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The last good WW2 film made by people "who were there"
Buck_Thruster12 April 2004
This is perhaps one of the most ambitious, epic WW2 films to have been made; certainly it is the last of the classic B&W films made about the subject. Featuring an all-star cast (John Wayne, Richard Burton, Kurt Jurgens... even a cameo by Sean Connery!), it comprehensively details the build-up and execution of the Normandy landings in 1944, taking care to show how the event was perceived by Allied and Axis soldiers and commanders, as well as the Free French resistance. This is a film that takes great care in documenting the events of the day, without lapsing into sickly sentimentalism or getting distracted with fictional characters' personal lives (a failing of many WW2 movies since about 1970), or over-emphasising any one nation's importance in the operation (although, admittedly, Canadians may feel a little short-changed).

Classic moments abound, notably the landing at St.Mere-Eglise and the soldier who gets caught in the church steeple, the frustrations of the front-line German commanders and fighters, and the numerous cameos for film nerds to keep track of.

If you want a wartime romance, or an appearance by Matt Damon or Ben Affleck, or long, loving shots of the Stars & Stripes in slo-mo, or a gritty blood'n'guts fest, you'll be disappointed. This film has broader concerns, and was made with much more thoroughness. There is no agenda at work here, pro-war or anti-. It is solely concerned with documenting Operation "Overlord" for the film-going public, and succeeds brilliantly; a shame then, that it has not made the top 50 war films list.

A must-see for any fan of war films.
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Spectacular recounting about the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944, based on Cornelius Ryan novel
ma-cortes21 December 2007
This an important, interesting movie depicting the Overlord operation with monumental logistics and means of effecting the Normandy landing, the most difficult campaign of war. The picture brings to life the famous images of WWII and splendidly the most sensational military operation of the history in an Allied hard-fought effort. The film develops the previous days to the D-Day invasion ,such as the landings and the advance over France. The film is magnificently produced with big budget by the great 20th century Fox producer Darryl F Zanuck. Evocative cinematography by Jean Bourgoun and catching song by Paul Anka with musical score by Maurice Jarre. Excellent casting by plethora stars. Special mention to John Wayne as Lt. Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort , he's top-notch as tough,valiant officer in this believable war film and terrific acting by Richard Todd as Major commanding Us paratroopers dropped to protect the flanks of the invasion and taking strategic bridge. Furthermore known Generals and officers played by prestigious players, as Germans: General Gunther(Curt Jurgens),Field Marshal Erwin Rommel(Hinz), Field Marshal Von Rundstedt(Paul Hartmann), and Allied : Brig. General Theodore Roosevelt Jr(Henry Fonda),Brig. General Norman Cota(Robert Mitchum), General Haines(Mel Ferrer), Brig. General James Gavin(Robert Ryan), General Raymond Barton(Edmond O'Brien), Lt General OMar N Bradley(Stuart), General Bernard L Montgomery(T. Reid) and General Dwight D Eisenhower played by Henry Grace. Grace was a famed set designer , while he worked extensively for many films ,his only appearance was an uncredited performance as Eisenhower ; despite not being an actor , he was cast for his uncanny resemblance to the General. This famous event from how was orchestrated the dangerous,risky landings maneuvers is professionally directed by trio of directors, Ken Annakin, Bernhard Wicki and Andrew Marton.

Adding more details along with the well developed on the movie, the events were happened of the following manner : Shortly after midnight on June 6, about 23.500 US and British paratroopers landed along the edges of the landing beaches. Their mission was to seize vital bridges and communications centers. They also had to hold off any Germans counterattacks until they were relieved by the amphibious forces. The Airbone landings were largely successful. Some US troops missed their target and end up scattered over the countryside. The main amphibious landings took place after an artillery bombardment from some 200 Allied warships at German positions also came under attack from Allied medium and heavy bombers. They were part of the 11,500 aircraft committed to D-Day. They bombed the Germans on and behind the five landing beaches. US troops landed on Utah beach. Strong currents and inaccurate navigation meant that they were a little away from their precise target. They landed about 1 mile(1,6 km) south. The beach there was relatively undefended. The troops soon knocked out the only concrete gun position guarding the beach.Demolitions teams cleared paths through the obstacles the beach and the first tanks crossed the Atlantic Wall. They fanned out into the countryside to link up with the paratroopers. By nightfall of D-Day some 23,000 men and 1,700 vehicles had gone ashore. The beach had been highly congested for much of the day. Utah was a triumph ,however Omaha beach was nearly a disaster, the fight was the most difficult. The Us troops were unable to get off the beach to make room for later waves of invaders. There were better defenses there than on the other beaches, and the German defenders were positioned on high ground, from where they could pour fire down on the attackers.The allies also made mistakes. The naval bombardment ended too soon, and the bombers missed their targets and launched landing crafts and amphibious tanks too far out from the beach, may were sunk. When the first assault wave landed ,it faced a bar-rage of fire , some men were thinking of evacuation. However small groups began to make it off the beach to the high ground beyond. By dusk, some men were ashore, most were still crowed on the beach. The high ground beyond was only thinly held by exhausted survivors waves. Some 2300 US troops had been killed in the landings. The operation had come close to disaster. The three Anglo-Canadian beaches-Gold, Sword and Juno stretched fore some 25 miles. They were wide and open and ideal for amphibious landings. The British on Gold and Sword quickly crashed though the Atlantic wall. Their success was due partly to a range of specially developed armored vehicles known as Funnies. The Canadians at Juno had a tougher time. They faced rough seas and alert defenders .By late morning ,they were also pushing inland. Despite the horror of beaches , overall Allied losses were far lower than expected. Some 6000 US personnel were killed, wounded, or missing, along with 4300 British and Canadian troops. German losses totaled between 4000 and 8000. By the day's end ,some 128000 Allied soldiers were ashore and many more were on their way.
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An absolutely remarkable film...
Nazi_Fighter_David1 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
'The Longest Day' is June 6, 1944, the day the Allied assault on Hitler's Fortress Europe... And when it came everything went much according to plan... But fighting through the tough country of Normandy took much longer than had been expected...

