A cross between a spaghetti western, The Dirty Dozen and The Guns of Navarone, a damn entertaining war film
In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Italian cinema revisited the Second World War and found itself a rich reservoir of action and adventure, for which its public was increasingly thirsty. Quel maledetto ponte sull’Elba is an excellent example of this trend. Part The Dirty Dozen (for the affection demonstrated towards its “inglourious bastards”), part The Guns of Navarone (for the impenetrable fortress and the emphasis on the idea of war as entertainment), part spaghetti western (with jeeps and machine guns instead of horses and colts). With its cast of tough guys and a plot that unhesitatingly takes us towards the sole objective, the film makes no claims to any kind of historical accuracy. And it would be unfair to expect it to. It’s like a game of war played by children: we don’t wish it on anyone, but it can be damn entertaining. And in the end, nobody’s really getting killed.
Germany 1945. At this stage, the outcome of the war appears all but certain. American Sergeant Richards leads a handful of men on a complicated mission: to blow up a bridge over the River Elba to delay the advance of the Soviet allies. But the Germans certainly aren’t going to just stand by and watch.