The Longest Day (1962) Poster


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While clearing a section of the Normandy beach near Ponte du Hoc, the film's crew unearthed a tank that had been buried in the sand since the original invasion. Mechanics cleaned it off, fixed it up and it was used in the film as part of the British tank regiment.
Dwight D. Eisenhower walked out on the film after only a few minutes, frustrated by the inaccuracies.
As a 22-year-old private, Joseph Lowe landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day with the Second Ranger Battalion and scaled the cliffs at Point-Du-Hoc. He scaled those 100-foot cliffs all over again, for the cameras, some 17 years later.
Richard Todd (playing Maj. John Howard, Officer Commanding D Company of The 2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, Air Landing Brigade, 6th Airborne Division) was himself in Normandy on D-Day, and participated as Capt. Todd of the 7th Parachute Battalion, 5th Parachute Brigade, British 6th Airborne Division. His battalion actually went into action as reinforcements, via a parachute jump (after the gliders had landed and completed the initial coup de main assault). Capt. Richard 'Sweeney' Todd was moved from the plane he was originally scheduled to jump from, to another. The original plane was shot down, killing everyone on board.
As part of John Wayne's contract, in addition to his high fee, he insisted on getting separate billing. The usual practice in film credits for this type of situation is to start off with "Starring John Wayne and *the other actors*; however, the credits begin with "starring *the other actors*... and John Wayne". Wayne's name appears last on the credits, while still meeting the separate billing clause of his contract. Many of the older cast members had actually fought in World War II, some even having taken part in the D-Day landings. They looked at Wayne's refusal to enlist--he sought and was given a deferral because he was married and had a family--with a fair degree of disdain.
During the filming of the landings at Omaha Beach, the American soldiers appearing as extras didn't want to jump off the landing craft into the water because they thought it would be too cold. Robert Mitchum, who played Gen. Norm Cota, was so disgusted with them that he jumped in first, at which point the soldiers had no choice but to follow his example.
In addition to Sean Connery, who made his debut as James Bond the same year this film was shot, two other actors in the film were Gert Fröbe and Curd Jürgens--two future Bond villains.
The piper who played the bagpipes as Lord Lovat's commandos stormed ashore is played by the late Pipe Maj. Leslie de Laspee, who was at the time Pipe Major of the London Scottish Pipe Band and personal piper to HM the Queen Mother. The actual man who did this stirring deed on D-Day is Bill Millin. He recently donated that very set of pipes to the national war memorial in Edinburgh Castle.
20th Century-Fox was taking a real gamble making this film. At $10 million it was a hugely daring venture, but even more risky was Cleopatra (1963), which was being filmed concurrently. This was to set Fox back the then unprecedented sum of $40 million. Although "Cleopatra" did well at the box office, it was simply too expensive to recoup its costs and nearly bankrupted the studio. Fortunately, this film turned out to be one of Fox's biggest hits and helped offset the financial damage caused by the Egyptian epic.
Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was considered for the role of himself in the film, and he indicated his willingness. However, it was decided that makeup artists couldn't make him appear young enough to play his WWII self.
According to several German veterans, Maj. Werner Pluskat was not at his command bunker in Omaha Beach when the first wave of the invasion forces landed, as depicted in this film. He was in a bordello in Caen.
Just before shooting began in Corsica, Darryl F. Zanuck was approached by a man stating he represented the beach owners. He insisted on a $15,000 payment or else they would drive modern cars along the beach. Zanuck paid the money, but it was later discovered to be a scam as there were no private beaches in Corsica. Zanuck eventually won damages after an eight-year lawsuit.
With a $10-million budget, this was the most expensive black & white film ever made until Schindler's List (1993).
One of the very first World War II films made by an American studio in which the members of each country spoke nearly all their dialog in the language of that country: the Germans spoke German, the French spoke French, and the Americans and the British spoke English. There were subtitles on the bottom of the screen to translate the various languages. There were two versions of this movie, one where all the actors spoke English and the other(the better known one) where the French and German actors spoke their respective languages.