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the four-star Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, made up the force of some two million men massed in England for the strike at Europe...

Combined American, British, Irish and Canadian forces assault the beaches of Normandy in an effort to gain a foothold on the continent... From the viewpoint of the Americans and Germans involved, the story unfolds through numerous episodes highlighting the 'Longest Day.' We see the commands posts occupied by the Germans; Caen, the starting point; the French underground network; Omaha Beach; Utah Beach; Ste-Mère-Église; as well as sites and camps in England...

The film is a clear examination of D-Day looked at from almost every viewpoint, particularly from that of the Germans who are overwhelmed by the forces brought against them... It is in fact Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (profiled against the French beach thoroughly planted with mined obstacles) who looks out to where the invasion fleet will appear later-or sooner, and gives the film its title: "The first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive... For the Allies as well as the Germans, it will be the longest day."

In the first half, much attention is focused on the weather, as the troops... American, British, Irish, Canadian and French are poised on board their boats and ships, waiting for the rain to stop... In the key scene when Gen. Eisenhower (David Grace), makes the decision to go ahead with the invasion on June 6, more than 5,000 ships moved to assigned positions... The importance of time is emphasized by increasing the ticking of a clock... On the other side of the channel, the German generals, who know the invasion is imminent, see the same nasty weather and decide to take some time off for war games...

French Resistance fighters receive their coded instructions from BBC radio and increase their sabotage activities... Much of the early going is also devoted to some of the Allies' more unorthodox ideas, the kinds of things that make more sense cinematic ally than militarily: the use of metal clickers by paratroopers for identification, and parachuting mechanical dummies loaded with firecrackers behind German lines to create confusion...

The film reaches its peak when the two sides in the battle are finally engaged...

The first assault wave hit the Normandy beaches at 6:30 A.M. on June 6... The soil of France looked sordid and uninviting... Planning has been as complete as possible, but in the vast confusion of invasion under enemy fire, so many men fell uselessly when they left their landing craft, and stepped into water... Others fell into underwater shell craters and drowned...

The Allied air bombing that was to have knocked out German beach defense guns had not been accurate, especially on Omaha Beach where the bombs had been laid down too far inland to do much good... As a result, the gunfire that met American troops there was more murderous than anything they had been prepared for..

Today it is difficult to watch the invasion scenes and not compare them to the opening of Steven Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan,' but that really is unfair... Zanuck manages to display the image of thousands of young soldiers who were killed fighting to liberate France...

A long aerial shot from the point of view of a German pilot Josef 'Pips' Priller (Heinz Reincke) strafing Normandy Beach reveals a shore-line of successive waves of men running for their lives trying to secure Omaha Beach... This awful waste and destruction of war: scores of trucks and boats hit by shells, or sunk by mines with their crew lost... Trucks overturned and swamped, partly sunken barges, and many jeeps half submerged...

Field Marshal Rommel set to work to do everything possible to make the beaches if not impregnable, very uninviting indeed... 'The war will be won or lost on the beaches,' he states... The German command was slow to react to the invasion... They had been misled by the weather and the Allied deception plan that Normandy was a diversion and the main landing would be at Pas-de-Calais...

Shot in CinemaScope and in black-and-white, 'The Longest Day' captures the history of the moment... The film tracks the book very closely, shifting the viewpoints from German to French to American to British throughout... In three hours Zanuck and his staff expand on the scope of one day, to tell mostly everything, with an exceptionally strong cast playing cameo roles... The cast could not be better, in spite of the brevity of their roles:

  • Bourvil is the French Mayor of Colleville who welcomes the British soldiers with a bottle of champagne...

  • Irina Demick is Janine Boitard, the sexy good-looking Resistance member...

  • Henry Fonda is Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the Brigadier General who limps ashore with the first of the assault boats landing on Utah Beach...

  • Christian Marquand is Philippe Kieffer, the French Commander in desperate situation in Ouistreham...

  • Robert Mitchum is Norman Cota, the Brigadier general who chops on his cold cigar, and walks along the beach and rallies his men... Mitchum gets some great lines and delivers them with the right amount of idealism and cynicism...

  • Richard Todd is John Howard, the major who lands by glider at Bénouville to capture the canal bridge over the Orne River...

