A great story of courage and honor...should be required viewing.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Of Individual Sacrifice and Courage
Reviewer | 05/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Korean War is the setting for "The Bridges At Toko-Ri," a story of individual sacrifice and the high cost of freedom, from director Mark Robson. Navy fighter-pilot Harry Brubaker (William Holden), a veteran of World War II, is called to serve again when the conflict in Korea escalates, which takes him away from his wife, Nancy (Grace Kelly), two young children and a successful law practice. When his plane goes down after a mission, into the sea just short of the carrier, he survives; but he bitterly questions the fairness of what he has been asked to do, while everyone back home is able to go on with the routine of their lives, uninterrupted. Rear Admiral George Tarrant (Fredric March), a man who has had his own share of personal tragedy (he looks upon Brubaker as the son he has lost to the war, himself), tells Brubaker it's a matter of distance; we do this because we're here; back home they're only doing just as you would be doing if you were there. When Brubaker is granted shore leave, strings are pulled, and arrangements are made for Nancy and the children to join him; a brief respite, after which he must return to face his most formidable challenge yet, flying against the bridges that span the canyons at Toko-Ri. Very probably a suicide mission, it is nevertheless believed that knocking out these particular bridges could bring about a turning point in the war, and Lieutenant Brubaker is called upon once again to play a pivotal roll in deciding the outcome. An excellent supporting cast ably brings to life the characters that infuse this drama with humanity. Mickey Rooney is unforgettable as Mike Forney, the fighting, Irish helicopter pilot who fishes Brubaker out of the sea when his plane crashes. Memorable as well are Earl Holliman (Nestor Gamidge, Forney's partner), Robert Strauss (Beer Barrel), Charles McGraw (Commander Wayne Lee), Keiko Awaji (Kimiko) and Willis bouchey (Captain Evans). An excellent precursor to the more recent "Saving Private Ryan," and "U-571," "The Bridges At Toko-Ri" is an intimate study of individual courage and responsibility, and of the moral fortitude of which man is capable in times of crisis. There is a finality to the climax of this film that underscores the intense personal aspects of the larger conflict, and of the price demanded by certain individuals chosen to fulfill a seemingly random destiny. At the end of the movie, Admiral Tarrant sums it up succinctly when he ponders aloud: "Where do we get such men?" To which we can only answer: Where, indeed."
More fact than fiction
Cletus Van Damme | Edmond, OK USA | 06/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When asked to describe what flying from carriers was like during the Korean War, Tom Hudner, the only Navy pilot to win the Medal of Honor in Korea, replied, "Did you ever see the movie The Bridges at Toko-Ri? It was exactly like that." Toko-Ri is one of the finest aviation movies ever made.
Following Michener's death in 1997, the Library of Congress released the notes and journals that he compiled during the war, revealing many of the real characters and events behind the scenes of the popular story. Here's a list of the characters and the real persons on which they were based:
LT Harry Brubaker = Composite of LT Donald Brubaker and ENS Marvin Broomhead RADM George Tarrant = RADM John "Black Jack" Perry Mike Forney = Chief Duane Thorin Nestor Gamidge = Petty Officer Ernest Crawford CDR Wayne Lee ("CAG") = CDR Marshall Beebe
The novel and movie are based a mission flown against railway bridges in North Korea by prop-driven AD Skyraiders of VF-54. The strike was part of a series of attacks planned by VADM Joseph J. "Jocko" Clark which he called the "Cherokee Strikes."
Michener wrote the ending based on his belief that similar events occurred during the Cherokee Strikes. In reality, Broomhead and Thorin were both captured (albeit on different missions) and survived the war as POWs. Thorin later published his memoirs, which can be found online (google "Memoirs of Duane Thorin"). His trademark was a green baseball cap."
A great book makes a great movie...even in 1954...
Charles W. Adams | Adel, Iowa USA | 06/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I read this book when it first appeared in "Life" magazine and later reread it several times. I consider Michener's novel to be among the very best I've ever read and highly recommend it. It follows that Hollywood should (would)jump at the chance to adapt this short novel into a great anti-war film. As I remember the story, the film pretty much follows Michener's plot, with at least one notable exception that doesn't detract from the story's theme and impact. A strong cast, led by William Holden adds to the film's overall quality. Holden simply is outstanding as Lt. Harry Brubaker, a reserve World War II pilot called back to fly against the North Koreans and Chinese. But the supporting players, including Frederic March, Mickey Rooney, Robert Strauss and Charles McGraw are equally effective at depicting hard-nosed professionals. I only wish the staff and crew that put together the special effects were still around to share their thoughts on the spectacular bombing scenes using miniature sets, planes, etc."
No Propaganda Cliches Here
James L. | 12/17/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Bridges at Toko-Ri is a simple, yet powerfully told story of Navy pilot William Holden, really a lawyer and father of two daughters, questioning his role and purpose during the Korean War. Having narrowly escaped two brushes with danger, he finds himself being sent on a mission he fears may be his last. Holden is quietly excellent in this role, thoughtfully playing the real man behind the hero. I was somewhat surprised by the film's questioning of the war, having assumed that a film made during the Korean War would feature the usual flag waving cliches. I enjoyed the film's honesty, the realistic depiction of the attitudes of its characters, and I especially enjoyed the flight sequences, well filmed and exciting. It's a terrific, mature depiction of war."
Where do we get such men?
Larry Scantlebury | Ypsilanti, MI United States | 12/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I only tire of the fact that many folks believe this to be an anti war movie. I think it's a war movie. You make your own conclusions. It is possible, I would point out, to not want to go to war, to believe that at this point in our lives as a nation we should have figured out how to avoid it, without labeling movies as "Gung Ho" or anti war. We don't seem to be able to do that, regrettably, so To Ko Ri becomes that much more poignant.
The other area I wrinkle my brow at is the Grace Kelly role. Seems wasted, unecessary. We already know that Harry Brubaker is a decent guy and we don't need carefully angled shots of Grace's not-so-modest bosom to reveal to us that yes, she's a babe and Brubaker loves her.
But the rest of the movie is a portrait of what men and women do at war from 'This Band of Brothers' which is an unbelievably brilliant story by Spielberg and Hanks of the landing/drop at Normandy through Jim Brady's chronicles of Korea to Vietnam to Iraq. They do jobs. The chopper drivers, the CAG, Admiral Tarant, 'Paddles,' it's men and women at work.
The final scene is not a Hollywood ending but it is a real ending. Absolutely brilliant. That there is so much knowledge, compassion and understanding over this forgotten war by the Amazon reviewers and on the Internet impacted somewhat by this movie 52 years later, is a credit to those who saw service there and Michner's excellent novel. I saw this movie as a child. It still puts tears in my eyes. 5 stars. Not enough. Larry Scantlebury