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Combat - WWII

The Longest Day (1962)


Duration 2h 58m Rating (UK) A
Source of story Real events and a book by Cornelius Ryan
Director Ken Annakin plus Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wichi and others.
Writers/Script Cornelius Ryan plus Romain Gary, James Jones, David Pursall, Jack Seddon
Starring Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Fabian, Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, John Gregson, Peter Lawford, Robert Mitchum, Kenneth More, George Segal, Rod Steiger, John Wayne and many others known to viewers over 60.

Elevator Pitch: On 6th June 1944 allied forces made a waterborn assault on the beaches of Normandy, as well as attacks by airborn forces who landed inland by parachute and glider, in order to capture essential river crossings. There was concern as to whether weather conditions would be suitable, and in France the German high command had no idea of what was going to happen. On the beaches the troops swarm ashore and take on the German defences and inland the airborn troops have a hard time carrying out their tasks. We know how it ends.

Content: We see the allied command wondering what to do, and the troops hankering to get on with the job. The German generals telephone each other generally laughing at the possibility of attack. The airborne troops land and are mostly shot by the Germans, and the fleet shell the German defences and the landing craft take the troops to the shore. Thereafter there are scenes of people fighting and many being blown up. The resistance carry out raids, the French paratroops attack a German stronghold and the Americans are held down on Omaha beach for a long time.

A View: Back in the 1960s the inclusion of American pop singers was quite important, but I would not have recognised them, and apart from Robert Mitchum and John Wayne everyone else was virtually a walk on. But after a slow start the invasion takes place; enormous numbers of men leaping out of assault craft and dashing up the beach while the sand erupts every few seconds.  It seemed that some of the scenes took place in front of screens showing real events. If you have any interest at all in WW II this film is well worth a view, even at a small cost.

Additional info: Many of the stars had fought in the war – but this did not include John Wayne who was generally dissed for being too old.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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