All the characters speak in their own languages... The motion picture is Winner of two Academy Awards for Cinematography and Special Effects, Zanuck's 'The Longest Day' is one without doubt an absolutely remarkable film, one of the most impressive and most authentic documentation of war ever put on film...
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Candian Presence in The Longest Day
tggilchrist3 September 2011
The previous comments about Canadian participation in the Normandy invasion were significant - insofar as there weren't very many. One of the five Normandy beaches was Canadian (Juno), but there is almost no mention of this in The Longest Day, and I'm sure that one would be hard pressed to find many Americans (and not a whole lot more Canadians) who know this. Unfortunately, it is movies such as this and other popular media that shape the historic knowledge of people on both sides of the border. In the near absence of Canadian content, I find it ironic that a young Canadian (Paul Anka) not only played a part in the movie as an American soldier, but also wrote the theme music. I find it also ironic that the legendary rifle used by US soldiers during WW2 and shown in this movie was designed by a Canadian as well (Garand is a French Canadian name). The cruelest irony, of course, is the fact that thousands of Canadian soldiers were maimed or lost there lives on 6 June 1944 and the days thereafter, with virtually no acknowledgement in this movie. I have always enjoyed watching this movie, but it is unfortunate that I must use my imagination to see in it the heroic and selfless wartime effort of my father's generation, in similar fashion to viewers in the US and UK.
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One of the Greatest War Films Ever Bar None!!!
sawyertom16 March 2003
The Longest Day is one of the greatest war films ever. Bar none. The acting, the cinematography, the storline and the acuraccy are great. if any of you fans watch AMC watch the Backstory behind this movie. It's amazing that it was even made. This is Zanuck's greatest work. The perspective from the different combatants regardless of their rank is great. Like somebody else said it did not portray the Germans as cartoonish evil doers. It gave a good honest portrayal that I wish more war movies would have. As a history buff I love to see movies from other countries soldier perspectives. This captures it better than every other war movie. The only one that comes close is Tora, Tora, Tora. There is one drawback however and that is the rangers at Pointe De Hoc. They did find the big guns but,they were further inland and later destroyed before they could be used. Zanuck used this to show the futility and waste of war. Other than that is a classic with very few flaws. The comparison between SPR and TLD are well like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, SPR has gritty realism that stuns you, but like another reviewer said, this was 1962 and the movie was about the entire scope of the battle. It was not meant to be up close and personal like SPR. Many of us appreciate movies from different perspctives. This is not a movie you should not rent. You should own it as part of your video collection. This movie may appear to be pro-war and patriotic, but Zanuck himself said he wanted to make an anti-war film. I think he did so magnificantly. He captured the essence of the book where Cornelius Ryan said he wrote about the men,not the battles. That is why Zanucks film is so successful. He captured the men and their feelings, whether they were American, British,German's or French and what they were feeling going into one WW2's most decisive battle. This is a Four Star Classic!!!!
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Classic WWII Film!!
mrcaw127 April 2004
The Longest Day (1962) - CO-Directors: Ken Annakin & Andrew Morton Everyone knows this was producer Darryl F. Zanuck's baby and it earns its place in cinema history as one of those epic style movies that treats its subject matter with the most serious of attitudes. Obviously a war is no laughing matter but, for better or worse, movies tend to simplify logistics while highlighting emotional chords, such as bravery and homemade apple pie. Zanuck, however, wanted the audience to understand the scope and grandeur of an enterprise like D-Day.

Utilizing a cast of thousands, half of which seemed to be cameo appearances by major stars of the day, Zanuck presents on wide screen all the action and turmoil that surrounded this turning point of WW II. The ever-fighting Republican John Wayne is there, along with Democrat Henry Fonda, tough guy Bob Mitchum, brooding Richard Burton, sexy Sean Connery and pit bullish Rod Steiger. Still for my money, one of the best landing on the beach scenes ever filmed. Sorry Mr.Spielberg. (B&W)
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Still a classic after 42 years!
phantomsteve_2 May 2004
Invariably compared with "Saving Private Ryan" (SPR), this scores over the more modern work because of the focus on all the major sides of the action (British, American, French and German).

All languages are used (with subtitles as appropriate - eg the Germans speak in German, etc).

While true that the battle scenes are not gory as SPR's, and that the sounds of battle are muted during the dialog (unlike SPR's), it should be borne in mind that in '62, the audience rating of the time *was* a General Release ("G" in the US, "A" in the UK (I'm guessing for the UK, but it is now PG)) - which more detail would not have allowed.

I think part of the purpose of this film is to allow *everyone* to see what happened 18 years before!
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Shaving Ryan's Privates
giorgiosurbani26 November 2007
True, the first half an hour of Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" is truly mesmerizing but then it degenerates into a soap opera of sorts and all the angst and horror of war evaporates until the truly sentimental finale. "The Longest Day" doesn't depend on special effects but on the minute by minute horror of its moment. It's also, if I'm permitted to say it, a lot of fun to watch. Strangely enough the all star cast is not distracting at all. It was much more in "Saving Private Ryan" with a cast of up and comings headed by Tom Hanks himself. In "The Longest Day" there are real moments, film, cinematic moments that are intimately connected with the profoundest sense of drama: The clicking of the rifle. Richard Burton, Richard Beymer and the boots of the dead German. Red Buttons hanging from the Cathedral. Paul Anka, Fabian, Robert Wagner, the landing in Normandy. This film remains one of the best, from every angle, films of its kind.
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An Unforgettable Overview of an Epic Battle!
cariart9 August 2003
'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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"Gentlemen, We Start the War from Right Here."
bkoganbing7 August 2006
Simply put if things had gone differently on June 6, 1944 we would be living in a very different and very much uglier world than we have now. The Longest Day is Darryl F. Zanuck's tribute to all who were involved in Allied invasion at Normandy.

Even viewing it now as opposed to the theaters back then back then I am staggered at Zanuck's incredible eye and grasp for the detail of the Normandy invasion. He did the smart thing and not only bought Cornelius Ryan's standard account of D-Day, but got Ryan to write a very coherent screenplay. Even one who has absolutely no grasp of military history will be able to follow exactly what was going on.

Several of the people who are portrayed in the film also served as technical advisers of it. When you Peter Lawford as Lord Lovat or Robert Ryan as General James Gavin and many others these people aided in recreating the project.

Zanuck may have had the largest movie set in history to work with, at least up to that time. You are seeing the film photographed in the places it actually happened. The beaches, the towns of St. Mere Eglise and Ouisterham, even the embarkation areas in the UK. I doubt you could do The Longest Day today because of the changes in all these places now. Lots of cooperation from the British and French governments was necessary.

