A Bridge Too Far (film)
|A Bridge Too Far|
original film poster
|Directed by||Richard Attenborough|
|Produced by||Joseph E. Levine
Richard P. Levine
|Screenplay by||William Goldman|
|Based on||A Bridge Too Far
by Cornelius Ryan
|Music by||John Addison|
|Cinematography||Geoffrey Unsworth, BSC|
|Edited by||Antony Gibbs|
|Joseph E. Levine Productions|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release date(s)||June 15, 1977|
|Running time||176 minutes|
|Language||English, German, Dutch, Polish|
A Bridge Too Far is a 1977 epic war film based on the 1974 book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan, adapted by William Goldman. It was produced by Joseph E. Levine and Richard P. Levine and directed by Richard Attenborough.
The film tells the story of the failure of Operation Market Garden during World War II, the Allied attempt to break through German lines and seize several bridges in the occupied Netherlands, including one at Arnhem, with the main objective of outflanking German defences.
The name for the film comes from an unconfirmed 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."
The ensemble cast includes Dirk Bogarde, Ryan O'Neal, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould, Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman, Hardy Krüger, Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, Maximilian Schell and Liv Ullmann. The music was scored by John Addison, who took part in Market Garden.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast and roles
- 3 Production
- 4 Reception
- 5 Story of A Bridge Too Far
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Introduction and planning
The film begins with a montage of archival film footage narrated by a Dutch woman, Kate ter Horst, describing the state of affairs in September 1944. The Allied advance is being slowed by overextended supply lines. A Dutch family, part of the Dutch resistance underground, observes the German withdrawal toward Germany. The Germans in the Netherlands have few resources in men or equipment and morale is very poor.
U.S. General George S. Patton and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery have competing plans for ending the war quickly, and being the first to get to Berlin. Under political pressure, Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower chose Montgomery's Operation Market Garden.
Operation Market Garden envisions 35,000 men being flown 300 miles from air bases in England and being dropped as much as 64 miles behind enemy lines in the Netherlands. The largest airborne assault ever attempted, with Lieutenant-General Frederick Browning saying, "We're going to lay a carpet, as it were, of airborne troops" over which armoured divisions of XXX Corps can pass and confidently suggests that "We shall seize the bridges - it's all a question of bridges - with thunderclap surprise, and hold them until they can be secured".
Two divisions of U.S. paratroopers are responsible for securing the road and bridges as far as Nijmegen. A British division, under Major-General Urquhart is to land near Arnhem, and take and hold the far side of the bridge at Arnhem, backed by Polish paratroopers under General Sosabowski. XXX Corps are to push up the road to Arnhem, as quickly as possible, over the bridges captured by the paratroopers, and reach Arnhem two days after the drop.
After the Market Garden command briefing, General Sosabowski voices his deep doubts that the plan can work. American commander General Gavin worries about parachuting in daylight.
British commanders brief that they are badly short of transport aircraft and the area near Arnhem is ill-suited for a landing. They will have to land in an open area eight miles (13 km) from the bridge. The British officers present at that briefing do not question the orders, but Sosabowski walks up to check the RAF briefing officer's uniform insignia and says "Just making sure whose side you're on." Later, when General Urquhart briefs his officers, some of them are surprised they are going to attempt a landing so far from the bridge, but they have to make the best of it. General Urquhart tells them that the key for the eight mile distance from the drop zone to the bridge, is the use of gliders to bring in Jeeps. Browning lays out that if any one group fails, the entire operation fails.
The consensus among the British top brass is that resistance will consist entirely of "Hitler Youth or old men", but young British intelligence officer, Major Fuller, brings reconnaissance photos to General Browning showing German tanks at Arnhem. Browning dismisses the photos, and also ignores reports from the Dutch underground. Browning does not want to be the one to tell Montgomery of any doubts because many previous airborne operations have been cancelled. Major Fuller's concerns are brushed off and he is removed from duty.
British officers note that the portable radios are not likely to work for the long distance from the drop zone to the Arnhem Bridge amid the water and trees of the Netherlands. They choose not to rock the boat and do not convey their concerns up the chain of command.