In his memoirs Christopher Lee recalls being rejected for a role in the movie because he didn't look like a military man (he served in the RAF during WW2).
Col. Benjamin Vandervoort was very disappointed to find that he was being played in the movie by John Wayne, since even 17 years after D-Day Vandervoort was still a decade younger than the 54-year-old Wayne.
In Italy for the filming of Cleopatra (1963), Roddy McDowall became so frustrated with the numerous delays during its production, he begged Darryl F. Zanuck for a part in this picture just so he could do some work. He ended up with a small role as an American soldier. Richard Burton, who was also filming Cleopatra, also took the opportunity caused by the long delays to take a cameo role of an RAF pilot.
Sean Connery asked that his scenes be filmed quickly so he could get to Jamaica in time to star in Dr. No (1962).
Curd Jürgens plays Gen. Blumentritt. In real life, Jurgens had been imprisoned by the Nazis.
To give an idea of the scale of this film, producer Darryl F. Zanuck effectively commanded more "troops" than any of the generals during the actual campaign.
The Spitfire planes needed to be fitted with new Rolls-Royce engines before being usable.
No gliders of the sort used in the invasion were available, so Darryl F. Zanuck commissioned new duplicates from the same company that built the originals.
The theme song to the movie, by Paul Anka, was used as the Regimental march of the Canadian Airborne Regiment (1968-1995)
One of producer Darryl F. Zanuck's big worries was that, as filming of the actual invasion drew near, he couldn't find any working German Messerschmitts, which strafed the beach, or British Spitfires, which chased them away. He finally found two Messerschmitt Me-108 trainers that were being used by the Spanish Air Force, and two Spitfires that were still on active duty with the Belgian Air Force, and rented all four of them for the invasion scenes.
An estimated 23,000 troops were supplied by the U.S., Britain and France for the filming. (Germans only appeared as officers in speaking roles.) The French contributed 1,000 commandos despite their involvement in the Algerian War at the time.
Richard Todd, who actually took part in the action at the bridge at Benouville (later renamed Pegasus Bridge), was offered the chance to play himself but joked, "I don't think at this stage of my acting career I could accept a part 'that' small." He played the commander of the actual bridge assault itself, Maj. John Howard, instead.
Although he changed the cap-badge to that of Major Howard's regiment, the beret that Richard Todd (who plays Howard) wears in this film is the one that he actually wore on D-Day.
John Wayne, who was nearly 55 at the time of filming, was widely felt to be too old and too heavy to play a paratrooper. The part was originally offered to 38-year-old Charlton Heston.
Only 6% of the paratroopers depicted actually achieved their goal--60% of the men and equipment parachuted in on D-Day were lost.
Kenneth More, playing Capt. Colin Maud, carried the shillelagh Maud had used in the actual invasion, which had been loaned to him by Maud.
Henry Grace was not an actor when being cast as Dwight D. Eisenhower, but his remarkable resemblance to Eisenhower got him the role.
The fleet scenes were filmed using 22 ships of the U.S. Sixth Fleet during maneuvers off Corsica between June 21-30, 1961. The cameras had to avoid shooting the area where the fleet's aircraft carrier was positioned, as there were no carriers in the invasion.
The Germans were deliberately not portrayed in stereotypical style. The words "Sieg Heil", for instance, are never said, although they can be seen written on a bunker wall in Ouistreham.
To create a more sympathetic stance to each of the different parties, Darryl F. Zanuck had Englishman Ken Annakin direct the British segments, the American parts were handled by American action specialist Andrew Marton and German Bernhard Wicki took care of the scenes with the German army officers.
The French Resistance woman shown at the start of the film is played by Irina Demick, who was Darryl F. Zanuck's girlfriend at the time.
Due to the massive cost overruns on the film Cleopatra (1963) (which was filming contemporaneously), Darryl F. Zanuck had to agree to a fixed filming budget. After he had spent the budgeted amount he started using his own money to pay for the production.
