THE BRIDGE (1929)
aka The Spy
Article 4269 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Charles Vidor
Featuring Nicholas Bela, Charles Darvas, Marbeth Wright
What it is: Thriller with a twist
A spy, sentenced to be hanged off the side of a bridge, makes an amazing escape when the rope breaks…. but there’s a catch.
For those who don’t recognize the story from the plot description, this is another adaptation of Ambrose Bierce’s classic, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. I’ve seen the 1962 French version of the story (which ended up as an episode on “Twilight Zone”), and if this version doesn’t quite equal that one, it comes very close to doing so, and is a worthy effort. It’s also more efficient, as it’s less than half the length of the later one. Back when I covered the 1962 version, I commented on how the scarcity of dialogue made it an ideal choice for showing in other countries, and I couldn’t help but notice how the same factor also made it an ideal choice for a silent movie; not a single title card is used or needed here. My favorite moment in this one was when the spy hears the drum being beaten and hearkens back in his mind to his son playing a drum, a truly elegant visual moment. In fact, many of my reactions and thoughts about this movie were very similar to the ones I made when I reviewed the 1962 movie, including the fact that, despite the fact that the twist is rather horrific, it’s not quite a genre movie. At any rate, this version of the story is recommended as well.