You also couldn't do it because the budget would be the size of the U.S. national debt today. This was the last days of the all powerful studio system and even with a lot of the stars free-lancing at that point, Darryl F. Zanuck was still a most powerful man in Hollywood with a lot of favors owed. One example was Richard Burton who was shooting Cleopatra at the time The Longest Day was also shooting. For his two brief, but memorable scenes as an RAF pilot, they shot around him on Cleopatra also a 20th Century Fox production while he filmed his part for Zanuck.

Even the Germans came in for a portrait of them as human beings. Curt Jurgens as General Blumentritt, who was also a technical adviser, put it philosophically best about how after he can't convince Chief of Staff Alfred Jodl to wake up Hitler to move the Panzer Divisions, breaks open a bottle of cognac and decides to drink it before the Allies arrive.

I have several favorites in The Longest Day. Richard Todd who actually was at D-Day and was a decorated hero himself, plays commando leader, Major John Howard who is asked to paratroop into France and capture and hold a key bridge intact. Todd is channeling his own as well as Howard's war experience into the film and gives a performance of unusual depth.

Norman Rossington and a pre-James Bond Sean Connery who was just making his debut as Bond in Dr. No, give some good comic relief as a cockney and Irish soldier landing on Sword Beach. So does Kenneth More as a British beachmaster with his bulldog Winston.

The French are well represented by Arletty, Bourvil, Christian Marquand and by Irina Demich. Being that three of these play civilian roles they get the only two women's parts of any substance in The Longest Day. I do like the scene where some Germans checking Irina out in a low cut dress, fail to properly search her. Irina also demonstrates how much the women were equal partners in the Resistance. Marquand as a captain of a Free French company is involved in a particularly bloody battle for a coastal town.

Of course the American cinema is well represented. Charlton Heston was to originally play the part that John Wayne does, but he couldn't get free of some commitments of his own and when Wayne became available, Zanuck grabbed him. Heston was later quoted as saying Wayne did a better job than he would have in any event. Wayne's best scene was when he saw some American bodies dangling from roofs in St. Mere Eglise. As I've said many times, John Wayne had one of the best faces for movie closeups ever. One look at the horror expressed in his face tells you all you need to know.

Henry Fonda plays General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. who would within a month after the invasion die on Normandy Beach. Had he lived, Roosevelt might have picked up the pieces of a stalled political career. But that was not to be the case. Roosevelt was found dead of a heart attack in his tent after the invasion when the Allies were trying to break out of the beach.

The heaviest casualties on D-Day were on Omaha Beach where Robert Mitchum plays General Norman Cota a division commander. Mitchum is involved at the climax of the film where American GIS after being hung up for hours, break through and insure the invasion's success.

The Longest Day is not only great drama and a great war film, but it is as accurate a film as you will ever get depicting the Normandy invasion, good history as well.
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A splendid film by all counts.........
d_john230 July 2004
I'm old enough to have seen this epic when it was first released and, even as a nine year old, I was impressed. It was the great Daryl Zanuck's last hurrah and a fitting one (not his last film - just his last worthwhile film).

This is a great film. It's not perfect but its faults are few and minor. For me the most glaring fault is the amateurish delivery by the actor (a near ringer) portraying Ike. Also, the very beautiful actress portraying the French resistance fighter is wearing a very 1960s hairdo (a common problem with Hollywood films).

I see this film every memorial day. It helps me to remember my father, a Navy gunner's mate in the Pacific theater and my maternal grandfather, an island-hopping Sgt. in the Marine Corps. Personally, as a veteran, I find this movie as realistic as I think it was possible to be in 1961.

Is it the best American war film? No. I would place it in the top 10 alongside the following:

1. All Quiet On the Western Front (1930) 2. Platoon (1986) 3. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) 4. In Which We Serve (British - 1943) 5. Patton (1970) 6. They Were Expendable (1945) 7. Twelve O'Clock High (1949) 8. Paths of Glory (1957) 9. Grand Illusion (1940?) 10.The Longest Day (1962)
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The Cast & The Actual Event: Overwhelming Numbers
ccthemovieman-117 June 2006
This was an another one of these all-star casts that you don't see in more modern times, in which about everyone who was actor made an appearance....or it just seems that way. For those unfamiliar with this film, take a look back on the main page here and check out the famous names in this movie. Click the "more" under the cast overview and you'll see all the names. It's unbelievable. Some of them, to be fair, had very short roles in here, such as Henry Fonda, Rod Steiger and Roddy McDowell, but this is a real "Who's Who" of the acting profession in 1962. There are also a lot of German actors in here speaking German (with subtitles provided), perhaps numbering even more than the English-speaking stars. That's because the famous day of June 6, 1944, is seen from both sides of the conflict.

At three hours, it gives you plenty of D-Day World War II action. Almost two-thirds of the movie involves action from that famous invasion. In some spots, it just gets to be too much. Frankly, the whole film is too much and almost bogs down in too many areas....and it shouldn't, but it is a very technical film. And, for a film 45 years old, the action is pretty realistic. I thought the best shots were the overheads during one particular scenes when the Alies were going through a town.

