I should be crawling into bed right now, but TCM has played an evil trick on me and I'm forced to watch this 3 hour epic.
The Bridge On The River Kwai is a masterpiece. William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa lead a magnificent cast in a story of POW's in Japanese held Thailand forced to build a bridge on the Burma railway. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942-43 for its historical setting.
The POW camp is run by the sadistic Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa), his sole concern is the construction of his bridge by the deadline. The Senior POW is Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness). His sole concern is proper military order. Both men are blinded by their vision.
The lone American in the camp is US Navy Commander Shears (William Holden), who has been held prisoner long before the British arrive and routinely bribes guards to ensure he gets sick duty, which allows him to avoid hard labor.
Shears manages to escape and returns to friendly territory. But he has a secret uncovered and is blackmailed by Major Warden (Jack Hawkins), a member of the British Special Forces, to lead a demolition team back to destroy the bridge.
Meanwhile, Colonel Nicholson has taken control of the construction. He inspires the men to stop sabotage efforts and build a solid, first rate bridge to instill esprit de corps. It is only when he discovers the demolition team's explosives that he realises what he has done.
It's a magnificent film. The cinematography is breathtaking and the performances stunning. There's a reason this film cleaned up at the 1957 film awards taking home 3 Golden Globes and 7 Oscars. It is widely regarded as one of the best films ever made.