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William Holden, Frederic March, Grace Kelly and Mickey Rooney head up the cast in this film set during the Korean War, and based on actual events.  Holden is Lieutenant Harry Brubaker, a naval reservist, who has been called away from his civilian life to serve in the US Navy during the war.  Brubaker is unhappy about fighting a war which he doesn’t necessarily believe in, and is bitter about having to leave his wife Nancy (Grace Kelly) and their two daughters behind.  Nancy does however join him when he has a week’s leave in Tokyo, but duty calls, and he has to return to the war.  Frederic March is Holden’s Admiral, who has suffered the loss of his two sons to war, and Mickey Rooney is Mike Forney, a helicopter pilot who saves Brubaker’s life at the beginning of the film.

I’m so glad I watched this film – had it not starred William Holden, I doubt I would have bothered, as war films are not a genre I particularly enjoy, but I found it utterly compelling.  Holden is excellent as ever as the brave Brubaker; he is brave because he has to be, but his fear and longing to be back with his family are all too believable.  Kelly is also good as the wife who is frightened for her husband but determines to be brave and supportive.  Frederic March, as always, is superb, giving an air of gravitas and genuine sadness at the situation in which he finds himself and his men, knowing the losses that families are suffering every day.

The scenes when the men launch their attack on the titular bridges are action packed and very tense (the film won the Academy Award for special effects), and the moments where Brubaker spends quality time with his family are perfectly placed, and show the two worlds between which Brubaker and men like him are torn.

This is definitely a film worth watching, showing the men not just as heroes, but also as people, making a sacrifice for their country.  It is emotional and satisfying, and all in glorious Technicolor.  Highly recommended.

Year of release: 1954

Director: Mark Robson

Producers: George Seaton, William Perlberg

Writers: James Michener (novel), Valentine Davies

Main cast: William Holden, Grace Kelly, Frederic March, Mickey Rooney

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