At the XXX Corps briefing, the overall plan is outlined by Brian Horrocks, laying out the bridges that will be taken by the paratroopers, held and then secured by ground forces. Speed is the vital factor, as Arnhem must be reached within 2–3 days. It 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 Arnhem 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 totally 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. Model, thinking that the Allies are trying to capture him, panics and retreats from Arnhem. However, soon after landing, troubles beset Urquhart's division. Many of the Jeeps either don't arrive by gliders at all or are shot up in an ambush. Their radio sets are also useless, meaning no contact can be made with either paratroopers moving into Arnhem or XXX Corps. Meanwhile, German forces reinforce Nijmegen and Arnhem.
XXX Corps' progress is slowed by German resistance, the narrowness of the highway and the need to construct a Bailey bridge to replace the destroyed bridge at Son. XXX Corps is able to move onto the Grave bridge without much resistance, but is halted at Nijmegen. There, soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division perform a dangerous daylight river crossing in flimsy canvas-and-wood assault boats. Ultimately though, the river crossing is successful, and the Nijmegen bridge is captured. The Germans close in on the isolated British paratroopers occupying part of Arnhem at the bridge. Urquhart is separated from his men, and the supply drop zones are overrun by the Germans. German attacks on the paratroopers at the bridge are repelled. British armour continues to fight its way up the corridor, but is delayed by strong German resistance.
After securing Nijmegen Bridge, XXX Corps waits several hours for its infantry forces to finish securing the town. Finally Sosabowski's troops enter the battle. They attempt to reinforce the British in Arnhem, but fail. With the Germans fully alert, they gun down numerous Poles during their drop. They are only able to get a few men across to reinforce the British. After days of house-to-house fighting in Arnhem, with paratroops versus crack SS infantry and panzers, many of the paratroopers are either captured or forced to withdraw, and the city is indiscriminately razed.  Operation Market Garden has failed. Urquhart manages to escape capture with fewer than two thousand of his troops, the remainder are forced to stay behind and give themselves up. Urquhart confronts Browning about his personal feeling about the operation, which was determined to have been 90% successful by a satisfied Montgomery. When asked if he thinks the operations went well, Browning replies "Well, as you know, I always felt we tried to go a bridge too far" (contradicting his earlier optimism for the operation).
Cast and roles
|Dirk Bogarde||Lieutenant-General Frederick "Boy" Browning||GOC I British Airborne Corps, and at HQ First Allied Airborne Army as its deputy commander, British Army at Nijmegen|
|James Caan||Staff 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 Caine||Lieutenant-Colonel J.O.E. Vandeleur||CO, 3rd Battalion (Infantry), The Irish Guards, The Guards Armoured Division, XXX Corps, British Army|
|Michael Byrne||Lt. Col. Giles Vandeleur||acting CO, 2nd Battalion (Armoured), The Irish Guards, British Guards Armoured Division. Cousin to 'Joe'.|
|Sean Connery||Major General Roy Urquhart||GOC, 1st British Airborne Division, Arnhem|
|Edward Fox||Lt. Gen. Brian Horrocks||GOC, XXX Corps, British Second Army|
|Elliott Gould||Col. Robert Stout
(based on Robert Sink)
|CO, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division|
|Gene Hackman||Maj. Gen. Stanisław Sosabowski,||CO, Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, Polish Armed Forces|
|Anthony Hopkins||Lt. Col. John Frost||CO, 2nd Parachute Battalion, 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st British Airborne Division at Arnhem road bridge|
|Ryan O'Neal||Brig. Gen. James Gavin||CO, US 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. 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 Redford||Maj. Julian Cook||CO, 3rd Battalion, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne, U.S. Army seizing key bridges over the Maas-Waal Canal and the river assault crossing of the Waal river.|
|Denholm Elliott||RAF meteorologist officer||fictional|
|Peter Faber||Capt. Arie D. "Harry" Bestebreurtje||Liaison officer with the 82nd Airborne Division, Office of Strategic Services, Royal Dutch Army|
|Christopher Good||Maj. Carlyle
(based on Maj. Allison Digby Tatham-Warter)
|CO, A Company, 2nd Parachute Battalion, 1st Parachute Brigade, Arnhem, British Army|
|Frank Grimes||Maj. Fuller
(based on Brian Urquhart)
|G-2 (Intelligence Officer) for the 1st Airborne Corps, British Army stationed at the HQ located in Moor Park Golf Club, Hertfordshire, England|
|Jeremy Kemp||RAF briefing officer||RAF, but the briefing probably took place at the 1st Airborne Corps HQ located in Moor Park Golf Club, Hertfordshire, England|
|Nicholas Campbell||Capt. Glass
(based on Captain LeGrand King "Legs" Johnson)
|CO, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 502PIR,|
|Paul Copley||Pvt Wicks||Batman to Lt. Col. Frost, CO, 2nd Parachute Battalion, British Army|
|Donald Douglas||Brigadier Gerald Lathbury||CO, 1st Parachute Brigade, British Army in Arnhem. Wounded and briefly paralysed, Lathbury made a complete recovery and escaped captivity during Operation Pegasus.|
|Keith Drinkel||Lieutenant Cornish
(based on Captain Eric Mackay, 9th Parachute Sqdn R.E.)