I am anything but a WWII expert so how much detail of the infamous 'D-Day" here is correct, Since they went into such detail, I'll assume they were fairly accurate. I can't say but this movie educated me on the size of the task. I had no idea "D-Day" was this huge in scope: three million men and 5,000 ships??!!! Amazing.
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Almost Like Being There
loufalce13 December 2007
Quite simply the best film ever attempted on this subject. The events leading up to the D Day invasion in France are meticiously viewed from the French, British, German and American sides. The dialogue is spoken in the national languages of the countries taking part in the invasion and this aspect alone elevates it high above most other films. The superb black and white photography adds yet another layer or realism . Cast features many international stars, but never stoops to a "spot the stars" formula like too many of these films tend to do.Clichés are avoided and the people portrayed are realistically drawn. Even the Germans are presented as actual military leaders and not the stereotypical Nazi villains . There are massive invasion scenes, quieter scenes at the villages before the raid, and a commando raid on a German howitzer emplacement in the basement of a casino, a scene that follows the attacking Allied group from an ariel perspective while they move through town past the docked fishing boats and destroyed buildings. The overhead shots of the beaches with hundreds of troops, tanks and landing craft gives the viewer a very accurate picture of the massive scale of the invasion, something that Spielberg just could not pull off in "Pvt Ryan".A three hour film that is up for repeat viewings. You will discover something new each time you view it. The screenplay was by the author Cornelius Ryan from his own book.No silly romantic subplots, just the facts. I remember seeing this film after it opened with my father and uncle. It was impressive then, and it holds up beautifully today. In my humble opinion, this is the best WW11 film ever made. One of the greats.
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Not a fair comparison
windsong056 January 2007
THE LONGEST DAY is one of the if not the greatest World War II movie epics. However, it is unfair to compare it to Steven Spielberg's SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. To do so would really be comparing apples and oranges. Spielberg's movie was meant to convey the gore and horror of war and succeeded quite admirably. In THE LONGEST DAY, which was shot in semi-documentary style, Zanuck's intent was to show the monumental effort involved, on the part of the allies, in mounting a successful cross channel invasion. In that regard this film also succeeded quite admirably. It should be regarded more as a history lesson rather than as simply dramatic entertainment. The historical value of the film far outweighs any minor dramatic licenses taken by Zanuck.
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Allow Yourself A Long Day To See This All-Star War Pic...
Don-10212 April 1999
Darryl F. Zanuck's THE LONGEST DAY is indeed long, has over 48 international stars, 3 directors, and took about 2 years to make. 1962 was the year of the epic as far as the 1960's were concerned and this exceptional film is no exception. No cost was spared. Some good war sequences mixed with stock footage of WWII effectively present a version of D-Day, June of 1944. We see it from the German perspective (in sub-titles), the American plight, and the rest of the Allied forces. One problem: If you are seeing the film for the first time AFTER watching SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, you may come out disappointed. The war scenes are well-crafted, however, the piercing reality is missing. I tried to watch it as objectively as I could, but it is hard, considering the impression Spielberg's version of D-Day left on me.

The soldiers are led by a variety of huge name actors. John Wayne is a no-holds-barred Captain who will fight, broken foot or not. Henry Fonda plays Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. looking not to be treated as the son of an ex-president. Bob Mitchum is great as a cigar-smoking officer of the U.S. raid on Omaha Beach. The only problem is authenticity. The actors look good and realisticly war-like, however, they are kept in frame to showcase their talents and they never seem to be near death. This is by no means an anti-war film like RYAN. It can be harrowing at times, but watching Richard Burton, Sean Connery, and Rod Steiger deliver cameo-like performances (meaning they know they are only on-screen for a short time) was a bit contrived and distracting.

Overall, I did like the movie. It is greatly detailed and it lets you know exactly who each actor is playing. This is pure American propaganda, but it is still exciting. Too many fearful war experiences are handled with kid gloves. The grand spectacle of the top-notch production values as well as non-stop action make the picture watchable, if only once.

RATING: 7 of 10
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One of the best war masterpieces
afonsobritofalves12 September 2018
Although long (very long), it is without a doubt one of the best war films ever. Incredible special effects, fantastico plot and casting very well chosen. Without a doubt a movie that everyone should see
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A great film within its context
keith-20710 December 2002
The Longest Day works on several levels - the most obvious being the "don't blink or you might miss several" nature of the Star-Studded cast. Much of the cast works very well (Sean Connery's little comedy double act with Norman Rossington is an unexpected highlight). Some less so, and some is just downright tokenism - Rod Steiger getting all of 43 seconds on-screen for example. But overall, it's always a watchable movie - beautifully shot.

Some previous comment have surprised me, particularly the assertion that The Longest Day is, in any way, a "pro-war" film. I'm not sure if there *is* such a thing, but if there is then The LOngest Day certainly doesn't fall into this category - the scene of bewilderment between Richard Burton and Richard Beymer at the end about the confusion and directionlessness of war is the perfect example, ending with the memorable line "I wonder who won".

I'm also surprised that a European reviewer should have accused this film, of all world war II movies, of being American propoganda. I wonder how many other WWII films include both German and (almost unqiuely) French perspectives of the war to such an extent that almost half of the dialogue in them is in a language other than English. I find the German sequences in The Longest Day to be amongst the most interesting historically and dramatically.

The film is certainly as accurate as it's possible for a fictional movie to be - the list of advisors that it had working on it should prove that - including many people who are portrayed by actors in the movie itself. These include the characters played by Peter Lawford, Richard Todd and Kenneth More, along with several of the German field officers. Little touches that seem utterly out of place (like the nuns procession through the French village bringing a temporary ceasefire) are actually historically spot-on.