John Robinson, who plays Admiral Ramsay, actually took part in the D-Day landings.
Producer Darryl F. Zanuck paid the original author Cornelius Ryan $175,000 for the screen rights to his book.
Many of the military consultants and advisers - drawn from both sides - were actual participants on D-Day itself.
Red Buttons was cast in the film after he ran into Darryl F. Zanuck in a Paris cafe.
Eddie Albert, who played Col. Thompson, was a World War II veteran, but he served in the Pacific, not in Europe.
The production had 36 real landing craft and 2 real German planes at its disposal.
Darryl F. Zanuck and Cornelius Ryan collaborated on the screenplay, even though they hated each other almost from the first time they met. It was up to producer Elmo Williams to mediate between the two and keep the peace.
"Rupert" was not the first dummy paratrooper used in the war. The Luftwaffe dropped dummies along with real troops all over Holland and parts of Belgium in the opening of the Battle for France.
It only took four days to shoot John Wayne's cameo, although it was one of the more lengthy of all the cameos in the film.
The Messerschmitts used to portray Luftwaffe fighters were not Bf-109s, but were actually Bf-108 Taifuns, a four-seat cabin monoplane design with a wider fuselage.
Despite the Cornelius Ryan connection, the only stars to appear in both this film and A Bridge Too Far (1977) are Sean Connery and Wolfgang Preiss.
Four Spitfires were used in the strafing sequence. They were all ex-Belgian target tugs and all were MK9s. The serial numbers were MH415, MK297, MK923 and MH434 and all are, as of this writing, still extant. The Spitfires were assembled and co-ordinated by former Free French Spitfire pilot Pierre Laureys, who flew with 340 Squadron, a Free French unit in the RAF. The four Spitfires were, of course, repainted in 340 Squadron markings. Spitfire MK923 was owned by Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson from 1963-1998.
During shooting in Ste. Mère-Eglise, traffic was stopped, stores were closed and the power was shut down in order not to endanger the paratroopers who were unused to night drops in populated areas. Still, the lights and staged fire proved too difficult to work around, and only one or two jumpers managed to land in the square - with several suffering minor injuries. One of the initial jumpers broke both legs in landing. Ultimately, plans to use authentic jumps were abandoned, opting instead for rigged jumps from high cranes.
The character who calls the homing pigeons on Juno beach "Traitors" when they appear to fly east towards Germany is Canadian journalist Charles Lynch, who landed with the Canadians and covered the landings for Reuters.
When cost overruns on Cleopatra (1963) threatened to force 20th Century Fox to shut down production of this film, Darryl F. Zanuck flew to New York to save his project. After an impassioned speech to Fox's board, Zanuck regained control of the company he founded, ultimately finishing this picture and getting the production of "Cleopatra" under control.
The role of Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort was sought by Charlton Heston, but John Wayne decided to take the part at the last minute, and Heston was out.
Donald Houston, who has one scene as an RAF pilot, actually was in the RAF during the World War II.
A number of sources credit Christopher Lee and Geoffrey Bayldon as being in this project but Lee denies working on the film and Bayldon is nowhere to be seen in the final print.
Alongside the three credited directors, Gerd Oswald directed the parachute drop scene and Darryl F. Zanuck himself did some pick-ups.
Pundits nicknamed the film "Z-Day".
During the scene in which Brig. Gen. Norman Cota (Robert Mitchum) is complaining to Col. Thomson (Eddie Albert) about the weather and the number of men being cooped up, he turns to the adjutant and orders him to turn down the radio. The song playing on the radio at that moment is an instrumental of the 1943 Cole Porter tune, "Don't Fence Me In".
Gen. James Gavin, played by Robert Ryan, was actually born James Ryan, but put up for adoption at age two, and adopted by Martin and Mary Gavin at age seven.
In 1963 the civil rights organization the NAACP accused Hollywood studios of racial discrimination. Using this film as an example, it cited the fact that despite there being some 1,700 black soldiers who took part in the actual landings, the film featured just a single black actor. He's an extra, and he can be seen on a landing craft (around 1 hr 48 mins) in the film, right in the middle of the frame.