|1st Airborne Division|
|Colin Farrell||Corporal Hancock||1st British Airborne Division, Urquart's batman|
|Richard Kane||Col. 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 Maxwell||Maj. Gen. Maxwell Taylor||CO, 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army at the Zon bridge and later St-Oedenrode|
|Stephen Moore||Maj. Robert Steele
(based on Major Anthony "Tony" John Deane–Drummond)
|Second–in–Command, 1st Airborne Divisional Signals British Army, Arnhem|
|Donald Pickering||Lt. Col. C.B. Mackenzie||Principal General Staff Officer (Chief of Staff), Headquarters, 1st Airborne Division, British Army, Divisional HQ at the Hartenstein Hotel|
|Gerald Sim||Col. Sims
(based on (acting Colonel) Lt. Col. Arthur Austin Eagger)
|Senior Medical Officer, 1st Airborne Corps, R.A.M.C., British Army|
|John Stride||Grenadier Guards major (based on Captain Lord Carrington)||British Grenadier Guards Commander who argues with Major Cook after 82nd capture Nijmegen Bridge|
|Alun Armstrong||Cpl. Davies||2nd Battalion, 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st British Airborne Division|
|David Auker||'Taffy' Brace||Medic, 1st British Airborne Division|
|Michael Bangerter||British staff colonel||British XXX Corps staff officer at General Browning's HQ|
|Philip Raymond||Grenadier Guards Colonel (based on Lt. Colonel Edward H. Goulburn)||C.O. 2nd Armoured Grenadier Guards Battalion|
|Michael Graham Cox||Capt. Jimmy Cleminson||T/Capt., [Sir] James Arnold Stacey "Jimmy" Cleminson Officer Commanding, 5 Platoon (B Company), 3rd Parachute Battalion, British Army, Arnhem|
|Garrick Hagon||Lieutenant Rafferty||Lieutenant, 101st Military Police Platoon, 101st Airborne Division, Division Field Hospital, U.S. Army|
|John Ratzenberger||Lt James Megellas
(based on Lt James Megellas)
|Lieutenant, Company H, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army, at Waal River crossing|
|Arthur Hill||U.S. Army surgeon (colonel)||Chief Division Surgeon Lt Col. David Gold, 101st Airborne Division Clearing Station|
|Mark Sheridan||Sergeant Tomblin||2nd Battalion, 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st British Airborne Division|
|George Innes||Sergeant MacDonald||British 1st Airborne Division radio operator at the Hartenstein Hotel|
|Hardy Krüger||Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Karl Ludwig||Based on Heinz Harmel, as he did not want his name to be mentioned in the film|
|Maximilian Schell||General der Waffen-SS Wilhelm Bittrich||CO of II SS Panzer Corps|
|Wolfgang Preiss||Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt||OB West (commander of the German forces on the Western Front)|
|Walter Kohut||Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model||CO of Army Group B|
|Hartmut Becker||German Army sentry|
|Hans von Borsody||General der Infanterie Günther Blumentritt|
|Lex van Delden||Oberscharführer Matthias||Bittrich's aide.|
|Fred Williams||Hauptsturmführer Viktor Eberhard Gräbner||Commander of the reconnaissance battle group of 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen|
|Laurence Olivier||Dr. Jan Spaander|
|Liv Ullmann||Kate ter Horst|
|Siem Vroom||Underground leader|
|Erik van 't Wout||Underground leader's son|
|Marlies van Alcmaer||Underground leader's wife|
|Mary Smithuysen||Old Dutch lady|
|Hans Croiset||Old Dutch lady's son|
|Josephine Peeper||Cafe waitress|
|Richard Attenborough||Lunatic wearing glasses (uncredited cameo)|
|Albert van der Harst||Medic|
- Colonel John Waddy
- Major General John Dutton Frost
- General James M. Gavin
- Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks
- Major General Roy Urquhart
- Brigadier Joe Vandeleur
Source: Goldman, William Goldman's Story of a Bridge Too Far
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,) 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 Portuguese, ex-Portuguese Air Force, 6153, and 6171, (N9984Q and N9983Q), and two Air International Dakotas, 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 back-up 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 wind storm 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 sail-plane, provided by a member of the London Gliding Club, Dunstable, was towed aloft for the interior take-off 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.
