THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957) C widescreen 161m dir: David Lean
w/William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa, James Donald, Geoffrey Horne, Andre Morell, Peter Williams, John Boxer, Percy Herbert
Mammoth, magnificent war drama, and a superb motion picture. The story concerns a hardened, resolute British officer (Guinness), captive of the Japanese, who drives his men to build a bridge as therapy, and the attempt of an escaped prisoner (Holden) to demolish it. Performances, script, and production all deserve the highest praise. (The script was adapted, uncredited, by Carl Foreman, Michael Wilson, and Calder Willingham from the novel by Pierre Boulle -- but a 1992 reissue of the film features a partially revised script credit.)
From Variety 's review of the film: "The Bridge on the River Kwai is a gripping drama, expertly put together and handled with skill in all departments. From a technical standpoint, it reflects the care and competence that went into the $3 million-plus venture, filmed against the exotic background of the steaming jungles and mountains of Ceylon [repping Burma]. A story of the futility of war in general ... the underlying message is never permitted to impede. ...
"There are notable performances from the key characters, but the film is unquestionably Guinness'. He etches an unforgettable portrait of the typical British army officer, strict, didactic and serene in his adherence to the book. It's a performance of tremendous power and dignity. Hayakawa, once a star in American silents and long absent from the screen, also is solidly impressive as the Japanese officer, limning him as an admixture of cruelty and correctness."
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films : "This large-budget super production was a worldwide success, mainly because of its spectacular effects, Alec Guinness' performance, its careful style, and its somewhat folkloric atmosphere. However, it may also be because its moral was a general reflection of the years from 1955-1960. During this period an agonizing reappraisal took place, showing that many (not only those in the colonial armies), through narrow-mindedness, betrayed the cause they believed they served, even though they were as sincere as Colonel Nicholson [Guinness]."
Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Guinness), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography (Jack Hildyard), Editing (Peter Taylor), and Score (Malcolm Arnold).. Hayakawa was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.