Adolf Hitler doesn't make an appearance in the film. In reality, he slept through the start of the D-Day landings, having taken a sleeping pill.
As would be done later in Patton (1970), the Twentieth Century-Fox logo is never shown.
Although the screenplay is credited to Cornelius Ryan, many other writers worked on the film.
Darryl F. Zanuck was continually at Andrew Marton's shoulder when he was directing the American sequences.
The scene of the French commando assault in Ouistreham was filmed in the nearby town of Port-en-Bessin. A building seen in the background of the long tracking shot is painted with the words "Bazar de Ouistreham". A local resident has indicated that this sign originally said "Bazar de Port-en-Bessin", but the town name was painted over to say "Ouistreham" for filming, then restored to say "Port-en-Bessin" after filming. As of 2013 the paint of the lettering on the building is still visible but has faded on the town name portion so that both the "Port-en-Bessin" and "Ouistreham" lettering can now be seen.
As there was a naturist resort two miles inland from the Corsican beach, it was necessary to post signs warning the naturists not to approach the water during filming.
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's (Werner Hinz) son, Manfred Rommel, is played by Michael Hinz, the real-life son of Werner Hinz.
One of the uncredited writers on the film was James Jones, author of "From Here to Eternity".
When leading the assault at Pegasus Bridge, Richard Todd (Major Howard) cries, "Up the Ox and Bucks." He and his men belonged to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. This regiment was formed in 1881 by the merger of the 43rd and 52nd Regiments of Foot, first raised in 1741 and 1755 respectively.
Darryl F. Zanuck was quoted in an interview as saying that he didn't think much of actors forming their own production companies, citing The Alamo (1960), produced by John Wayne, as a failure of such ventures. Wayne found out about this interview before being approached by Zanuck, and refused to appear in the film unless he was paid $250,000 for his role (when the other famous actors were being paid $25,000). Wayne got his requested salary.
Alec Guinness was sought for a cameo.
Film debut of Richard Dawson.
In researching his contribution to the script, Romain Gary uncovered one of Cornelius Ryan's mistakes: the casino at Ouistreham had not existed on June 6, 1944. Since the casino set had already been built, however, the scene taking place there was filmed anyway.
Many of the beach scenes were filmed in Corsica.
The two German "Messerschmitt 109 fighters" attacking the beach were actually four-seat Messerschmitt 108 liaison planes. In real life, Priller and Wodarcyk flew Focke Wulf 190's. Both survived.
Richard Burton said that he felt he was too old at 36 to play an RAF pilot. During his national service in the RAF he never saw a pilot older than thirty.
There was some controversy over the casting. At 54, John Wayne was 27 years older than Col. Benjamin Vandervoort had been at the time. At 52, Robert Ryan was 15 years older than Gen. James M. Gavin had been.
The highest-grossing black-and-white film until Schindler's List (1993).
Average Shot Length = ~8 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~6.5 seconds
The part of the British padre was first offered to Dirk Bogarde, who turned it down.
A colorized version of this film was released on VHS in 1994, the fiftieth anniversary of the invasion.
Throughout the film a drum can occasionally be heard in the background. It hits three high notes and fourth that is lower as in "bim, bim, bim, bum". These represent the three dots and a dash of the Morse code "V", as in "V for Victory".
In the Spanish version, Fernando Rey and Jesús Puente dubbed Henry Fonda and Peter Lawford.
Leslie Phillips only has one line in this movie.
At one point the camera zooms in on Crecy on the map. Crecy was where the English recorded one of their greatest victories ever, against the French.
Film debut of Siân Phillips.
Dewey Martin filmed scenes playing the cameo role of Lt.Wilder, but his scenes were deleted in post-production.
Robert E. Evans turned down a role as one of the American soldiers.
Russell Waters is credited by various sources as being in the film, but he is nowhere to be seen.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Despite being in two scenes Gert Fröbe never actually says a word.

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