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Longest Day, The (1962)
Genre: Action Drama War Americana Classic
Directed By: Ken Annakin (Battle of The Bulge; Swiss Family Robinson), Andrew Marton (King Solomon's Mines; The Thin Red Line (1964)), Bernhard Wicki (The Bridge)
Overview: The epic tale of the day before and the day of D-Day, when the Brits and the Yanks smashed their way through Normandy.
The film touts "49 Internationally Acclaimed Stars". This is really well done. A bit vainglorious at times, but such was the era. Everyone does a great job, and John Wayne is actually one of the better portrayals.
The scenes are reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia in regards to the epic scale of the extras and the panoramic helicopter shots. Huge budget, you can really tell. It would have been nice to have seen blood when people got shot, they always just threw their arms in the air with a pained look instead. Still, aside from that little fact, this was a true epic.
The script was well written. Like other war epics, they looked at both sides. The Germans had their perspective, the Brits theirs. They didn't vilify anyone. In fact, if it was anyone who was made not to look good, it would have been the Americans. Subtitles in 1962 for the German army, and French resistance. A real nice touch.
This long exploration of the oft-declared "most important day" in the war on the Western Front really puts us at every major point. From the briefings the day before to the paratrooper flubs to the landing on Omaha beach, this is an up-close and in-depth view at the major assaults that took place on June 6, 1944. Three hours, and it certainly doesn't feel like it.
The mood is more glory than darkness, for obvious reasons, but they don't hold back on letting the audience know that war is hell. What makes this grand, like what made All Quiet on the Western Front grand, is the little tales of humanity: that one person doing something important, or dying in their attempt.
Overall Rating: 82% (A Tremendous Epic)
This war epic is one of the most important WWII films, up there with Saving Private Ryan for it's Omaha beach assault, and All Quiet on the Western Front for it's array of diverse storytelling from different perspectives throughout. This story is certainly one of the better told tales of the best laid plans of mice and men. You won't forget it.