In 1944, the U.S. Army and Allied forces plan a huge invasion landing in Normandy, France. Despite bad weather, General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the okay and the Allies land at Normandy. General Norma Cota travels with his men onto Omaha Beach. With much effort, and lost life, they get off the beach, traveling deep into French territory. The German military, due to arrogance, ignorance and a sleeping Adolf Hitler, delay their response to the Allied landing, with crippling results.Written by
Although the end credits begin with the phrase "in alphabetical order", John Wayne is listed last even though he is not last alphabetically (although he was "nearly" last). See more »
Some video copies omit Jeffrey Hunter's "dear John discussion" with a fellow soldier abourd a troop transport. Jean Servais' part as a French admiral giving a speech about firing upon one's homeland was cut out too. See more »
'The Longest Day' is perhaps the greatest dramatic record of one of the defining moments in world history. After the intimacy of 'Saving Private Ryan', many critics have accused it of being a 'sanitized' version of the Normandy Invasion, but it is a different kind of film, entirely! While Steven Speilberg's aim was to personalize the horror facing the first wave of troops to hit the beach, Producer Darryl F. Zanuck, a D-Day vet, himself, wanted to create a mosaic of the myriad of personalities, events, and experiences that shaped the day. It is a film that looks objectively at all the forces who fought this epic battle, wisely casting major stars of each country to portray actual and fictitious characters. This was a bold move at the time, as subtitles are used extensively, giving the film has a uniquely international flavor. This is not your usual war film with 'American actors doing funny accents'!
There are many standout performances; a few that deserve particular recognition are Richard Burton's war-weary RAF pilot, the last survivor of his original squadron; Dietmar Schönherr as one of the few remaining Luftwaffe pilots, faced with the impossible order of stopping the invasion with two airplanes; Jeffrey Hunter, a young sergeant who is 'Dear John'ed and faces the horrendous Omaha landing; a pre-James Bond Sean Connery as a cocky Irish infantryman; Red Buttons, as a paratrooper whose chute snags on a church tower, and is forced to view the carnage as Germans annihilate jumpers dropping into a French town square; and John Wayne (himself a war film icon), as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort, the Airborne commander, who impatiently waits for the 'Go' order, then breaks his ankle jumping into Normandy.
Filled with drama, humor, and pathos, 'The Longest Day' works on many levels, and is never dull! Over forty years after its initial release, it's semi-documentary style still seems as fresh and engrossing as ever, and works equally well viewed by itself, or paired with 'Saving Private Ryan'.
It should be an essential part of your film library!
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