TIL During filming of “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) the Dutch authorities would only shut down Nijmegen Bridge to film for 1 hour during a Sunday. The crew had to get the footage in that hour or else pay $125,000 a day to keep Robert Redford on set; hence it became known as the “Million Dollar Hour”.

Read more: https://cinephiliabeyond.org/jeeps-orchard-logistical-laters-attenboroughs-bridge-far/

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  1. An excerpt from the article on the filming:
    > “Eight o’clock is coming nearer and nearer and things seem as if they’re starting to break. Everything’s got to work because there’s no time to go back and do things over but the weather seems as if it’s going to be clear enough to shoot and now Redford’s in position and the stuntmen portraying German soldiers are climbing high in the girders of Nijmegen Bridge, roping themselves in, not for safety but because that’s what the Germans did there in their final defence, and then the signal comes that all the stuntmen are secured and you can begin to see the confidence flowing into [Richard] Attenborough, because there can’t be anything wrong on this shot, he’s thought so much about it, covered it from every angle the mind of man can come up with, and as crew members come running up to him with last-minute questions he’s snapping back the answers crisp and fast, ‘Is the machine gun nest all right like that?’ and ‘Yes, fine’ from Attenborough without a pause, and this questioner runs off while another comes up, going, ‘Will you see the sentry box emplacement in this shot?’ and the immediate ‘We will, thank you,’ takes care of that and ‘Have the Sherman tanks been positioned properly?’ and Attenborough quick takes a look, and says, ‘The Sherman tanks are splendid as you have them,’ and now an assistant director comes up behind with, ‘The corpses, Sir Richard,’ and even though that’s not a complete question, Attenborough knows precisely what to say and he says it, ‘The corpses must keep their eyes shut at all times, all corpses will be visible in this shot,’ and that cry echoes along the bridge as the assistant takes a megaphone and shouts to the extras playing dead Germans, ‘Corpses, listen now, you corpses, all corpses will keep eyes shut at all times while the cameras are rolling, you got that?—not one bloody blink from one bloody corpse and that’s final!’ and shooting time is almost on us now, and the rain is going to hold off, and now another assistant runs up, asking, ‘What about the smoke pots?’ and Attenborough, on top of his game, replies, ‘You may start the smoke pots now, thank you very much,’ and right then, this trusted aide comes roaring up, excitedly saying, ‘What about the jeeps in the orchard, sir?’
    > I was standing by Attenborough and for a moment his eyes glazed over and he had to be thinking that suddenly the world had gone mad or was the world sane and the mistake his—had he forgotten—forgotten something vital? He was standing on a freezing bridge—what orchard? What jeeps? Was there some part of the shot that he’d neglected, something involving an orchard and jeeps, and here he was, with smoke pots going and, high in girders, guys hanging and a star ready to shoot and 275 people waiting but this question must be answered because what if it ruins the shot and if the shot’s lost a million dollars are lost and then he smiles very sweetly to his aide and said, ‘We will not require jeeps in the orchard at all, thank you so much for reminding me.’ This, it turns out, referring to the last half of a later scene to be shot afterward, the first half having been shot the day before, all this in another location, and what this trusted aide had done was pick this particular moment to inquire if Attenborough’s camera angle for this future sequence would require the placement of jeeps in the distant background in order to match what had been done before.
    > The weather held, the shooting on the bridge went quickly, the last major disaster had been averted. As we left the bridge, there was a genuine feeling of exultation.

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