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The Night the Bridge Fell Down
The Night the Bridge Fell Down.jpg
GenreDisaster film
Written byArthur Weiss
Ray Goldstone
Michael Robert David
Directed byGeorg Fenady
StarringJames MacArthur
Desi Arnaz Jr.
Char Fontane
Richard Gilliland
Leslie Nielsen
Eve Plumb
Barbara Rush
Gregory Sierra
Music byRichard LaSalle
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducerIrwin Allen
CinematographyJohn M. Nickolaus Jr.
EditorAxel Hubert
Running time180 minutes
Production companyIrwin Allen Productions
DistributorWarner Bros. Television
Original networkBBC One (UK)
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseSeptember 6, 1980 (1980-09-06) (UK)
February 28, 1983 (1983-02-28) (US)

The Night the Bridge Fell Down is an American disaster film starring James MacArthur, Desi Arnaz Jr., and Leslie Nielsen. The movie was produced by Irwin Allen in 1979 in association with Warner Bros. Television for NBC but was not aired in the United States until February 28, 1983 – the same night the final original episode of M*A*S*H ("Goodbye, Farewell and Amen") aired on rival network CBS. (ABC showed American Gigolo).[1]

The fictional Madison Bridge is represented by the Astoria-Megler Bridge on the Columbia River, the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.


Engineer Cal Miller's unauthorized attempt to close off the dangerously unstable Madison Bridge is foiled by the police pursuit of a robbery suspect. The chase ends in a multi-car accident in the middle of the bridge, which begins falling apart during the confusion. Miller organizes a rescue operation for the handful of bystanders who find themselves stranded with the armed suspect and a wounded policeman on a short stretch of crumbling pavement high atop a single collapsing pylon.



The casting of Eve Plumb and Barbara Rush was announced in July 1979.[2]


The show fared poorly in the ratings against the last episode of MASH, which attracted the largest audience for any single show in television history. It had 10 percent of the viewers in New York, 12 percent in Los Angeles and 5 percent in San Francisco.[3]


  1. ^ "'M*A*S*H,' 11 YEARS OLD, ENDS TONIGHT". The New York Times. United Press International. 28 February 1983. Retrieved 24 December 2021.
  2. ^ UPDATE Los Angeles Times 29 July 1979: o5.
  3. ^ BEDELL, SALLY (2 March 1983). "LAST SHOW SCORES BIG". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 December 2021.