The Longest Day (1962)

The Longest Day
Directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton and Bernhard Wicki
Written by Cornelius Ryan et al from Ryan’s book
Darryl F. Zanuck Production/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
First viewing/Netflix Instant

Brigadier General Norman Cota: I don’t have to tell you the story. You all know it. Only two kinds of people are gonna stay on this beach: those that are already dead and those that are gonna die. Now get off your butts. You guys are the Fighting 29th.

Yet another 1962 movie for my “Ten Favorite New-to-Me Films of 2017” list!

The film tells the story of D-Day June 6, 1944 and the hours before the invasion of Occupied France by Allied forces.  Small personal stories and grand Cinemascope action scenes are combined.

We get the perspective of American, British, Free French, and German officers and soldiers.  There is a cast of thousands.  Prominent among them are Robert Mitchum, Eddie Albert, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Jeffrey Hunter, Richard Burton, Red Buttons and Robert Ryan – many of these actors appear only in cameos.  Many French, German and British stars are also featured.

I don’t know how I avoided this one for so long – maybe it was the three hours length. Neither my husband nor I were bored for one second.  I absolutely loved it.  Some of the combat scenes are breathtaking.  One of my favorites is of the two remaining Luftwaffe planes strafing a beach which utilizes every bit of Cinemascope’s potential.  And Robert Mitchum saves the day!  What could be better.

My only niggle is that a lot of exposition is rather clumsily inserted into the dialogue.  On the other hand I can’t really think of a better way of telling the necessary history lesson. Highly recommended.

WARNING:  This film is famous for being the first in which various actors speak their own languages.  Subtitles were used for portions where the dialogue was not in the language of the country where it was shown.  An English-only version was also made.  It is the English-only version that is shown on Netflix Instant.  That said, I don’t know that it marred my enjoyment much.

The Longest Day won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and Best Effects, Special Effects.  It was nominated in the categories of Best Picture; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and White; and Best Film Editing.


2 thoughts on “The Longest Day (1962)

  1. It was a great boon to watch it with original language. It adds miles to the credibility to the story.
    I cannot help to think that Zanuck bit too big an apple. This is almost too big a story to cover, but what it does, it does well.
    It was abit annoying to watch the extra material and hear again and again how this was the most important battle ever, the most deciding battle for civilization. I could rattle off a few that historically had larger implications (Thermopylae to name one), but also during the war there were battles and event or more consequence. I have never seen a movie about the battle of Kursk and the Korsun pocket in which the German army got destroyed four months before D-Day is hardly mentioned anywhere. Still I do understand why the invasion is a spectacular event and even if it did not win the war, it did save us in little Denmark from the Russians.
    On the west coast of Denmark you can still see the bunkers from the war and I sometimes think how it would have been if the invasion had taken place there. Watching this movie I shudder at the thought. Total devastation.

    • Nest time I will do everything possible to see the original language! I loved it anyway. Of course, importance is judged from the point of view of the US – something that happens all too frequently here. But we’re really nice people and can’t help it somehow.

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