“The Bridge on the River Kwai,” like “Beau Geste” before it, may well become the stiff-upper-lip classic of its time. Hollywood’s Sam Spiegel produced it in Ceylon, London’s David Lean directing, and it is swooningly beautiful in Technicolor and CinemaScope.
The strongest of several wartime conflicts is between Alec Guinness as a letter-of-the-law British officer, who is imprisoned somewhere near the Burma-Thailand border, and Sessue Hayakawa as his Japanese captor; others involve Jack Hawkins and William Holden. All are symbolized by a bridge — its building and its destruction.
The film is flawed only in its efforts to throw undue importance to Holden and by an exasperatingly cryptic finish. But don’t miss it!