Saturday, July 24, 2010

The 100 Best Movies: #52

52. The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957)

This is another one of my father's all-time favorite films. He was the one who introduced it to me. Seriously, he loves this movie (must be all the whistling)! And I have to admit it, my dad has good taste. David Lean's Oscar-winning World War II adventure is a true classic. The film tells the story of a British regiment of soldiers captured by the Japanese and forced to hard slave labor in a POW camp. The labor they are told to perform is to build a bridge for the Japanese enemy over the Kwai River. The commander of the regiment feels that the bridge is a perfect opportunity to boost morale amongst his men. In the meantime, an American POW is on a mission to stop the bridge from being built. It is an amazing mix of action, drama and even mystery as William Holden and Alec Guinness lock horns as the American and the British commander, respectively. Guinness (who by far gives one of the finest performances of his career) has some of the best speeches and scenes in trying to motivate his men to build the bridge. The most heartbreaking is the one after he has spent a week in "The Box" and has to get up and walk. Another scene-stealing performance comes from Sessue Hayakawa as the head of the Japanese POW camp (the warden, so to speak). It is a great film that won seven Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (for the dynamic Alec Guinness). Interesting side note: The screenwriters, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, were two of the Hollywood Ten (Blacklisted writers) and so were not allowed by Columbia Pictures to receive screen credit. The screenwriting credit went to the original novelist, Pierre Boulle (he also wrote the Planet of the Apes novel), who did not speak a word of English!

Next Post: #51

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