it, I realised that there was something in the movie that I had never understood, this isn't a movie about war, torture or how it was to be a prisoner of war; this is a movie about madness and pride. The pride shows both in Saiko and Colonel Nicholson, they are so full of it that it is almost impossible for them to come to a civil-conclusion with the problems they have with each other. The madness is shown in Colonel Nicholson and Holden's character - here they are, two prisoners of war and they don't want to help each other out, instead they try to reach separate goals, and they are both willing to die for it.

      After you have watched this movie one is amazed by the performances made by Alec Guinness and William Holden and I must say that this is therefore one of the best War/Drama movies ever made My vote? 9 out of 10 naturally.
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 1 time, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Re: Classic War Movies- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

      Keith, im going to keep you busy in this forum ;-D

      As for my thoughts about BOTRK, I have always liked it and I like it even more so now-partially because I more so enjoy watching the actors in it as I advance in age. ;-))

      PS, if you want me to compile a sizable list of War Movies-just ask-as that is one of my two favorite genres.
      Es Ist Verboten Mit Gefangenen In Einzelhaft Zu Sprechen..
    • Re: Classic War Movies- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

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      Best Wishes
      London- England
    • Re: Classic War Movies- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

      From top to bottom this is one of the all time great war films.
      Or anti-war take you pick.
      ''baby sister i was born game and intend to go out that way.''
    • Re: Classic War Movies- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

      Agreed. "What have I done?" ranks with the top film quotes of all time and the entire cast were at the top of their form. I still get a chill when I hear Colonel Bogie and remember the shoeless feet keeping time with the tempo and Alec's facial tic as he proudly watches his command.
      Just brilliant.

      We deal in lead, friend.
    • Re: Classic War Movies- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

      I just recently saw and bought this movie at WalMart-for $5 bucks. I snatched the last copy they had on display. However, since then we moved house, and I have no clue what box its in. I've been wanting to watch it-as well as others I bought and never got around to watching-such as Ben Hur, The TEn Commandments, Master adn Commander and others.

      Just bought last night-The Toy-w/ Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason-and some animated flick put out by the guys who do South Park-can't recall its name but for $5 bucks-ill give it a shot.
      Es Ist Verboten Mit Gefangenen In Einzelhaft Zu Sprechen..
    • Re: Classic War Movies- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

      A true classic. I'm always impressed by Nicholson's facial tic as he watches the review of his starving, tattered men marching into the camp.
      The only thing that bothers me is not about the film itself, but the Academy, which awarded it best soundtrack despite the fact that the Colonel Bogie March was a WWI staple. It was a brilliant use of it, but the rest of the soundtrack was forgettable.

      We deal in lead, friend.