Die Brücken von Toko-Ri (1954)

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Die Brücken von Toko-Ri: Directed by Mark Robson. With William Holden, Grace Kelly, Fredric March, Mickey Rooney. Set during the Korean War, a Navy fighter pilot must come to terms with with his own ambivalence towards the war and the fear of having to bomb a set of highly defended bridges. The ending of this grim war drama is all tension.

“For those who remember it, the war in Korea remains an enigma from murky beginning to wobbly close (1950-1953). It wasnu0026#39;t even called a u0026#39;waru0026#39;. Instead politicians dubbed it a u0026#39;police actionu0026#39;, which of course fooled no one (30,000 plus, dead Americans). Toko-ri stands as perhaps the only film to capture the popular uncertainty of that conflict. Some reviewers characterize the movie as anti-war, but itu0026#39;s not. Instead it reflects an American publicu0026#39;s longing for peacetime following the horrific sacrifices of WWII and the fresh sacrifices of a new war they neither understood nor desired. In the movie, Fredric Marchu0026#39;s fatherly admiral makes the official case for intervention. In a key scene with a skeptical Grace Kelly, he lectures on communist aggression and the necessity of stopping them where they stand. In a routine actioner that would have been enough. Itu0026#39;s not enough for William Holdenu0026#39;s Captain Brubaker, however. And the fact that the Holden character continues to question his personal role reflects the mixed feelings of ordinary Americans, who continued to be torn between patriotic duty, on one hand, and the exotic nature of the conflict, on the other. To the filmu0026#39;s lasting credit, the ending does not cop-out in a blaze of heroics that might have undercut the scriptu0026#39;s ambivalent message. And it is this message of moral uncertainty that makes Bridges arguably the most accurate memorandum from that long-ago war. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe movie itself remains an A-grade production with some fine aerial photography, shipboard action, and special effects. Itu0026#39;s also one of Holdenu0026#39;s best understated performances, superior to his Oscar role in Stalag 17. Not to be overlooked is the Mickey Rooney character which remains a revealing one. His buoyant hijinks and rowdy behavior amount to a holdover of a familiar WWII stereotype. Yet the clowning here fails to gel with the prevailing mood, and would vanish from serious treatments by the time Vietnam rolled around. Then too, by the time of the movieu0026#39;s release (1954), audiences were eager to get back to the certainties of WWII, and studios responded with a spate of popular WWII fare, such as, Mr. Roberts (1955), Battle Cry (1955), and Operation Petticoat (1959). Except for a straggler or two, Hollywood would make no more Korean war films. And so, the process of forgetting that u0026quot;Forgotten Waru0026quot; had begun. But, in retrospect, this was one of the few films of the decade to foreshadow the Vietnam trauma that was to follow, while the final shot of Holdenu0026#39;s Captain Brubaker proved to be far more suggestive of war on the Asian mainland than critics could have anticipated (Toko-ri was not well received). Itu0026#39;s only now, many years later, that viewers can appreciate the prophetic value of that final image along with the peculiar merits of this 1950u0026#39;s Hollywood oddity.”


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