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The Long Day's Dying (1968)

Approved | | Drama, War | 28 May 1968 (USA)
The saga of three British soldiers and their German captive as they trek through the European countryside. Based on the novel by Alan White.



(novel), (screenplay)

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Complete credited cast:
Tony Beckley ...
Tom Cooper
Alan Dobie ...


The saga of three British soldiers and their German captive as they trek through the European countryside. Based on the novel by Alan White.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 May 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Todo un día para morir  »

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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was produced on a deceptively low budget. Prodicer Michael Deeley on his memoirs says that it cost between £150,000 and £200,000. See more »


Referenced in The Making of 'The Italian Job' (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Strange war film - definitely an acquired taste. Personally I found it disappointing.... but it has admirers.
21 April 2006 | by (Todmorden, England) – See all my reviews

In his third film, director Peter Collinson gives us this very unusual antiwar offering. A lost film that is very rarely screened nowadays, and completely unavailable on video or DVD, The Long Day's Dying is one of those movies that divides the majority of viewers into two camps - there are those who hail it as a cult classic and a film of tremendous power, and there are those who find it irritating and unappealing in the extreme. One of the most experimental things Collinson has done in this film is to use very little spoken dialogue; instead most of the talk is provided by voice-overs telling us what is going through a character's mind at a given moment. So, for example, when David Hemmings is creeping up behind a German soldier but cannot bring himself to cold-bloodedly shoot the man in the back, his thoughts are heard in voice-over as he thinks: "You're dead and you don't even know it. Now turn around. TURN AROUND!"

Three British paratroopers find themselves stranded in a deserted building somewhere in the European countryside during WWII. We learn that they were instructed to hide in the building and keep watch for advancing Germans, with a promise from their sergeant that he would return for them later to take them back to the rest of their unit. The trio consists of pacifist John (David Hemmings), violent Cliff (Tony Beckley) and the quiet but clear-thinking Tom (Tom Bell). However, several hours have gone by since the sergeant was supposed to relieve them, and the three are now beginning to grow anxious. Their plight worsens when a three-man German patrol happens by. The British paratroopers kill two of the Germans but the third - Helmut (Alan Dobie) - is only injured and becomes their prisoner. Now that their location is compromised the trio decide that their safest bet is to find their unit by themselves, so they set off with their prisoner on a trek through the countryside in search of their allies....

The Long Day's Dying is full of quiet understatement, with many moments where the camera lingers long on the faces of the protagonists. Even a small grin, a frown, or a hard swallow is very deliberate and is meant to be significant. The actors do a good job at getting across these subtle, almost imperceptible emotions. The story itself is rather dull, with little taking place over the 95 minute running time. One assumes that the film is some kind of allegory, with the handful of characters used as a microcosm - a small-scale representation, if you like - of the wider picture that was the Second World War. The violence is infrequent, but when they come the scenes of death and injury are very gory and show with grim realism the terrible things that weapons and booby traps can do to the human body. I found The Long Day's Dying a bit disappointing, as I couldn't get past the allegorical pretensions and the relentlessly unorthodox approach. But I certainly wouldn't pan it in the way that most professional critics have (Variety, Halliwell, Maltin, et al all hated this film). It's an unusual and very different sort of war film that some viewers - (admittedly, I'm not one of them)

  • will find interesting, powerful and thought-provoking.

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