The final problem for the modern reviewer, of course, is the inevitable comparison between this film and Saving Private Ryan. But, as several other contributors have noted, SPR is not only the product of a different age with a different view of these events - historical as opposed to something which happened so recently that half of the audience are likely to have lived through them. But, ultimately, something usually forgotten about Operation Overlord is that Omaha Beach was merely one battle of a very long day indeed. Americans tend to focus on it because of the death toll, but the taking of Utah, Sword and Gold were just as important to the overall outcome. The Longest Day is a film about five beaches, many battles, and many men - some, as Richard Burton says, dead, some crippled and some lost. It is an anti-war film which proves that you can be anti-war and still celebrate and acknowledge heorism. The heroism of the young American and British troops, falling face-first into the salt water of the Normandy killing grounds. The incredible bravery of the Rangers who scaled the cliffs at Pointe du Luc on and, ultimately, meaningless mission. The heroism of the two Luftwaffe pilots commanded to face the invading armies alone, and who did so (another historically accurate point).

The Longest Day is a historic film about a historical event and it should be viewed as such.

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Could have been unwieldy, instead it is comprehensive
AlsExGal6 January 2019
In 1962, almost post studio system 20th Century Fox was in trouble. Almost broke because of the cost of making then in-progress Cleopatra, they were in a similar fix with filming "The Longest Day". They had been churning out a series of small films with small stars that were losers at the box office. Turn on Fox Movie Channel Retro if you want an object lesson in their sorry output during the late 50s/early 60s. Enter stage left Darryl F. Zanuck, former head of Fox studio, who had left the states in 1956 to make a series of loser films in Europe with his girlfriends who were loser actresses. He argued how he could rescue The Longest Day to the board of directors, and the job became his.

The result is a great film in the tradition of old Hollywood - Zanuck's kind of Hollywood - that entertains on a grand scale, telling the story of the Allied invasion of France with a star studded cast. The big stars of the day were all there, with special billing for John Wayne. The cast includes Eddie Albert, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Sean Connery, Red Buttons, Steve Forrest and Leo Genn. Unbelievably Sal Mineo and Roddy McDowell get into the act too. And there are many others.

There are many stories being told in many places from the viewpoints of the Allied soldiers, the Germans, and the French resistance prior to the actual invasion. We don't get to follow the stories of all of these people to the end, but each story gives us a slice of life and produces a great and compelling story of the overall invasion. You don't know who is going to get cut down suddenly, who is going to make it, and who is just going to be the victim of just plain bad luck. It is all part of the horror of war. Highly recommended. It is a long film, but it is also an engrossing one.
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A Flawed Film But A Great Tribute To Courage
Theo Robertson5 June 2004
Despite being a classic war movie THE LONGEST DAY is very flawed as a production . Did someone say there's just too many stars in this movie ? If so I agree . Look at the way they're introduced , Mister big name movie star has back to camera , he turns round and wow we're looking at a big name movie star . All this is somewhat distracting .

It should also be pointed out that many of the cast are let down by Corneilus Ryan's script . Ryan wrote the definitive account of the last year of the war via his trilogy THE LONGEST DAY , A BRIDGE TOO FAR and THE LAST BATTLE , he was a truly great historian but it's obvious he couldn't master the technicalities of screen writing , his characters are more like caricatures with the Americans all being butch and macho while the Europeans are somewhat eccentric save for a few Englishmen who have stiff upper lips . Like HG Wells with THINGS TO COME Ryan writes dialogue that sounds suspiciously like thought processes , an example being where the rangers fight their way into a bunker only to find it's a decoy and someone says " You mean we came all the way up here for nothing ? " . You can almost imagine the passage in the book saying " it was obvious to the men who had survived the battle , so obvious that no one dare say it but they'd fought their way to the bunker for nothing "

Despite that I will congratulate Ryan and everyone else involved in the production for pointing out that the 6th of June was a multi national effort to free Western Europe from the Nazi jackboot , Brits , Yanks and the Free French are represented ( Not sure about the Canadians but ? ) unlike the rather overrated SAVING PRIVATE RYAN that seems to indicate that D Day was an American solo effort THE LONGEST DAY is far more accurate and subjective as to what happened on the day . The script also has the temerity to suggest that the allies didn't win the battle but the Nazis lost due to the military incompetence of Hitler . It should be remembered that despite the overwhelming fire power of the allies they could have easily have been massacred on the beaches and that the Normandy landings was probably the most complicated military endeavor in all of military history

A word of warning - If you ever watch this movie only see the widescreen version because the technical aspects are awesome . The outstanding scene is where a few Americans sit on a bunk playing cards and one of them stands up pleading " Hey guys , anyone got five bucks , ten bucks , anyone got twenty bucks " . At this point the camera quickly pans out and the sound crashes in making the audience realize that the scene is set in a billets with hundreds of soldiers . Needless to say this scene is totally ruined when it's watched on a scanned copy

THE LONGEST DAY is a flawed film but a great tribute to the men who fought in that campaign . As the veterans who fought there gather tomorrow for the 60th anniversary along with politicians who didn't have the guts to join the military but are very happy to use it for political gain I'd just like to say a big thank you to all the men who fought there . Thank you to one and all . If it weren't for you I wouldn't be here now
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Bonjour, mademoiselle. Je suis américain.
lastliberal28 August 2007
One of the best films of 1962 and one of the best war films ever, The Longest Day features outstanding cinematography, special effects and art work. You really felt that you were present in the time leading up to June 6, 1944, when Allied forces made the incredible landing on the beaches of Normandy.

Like me, I am sure many people reading this had family members that were involved (me - a Candian brother-in-law) in this massive undertaking. To see the story from the standpoint of the men involved was a tremendous experience.