The scenes around the 'Arnhem' bridge were actually shot in Deventer, where a similar bridge over the IJssel was still available. Although the original bridge in Arnhem still existed, it was, by the mid-1970s, sitting in a 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 (a white building which in the film featured the Nazi command centre) and the main church can be seen.
The film includes some distortions of military history that are not present in the book; in particular, the reasons for the delay in XXX Corps reaching the Arnhem bridge (leading to the failure of the attack) differ considerably from those given in Cornelius Ryan's text.
An episode of the Dutch TV history programme Andere Tijden (English: Different Times) about the making of this movie stated that producer Joseph E. Levine told the Deventer town government that their town would host the world premiere for A Bridge Too Far, on June 14, 1977. This never came to be, though, and Deventer even missed out on the Dutch premiere, which was held in Amsterdam.
- Joseph E. Levine financed the $22 million budget himself. During the production, he would show footage from the film to distributors who would then pay him for distribution rights. By the time the film was finished, Levine had raised $26 million, putting the film $4 million in the black before it had even opened.
- United Artists agreed to pay $6 million for US and Canada distribution rights.
- 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).
- According to Levine, the foreign star that distributors most wanted in the film was Robert Redford, followed by Sean Connery.
- Richard Attenborough wanted to use Steve McQueen for a role and approached him. McQueen's manager demanded $6 million for three weeks on A Bridge Too Far and three weeks on Apocalypse Now, plus Levine would buy McQueen's house which McQueen was having trouble selling. Levine refused.
- 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.
- Michael Caine's scripted line to order the column of tanks and armoured cars into battle, was "Forward, go, charge". Luckily for Caine, Lieutenant Colonel Joe Vandeleur was on the set, so he could ask him what the actual line was. Vandeleur told him, "I just said quietly into the microphone, 'Well, get a move on, then'", which is what Caine says in the film as released.
- Edward Fox had known General Horrocks before working on the film, and considered him a friend; thus, Fox took great care to portray him accurately. Years later, he would cite his portrayal of Horrocks as his favorite film role.
- Dirk Bogarde had known General Browning from his time on Field Marshal Montgomery's staff during the war and took issue with the film's largely negative portrayal of the general. General "Boy" Browning's widow, the author Daphne du Maurier, ferociously attacked his characterisation and "the resultant establishment fallout, much of it homophobic, wrongly convinced [Bogarde] that the newly ennobled Sir Richard had deliberately contrived to scupper his own chance of a knighthood."
- Sean Connery initially turned down his role, fearing that the film would glamorize a military disaster, but changed his mind after reading the finished screenplay.
- Connery and Caine worked together on the 1975 film The Man Who Would Be King, although they had no scenes together in this movie.
- Even though Maximilian Schell spoke fluent English, he remained true to his character as General Bittrich and spoke no English in the movie.
- Audrey Hepburn (who had lived in the Netherlands during Market Garden) was the first choice to play Kate Ter Horst, but declined due to the low salary. Roger Moore was the first choice to play Horrocks but his contractual commitment to The Spy Who Loved Me prevented him from taking the part. Steve McQueen was originally offered the role of Major Cook but declined.
