Though billed in the credits after William Holden and Jack Hawkins, it is Alec Guinness who inevitably springs to mind in connection with David Lean’s classic jungle adventure set in a Japanese P.O.W. camp. Guinness won the Oscar for Best Actor for his insanely disciplined Colonel Nicholson, who misguidedly agrees to take charge of the enemy’s bridge-building project.

Guinness felt his performance needed a humorous edge, but Lean disagreed, and their relationship (spanning six films) remained a combustible mixture of affection and animosity. Charles Laughton, who was originally cast as Colonel Nicholson then dropped out, later said of the role, “I never understood the part until I saw Guinness play it.”

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David Lean
Running Time
161 minutes
Digital, Color