Yes, I've seen Saving Private Ryan, and the incredible carnage in the first 20 minutes, but I was just as moved by the same footage in this film without the blood. You felt the frustration of the men and the determination to succeed. Their pent-up emotions after an interminable wait to begin were unleashed on the unprepared Germans. The jubilation of the French citizens displayed gave us a real example of a country waiting to be liberated. (Maybe Bush should watch this to see how it really is when people welcome your invasion.) Robert Mitchum led an all-star cast that must have included every major actor in Hollywood at the time. If you can't find a favorite, then you are just not looking hard enough.

A superb war film.
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Defining the modern-day military epic...
tigerman20015 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
**Possible spoilers ahead, though we all know how the story eventually ends (having read the book)…WWII, that is.**

Those who dismiss this film in the wake of "Saving Private Ryan" are missing the point. Yes, "Ryan" was a powerful piece of film- making, but "The Longest Day" has a far more epic scope and concerns itself with providing a more complete picture by telling the stories surrounding D-Day from the perspective of British and American troops, French troops, German troops, and French resistance fighters and civilians. Continual involvement of the higher command officers, particularly among the Germans, helps give the viewer a sense of the 'big picture' that was probably unknown to most on the ground involved in fighting.

This blending of the strategic picture and vignettes from individual soldiers -- many of them underscoring alternately the horror, the futility, and the absurdness of war -- was a prominent feature of Cornelius Ryan's book upon which his screenplay is based. The same is true of the 1977 classic, "A Bridge Too Far." And, yes, those more quirky scenes depicted in the film did apparently happen in real life, truth being far stranger than fiction could ever hope to be and war being sprinkled with absurdities of all flavors.

Attesting to the veracity of this film is not only the fact that Ryan was responsible for its screenplay but that among the military advisors were a host of generals and other officers from German and Allied forces, most of them depicted in the film. And some of those depictions were spot-on, in that the actors chosen naturally looked like or made themselves look like the historical figures (for example, the fellow who played Eisenhower looked more like the Allied commander than Ike himself did!). The core story of "Private Ryan" is fiction; the totality of "The Longest Day" is fact.

Another difference between the two films is that many of the battle scenes in the 1962 movie were dominated by long-shots whereas the newer movie kept things tight and far more up close and personal. This difference reflects the difference in the films' scopes: big-picture versus small; divisional action and objectives versus platoon-based action and objectives. On the subject of long shots, some of the sweeping tracking shots (especially of the French commando raid, but also of the assault on Omaha Beach and in a few other scenes) in this film were pretty incredible.

"The Longest Day" shares another essential similarity with the later "A Bridge Too Far" in that both feature the proverbial 'all-star cast.' I'm not sure that similar assemblages of talent and 'big names' have been cast for the same project since "A Bridge Too Far." Although it can be a tad disconcerting to see a famous actor occupy a tiny chunk of screen time, apparently underutilized, the approach does get across the idea of the sum being greater than any of the parts.

As for charges that "The Longest Day" was a pro-war film…I don't know where that comes from. And that's even WITH John Wayne being among the cast! The fact is that camaraderie and certain positive aspects of human character become magnified during war just as the more negative aspects do, and elation over triumphing over adversity is not something that should surprise viewers who might wonder why some of the soldiers appear happy at times. Also, bear in mind that many of the troops were relatively inexperienced in battle and that they were embarked upon the 'greatest adventure of them all,' finally delivering the enslaved nations of Europe from the grasp of tyranny (etc, etc).

Heroism is real, too, no matter what motivates it. Moreover, the inherent waste and tragedy of war was -- despite relying less on overt gore than is now the custom -- a current that ran through the entire film, perhaps being most obvious in such scenes as those concerned with the accidental dropping of members of the 82nd Airborne Division in Sainte Mere-Eglise and the US Rangers' incredible (and ultimately pointless) scaling of the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc. I was surprised, when I saw "Private Ryan," that Steven Spielberg had included a scene that showed American soldiers killing prisoners. I'd forgotten that a similar incident was included in "The Longest Day" (the GI responsible mused about what "bitte, bitte" meant, but surely he knew what arms raised in surrender meant). It's to the film-makers' credit that the German cast are (in addition to being allowed to speak German) portrayed as real human beings, with emotions, concerns, and real problems with those who command them.

In summary, this film is far from supplanted by "Saving Private Ryan." The Spielberg film is an incredible one, and worthy of the accolades accorded it, but its existence does not relegate "The Longest Day" to the scrap heap. The two films complement one another and together provide a remarkably full picture of what happened in Normandy almost 60 years ago.
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"Wounds my heart with a monotonous languor"
KEVMC12 February 2003
June 6th,1944. The Allied invasion of northern Europe begins along the Normandy coastline. In the early hours of the morning thousands of British and American paratroopers are dropped inland to secure strategic objectives, to be followed at dawn by the main assault force consisting of Americans (Utah and Omaha beaches), British (Gold and Sword beaches), Canadians (Juno beach) and French (attached to the British at Sword). By nightfall it is hoped that the troops will be moving off the beaches and linking up with the Airborne forces inland.

This multi-faceted account of the D-Day landings was a mammoth undertaking in its day. Adapted for the screen by Cornelius Ryan from his book of the same name, it is a very detailed look at the events of that momentous day in history. Every angle is covered, from the commanders, planners and soldiers to the French underground, civilians and the German defenders. The cast list reads like a who's who of international cinema at the time, to the point where this can detract from the drama of the events at times. Nevertheless, the sheer scale of the production is staggering in its scope, most of it filmed on the actual battle sites where possible. In terms of cost, this would surely be impossible to film these days.

There are a couple of drawbacks, however. Some of the dialogue leans toward the corny at times, especially by todays standards. Also, since the release of 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Band Of Brothers' the landings on Omaha beach and the parachute drop sequences look tame and rather antiseptic. This isn't a criticism of the production, so much as a comment on how the film is starting to show its age.

