Throw in some of the finest outdoor cinematography ever put on celluloid, which may be enhanced or lessened depending on which playback format one views the original Cinerama print add in a great score by Alfred Newman & Ken Darby; some occasional exciting actions scenes, especially the bison stampede and the train robbery sequence .and you have one fine film Additionally, what makes this film distinctively different from most westerns of this era is the emotion expressed in numerous scenes .and, of course, its Cinerama format .
This massive work of art required 4 different directors for its five segments .that's pretty much unheard of .doesn't mean it makes it good, just varied and unique I originally saw this in the theater in the 60s when in my early twenties and could not fully appreciate it I have seen it on cable several times through the years and a recent viewing on TCM (11/17/11) makes me want to rent the blu-ray or whatever version will come closest to recreating the original format .
Plus it always cracks me up when characters in any movie of any era meet each other, kiss a couple of times and all of a sudden they're 'in love' with each other and the storybook ending where the bad guys die and the couple walks off into the sunrise together is not remotely film noir ..for the real stuff, watch "Out of the Past", "The Killers", "Double Indemnity" or the "Asphalt Jungle" ..
Although slightly "Hollywooded", the film is amazingly historically accurate many of the actual characters in the film were consultants on the production .it is also of note that from the cast; Eddie Albert, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Rod Steiger, Edmond O'Brien, Richard Todd, Tom Tryon and even Darryl F. Zanuck served in their countries' armed forces during this war go to http://www.palletmastersworkshop.com/flipside.html for more on that.....
I have watched it a dozen times or more ..don't watch it on TV, go rent (or better, buy) the widescreen version ..it has some of the most spectacular B&W action cinematography ever shot ..of special note are the scenes of the paratroopers overshooting their drop and landing in the middle of Ste-Mère-Église, the battle as the French Forces attempt to take Ouistreham and almost all of the beach assault scenes ..many of the indoor scenes are exceptionally shot as well ..
The film is riddled with dozens of emotionally moving and triumphant scenes ..the acting (and direction) are surprisingly good ..all the characters speak in their own languages with subtitles I especially enjoyed John Wayne (as Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort), Robert Mitchum (as Brig. Gen. Norman Cota), Curt Jürgens (as Maj. Gen. Gunther Blumentritt), Hans Christian Blech (as Maj. Werner Pluskat) and Irina Demich (as Janine Boitard), the only "eye candy" in the movie; in their roles ..there is also the occasional tension-breaking humorous scene or dialogue (comic relief) that really adds to the overall entertainment watch for when the nuns show up during the battle in Ouistreham, when the padre loses his communion set, when the French citizen pulls out his flag and starts celebrating as the shelling begins, and most of Red Buttons' scenes If you appreciate history, if you appreciate great films, if you like war movies, if you like great actors and great acting, if you like great cinematography: watch and enjoy ..