The Longest Day (1962)

Directed by
Cinematography

The Longest Day is a 1962 epic war film based on Cornelius Ryan‘s book The Longest Day (1959), about the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944, during World War II. The film was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, who paid author Ryan $175,000 for the film rights.The screenplay was by Ryan, with additional material written by Romain Gary, James Jones, David Pursall and Jack Seddon. It was directed by Ken Annakin (British and French exteriors), Andrew Marton (American exteriors), and Bernhard Wicki (German scenes).

mv5byziyotu5zjatzdizoc00ngnklwjimmity2jkngrkotllntrmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntayndq2nji-_v1_

The Longest Day, which was made in black and white, features a large ensemble cast including John Wayne, Kenneth More, Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Steve Forrest, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Rod Steiger, Leo Genn, Gert Fröbe, Irina Demick, Bourvil, Curt Jürgens, George Segal, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka and Arletty. Many of these actors played roles that were essentially cameo appearances. In addition, several cast members – including Fonda, Genn, More, Steiger and Todd – saw action as servicemen during the war, with Todd actually being among the first British officers to land in Normandy in Operation Overlord and he in fact participated in the assault on Pegasus Bridge.

mv5bnguxmjjjy2etngq0zi00mjmwlwjjntetytljy2rkndgxytuxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntayndq2nji-_v1_

The last good WW2 film made by people “who were there”

12 April 2004 | by Terry Rodgers (Edinburgh) – See all my reviews

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).

mv5bn2u5njdjndutmgyxys00mmzmlwe3yjktntiyzdgzmzrmnzyyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntayndq2nji-_v1_

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.

mv5bztmyyjc5njqtodi0ni00zgmzltkwnmqtm2vkoda1yzdkmddkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntayndq2nji-_v1_

An absolutely remarkable film…

10/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
1 October 2002
*** This review may contain 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…

tumblr_m8y0y7eyzn1r8pud7o1_250

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…

493642eae34db010c649594d7c49e71f

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…

l3

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…

mv5bytm4zjqyyzatyjqxoc00mwq4ltljztgtyzg4zwzin2q1mjjixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntayndq2nji-_v1_
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…

rommel

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:

1542978397-hans-christian-blech-in-the-longest-day

– 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…

file31_zps53c78b95

– 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…

Allow Yourself A Long Day To See This All-Star War Pic…

7/10
Author: Donald J. Lamb from Philadelphia, PA
12 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.

389_3

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

s5rp9nq6fqvhkrpbee4jrsrmmof

Shaving Ryan’s Privates

9/10
Author: giorgiosurbani from Italy
26 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.

the-longest-day-poster3

“Gentlemen, We Start the War from Right Here.”

10/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
7 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.

henry-fonda-the-longest-day-1962-bpa87n

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.

30a613c651d145549e9e98b1a980cede

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.

werner-hinz-til-kiwe-the-longest-day-1962-bpa296

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.

tumblr_mixipas3oh1qf6o97o1_500

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.

MBDLODA FE008

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.

annex-burton-richard-longest-day-the_02

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s