On the plus side there are some very well executed sequences. The scaling of the cliffs at Point du Hoc by the US Rangers is one, and the storming of the town of Ouistreham by French commandos is another. This is probably the most breathtaking scene in the entire film, as an airborne camera tracks the commandos through the streets and ends up circling a German machine gun nest on top of the casino building.

The film needs to be viewed in its original widescreen aspect ratio to fully appreciate its epic scale. The DVD print is a beautifully clean transfer in the original black & white. I, and I suspect many others, got quite a shock a couple of years back when I tuned in to watch it on TV, to find it has been digitally colourised. In truth this version looks quite good, but it's not available on DVD.

Despite showing its age a little, 'The Longest Day' remains one of the great World War Two films, and is still the definitive cinematic account of D-Day.
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Thank God for the atom bomb
carsondlx23 November 2018
Biggest takeaway from this mammoth all-star war movie about d-day is that the boys playing with their toys were just having so much fun. The absolute scale and seriousness of the game they were playing only emphasized the complete, male testosterone driven idiocy of the whole thing. I thought, when it was over, thank god for Einstein, thank god for Fermi and the Manhattan project, thank god for nuclear weapons which bring the masters of war directly into the line of fire. Hopefully no one is so crazy as to commit suicide (and racial suicide) by starting another world war. Because there can never be a WWIV -- WWIII will, if it happens, be the very last world war.

Actually 'The Longest Day' is a terrific flick. The Germans, other than hitler, are treated with respect. As honorable, worthy adversaries. No one is inherently evil or good. The multiple storylines flow smoothly. The action is intense and realistic without being unnecessarily drenched in blood and exploding body parts like a more modern movie would feel compelled to be.
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An editing masterpiece, an epic day, lots of great filming, but also diffused and imperfect
secondtake12 November 2012
The Longest Day (1962)

This is an ambitious movie, extremely well photographed, filled with stars and secondary actors of fame and talent. And it covers roughly at 24 hour period leading up to and into the epic and dramatic June 6, 1944 invasion of German-held France known as D-Day.

On all these levels, the movie almost has to succeed. And it does. It's a popularizing account of an important event. It's history made simple, for sure, but it compresses the complexity with good intentions, and with some fair handling of both the German and non-German sides of the battles, inside and war rooms and on the beach.

The movie is filled, however, with so many characters (maybe fifty who are given enough camera time to take on some small meaning, though the poster advertises "42 International Stars") and shot in so many locations (Germany, France, London, on boats, on beaches, in villas, by the bridge, in the bunker, in the strategic commands, along the roads, flying overhead, on and on) it is truly impossible to engage in any one part of it fully. Many scenes are superb, even short ones, sometimes with great actors like Robert Ryan playing with a light on his face (in a comic scary way) and sometimes with unknowns who for a moment shine in their terror. But it's necessarily fragmented and dispersed.

There are, furthermore, attempts at humor that are a welcome break to the seriousness but are sometimes too silly and improbable to really make sense. It's like the humor that perks up little moments in a Chris Nolan Batman movie--except this is real life, this is the real D-Day and not an entertainment. You don't expect a documentary, exactly, but the levity--even if as cute as a young Sean Connery goofing on the beach as bullets fly around--is a bit off target.

The fact that this kind of movie works this well is probably amazing. It even got divided between different directors, and so the unifying qualities show a kind of logistical planning that paid off. (There are only two cinematographers and, crucially, one editor.) And of course there is history holding it together.

And this is a history that is getting lost. Fans of WWII movies (or of WWII history) will have no trouble feeling the grand, world-changing nature of D-Day. I grew up on American movies and around my parents and grandparents who had strong feelings about the war and about D-Day in particular. But young people, like the students in my classes at college, often born fifty years after the fact, have sometimes not even heard of D-Day. Many don't know a Nazi from RAF officer, even in concept. (I'm not kidding. I ask, routinely.) This is just life. Blame education if you want, but it's a natural movement forward to more recent and still living world events. We had D-Day, they have 9-11.

I watched the movie with my girlfriend who is not from the States, and who knew only the outline of the war. (Her country wasn't involved in it enough to make a dent on its own history.) And so she watched with a kind of dulled boredom. The cameos by famous people were fun for both of us, and filming was to be appreciated, but the drama I felt even with the opening credits I saw was dependent on knowing the larger scope.

And so this movie will have a shrinking audience and shrinking appreciation over time. It's a long watch--three hours--and it has a steady stream of great moments. But it's not a great movie in movie-making terms. Exciting and important and with a wikipedia page to make this all clear, but it's unlikely to fully integrate and take total form as a whole.
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Pours defecation all over Spielberg's bespectacled face
pdobson-127 August 2006
Of all war films this is perhaps one if not the best of its kind. The scale of the project, the actors, and the general depiction of the different countries and people involved make this a 'sure fire' winner. The film in comparison to say Saving Private Ryan is not a single layered narrative, unnecessarily emotional or utterly ignorant that other countries other than America actually participated, it even notes that Britain were in the war before America!!!! Perhaps this film does not have the special effects that Private Ryan does have (to its credit)but this aside it certainly makes up for it in every other area. The sheer fact that this was the most expensive black and white movie until Schindler's list is testament to that. The advisers on this film were actually there and helped draw the plans themselves, yes it is a drama, but when considering history please don't disregard fact for the want of a better plot (Spielberg) If you like war movies then this is the king of the genre, if you have never seen a war movies or dislike them, this may just about change your mind. All I will say is that "this is Rupert, and he is a diversion". God Save the King etc. Knocking on the door of 10 out of 10.
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