- Redford was paid $2 million for five weeks work.
- A Bridge Too Far was the first war film in which actors were put through boot camp prior to filming. Attenborough put many of the extras/soldiers through a mini-boot camp and had them housed in a barrack accommodation during filming.
The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics. According to a "making-of" documentary included in a special edition DVD of A Bridge Too Far, 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." Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 73% of 11 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.8 out of 10. While critics agreed that the film was impressively staged and historically accurate, many found the film too long and too repetitive. James Caan and Anthony Hopkins were cited by many critics for the excellence of their performances in a film filled with hundreds of speaking roles and cameos by many of the period's top actors.
The film was a box office disappointment in the US but performed well in Europe.
Story of A Bridge Too Far
To promote the film, scriptwriter William Goldman wrote a book titled Story of A Bridge Too Far. published in December 1977, which detailed his experiences making the movie as well as a summary of the script.
- Theirs is the Glory (1946 British film about the Battle of Arnhem)
- 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.
- "The Deep, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- Goldman 1977
- Ryan 1974, p. 67
- 00:11:37,480 frames 93/94
- 00:11:41,280 frames 94/95
- 00:17:21,120 frames 177/178
- The dialogue between Frost and Bittrich's adjutant requesting surrender, and getting a reply the paratroopers do not have the facilities to accept German surrender, never took place. Instead Brigadeführer Heinz Harmel, commander of the 10th SS Panzer Division, selected a British prisoner, Sergeant Stanley Halliwell, and sent him into the British perimeter to request that Frost surrender his forces. After arriving, Halliwell explained what Harmel wants; Frost gave Halliwell a message for Harmel to “Go to hell.”, as is portrayed in the film. Halliwell then told Frost, “If it’s all the same to you, Colonel, I’ll stay. Jerry [the Germans] will get the message sooner or later.” - p.356, Arthur
- In the movie '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
- Carried the primary responsibility for the 'Garden' ground offensive part of the operation
- Attacked bridge at Zon and later entered Eindhoven to meet British troops
- Arrived in the 3rd lift north of Nijemegen and advanced towards Arnhem
- 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.
- "Capt. Arie D. Bestebreurtje - World War II Special Operations Soldier". B26.com. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- 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.
- Dutch Wikipedia article
- 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 
- p.132, Ambrose, Immerman
- 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), 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 sgt, 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.
- 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.
- The role is based to a point that he was the Major responsible for divisional signals. His depiction in the movie after landing is completely fictional.
- 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.
- he 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.
- 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
- 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
- The name is probably fictional since the event did not occur as portrayed in the movie
- Most decorated officer of the 82nd Division
- a member of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment claims there were no more than 200 men involved.
- 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
- "Geschiedenis 24 - Een Brug te Ver". Geschiedenis.vpro.nl. 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- A., C. (June 15, 1977). "The final decision will be mine". The Washington Post (1974-Current File).
- "Entirely Up To You, Darling"; page 152-3; paperback; Arrow Books; published 2009. isbn 978-0-099-50304-0
- A Bridge Too Far (1977) British Film Institute, retrieved 2009-10-19
- Papamichael, Stella. "A Bridge Too Far: Special Edition DVD (1977)," BBC website. Retrieved Sept. 5, 2010.
- "A Bridge Too Far (1977)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved Sept. 5, 2010.
- Canby, Vincent. "Film: It's a Long War In 'Bridge Too Far'," New York Times (June 16, 1977).
- Morgan, Jason. "A Bridge Too Far," FilmCritic.com (Jan. 9, 2006).
- European filmgoers are holding up 'Bridge' Beck, Marilyn. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 20 Oct 1977: a8.
- 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 0-340-22340-5 [NB: Book has no page numbers]
- Ryan, Cornelius (1974), A Bridge Too Far, London: Hamish Hamilton, ISBN 0-340-19941-5
- 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
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- A Bridge Too Far at the Internet Movie Database
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- A Bridge Too Far at AllMovie
- A Bridge Too Far at the TCM Movie Database
- "A Bridge Too Far". at British Cinema Greats.