British WW2 prisoners of war are given the task, by their Japanese captors, of building a railway bridge in a harsh Asian jungle. Led by Col. Nicholson (Guinness), a stereotypical British officer, the prisoners score a moral victory over the Japanese by not only building the bridge, but running the whole show. Unknown to Nicholson, an allied demolition team are planning a spectacular opening for the bridge.
Colonel Nicholson: It only remains for me to say, thank you, Colonel Saito, for your kind attention, and are there any other questions?
Colonel Saito: One question... can you finish the bridge in time?
Colonel Nicholson: Frankly, the consensus of opinion is that it's impossible... but we'll certainly give it a go. After all, we mustn't forget that we've wasted over a month through an unfortunate disagreement for which I was not to blame.
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