Movies about war frequently irritate me. A lot of them like to preach to the audience about how noble and selfless and courageous the soldiers are, and characterization is frequently one-sided: the noble Americans take on the evil Japanese, or Germans, or Vietnamese, or Russians, or what have you.
Thus, my expectations were not too high with The Bridge on the River Kwai. First, it's a war movie. Second, it was written in the fifties. Third, well, I don't have a third, but the fifties were pretty dang annoying, so it should count twice. My fears were pleasantly proven wrong.
TBOTRK works because it does not fall in the trap of painting good guys and bad guys, and every major character is portrayed sympathetically. About half an hour before the movie was over, it occurred to me that there was no possible ending available that I would like, because I felt invested enough in every character to care about what happened to them. Also, the message I took out of the movie was one about the inherent lunacy of war, and that the officers who run it are rather nuts and not heroes at all. This is one of only two possible messages that make for acceptable war movies, and I already watched "War is mind-breakingly terrible and utterly destroys everyone involved with it" in The Deer Hunter.
Finally, I'm not really old enough or enough of a classic movie buff to be familiar with the works of Alec Guinness outside of Obi Wan Kenobi. I made several hilarious jokes to myself early on involving Jedi Mind Tricks.
As for other complaints, the only female of note in the movie is Nurse Screws The Male Lead, so I could critique the utter lack of women in this one, but I'll give it a pass since it was made in 1957, when it was illegal for women to leave the house without the permission of their husbands. That's completely true. You can trust me; I was a history major.
So yes. Excellent movie. Well worth the buck I spent renting it. Time to update the Board.