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DIRECTORS: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton and Bernhard Wicki.



John Wayne, Rod Steiger, Robert Ryan, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Jeffrey Hunter, Sal Mineo, Roddy McDowall, Leo Genn, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka, Howard Marion-Crawford, Johnny Crawford, Fabian, Mel Ferrer, Red Buttons, Dewey Martin, Richard Beymer, Edmond O'Brien, George Segal, Tom Tryon, Stuart Whitman, Alexander Knox, Mark Damon, Ron Randell, Tommy Sands, Eddie Albert, Peter Lawford, Jack Hedley, Steve Forrest.


Richard Burton, Richard Todd, Sean Connery, Kenneth More, Leslie Phillips, Sian Phillips, John Meillon, Christopher Lee, Richard Wattis, Donald Houston, Michael Medwin, Norman Rossington, Richard Burton, Patrick Barr, John Gregson.


Curd Jurgens, Kurt Meisel, Peter Van Eyck, Wolfgang Preiss, Gert Frobe, Hans-Christian Blech, Robert Freytag, Wolfgang Lukschy, Richard Munch, Wolfgang Buttner, Til Kiwe, Heinz Reincke.


Madeleine Renaud, Jean Servais, Arletty, Christian Marquand, Fernand Ledoux, Alex Tissot, Georges Wilson, Francoise Rosay, Irina Demick, Jean-Louis Barrault, Maurice Poli.


A huge-scope - and hugely overrated - WWII epic, with an allstar cast (most of whom are completely wasted in cameo roles) and awesome, colossal battle sequences.

June, 1944. The Allied forces - combined American, British, French and Canadian militaries - mass for the invasion of France. The Germans prepare of the invasion and try to figure out just where it will come, and the French resistance in Normandy stirs up trouble behind the lines.

The allstar cast is filled with instantly familiar names, whether you're a fan of mainstream movies or European trash cinema. Like most international war epics of the time period, the film focuses on the generals running the battle and pays little attention to the men in the field. During the night of June 5th, the French resistance (led by beautiful Irina Demick and Maurice Poli) blow up trains and cut German communications. Of the American commanders, few make little impact. Henry Fonda strides ashore at Utah Beach and disappears for the rest of the movie. Robert Mitchum trots up and down Omaha Beach as men die around him, chomping his cigar and declaring "We've got to get off this beach!", yet it's not until the last act that he seems to do anything to get the men inland. Mostly they storm around mumbling (or yelling) about how important this one day is to the rest of the world. The stories of the men involved in the hand-to-hand fighting are much more exciting. John Wayne and his airborne contingent are misdropped in the middle of a French suburb, and most of the men are machine-gunned as they fall from the sky. The one survivor is Red Buttons, who gets stuck in a bell tower and goes deaf from several hours of the bell ringing. Robert Wagner's Ranger company (George Segal, Fabian, Paul Anka and Tommy Sands among them) storm up a cliff to take out a German artillery emplacement, which they discover hasn't been installed. Richard Todd's glider-borne forces secure a bridge and hold off the Germans until Kenneth More's elite troops arrive to reinforce them. Christian Marquand's French commandos trek inland to secure a vital town and face off against a German artillery gun which they cannot reach. The Germans try to figure out what's going on and can't fight back too efficiently. Hans-Christian Blech sees the approaching American fleet, but Colonel Peter van Eyck refuses to believe him. Heinz Reincke has only two fighter planes with which to fight off the invaders. Wolfgang Preiss tries to co-ordinate resistance with few resources. Curd Jurgens must convince the Fuhrer that this is the real invasion, not a feint, but to no avail. Finally, Richard Burton's fighter is shot down during the night, and he links up with lost American Private Richard Beymer as the day comes to a close.

Tying all of these stories together are some magnificent battle sequences. The Omaha Beach landing is depicted on epic scale, with thousands of extras, vintage ships and aircraft. It's nowhere near as realistic-looking as the landing in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, but what it lacks in gore it makes for in sheer scope. The 82nd Airborne misdrop is a long, drawn-out massacre scene which will have you cringing and knocking your knees by the end, as you dozens of men cut down mercilessly as they drop into view of waiting enemy machine-gun sights.

Lots of emphasis is put on strategy - how men get from place to place, what the capturing of one objective means to the rest of the invasion. No small unit is insignificant; each man who does his part will greatly contribute to the success of D-Day. A good deal of time is also spent depicting unorthodox tactics used to fool the Germans - dummy paratroops which explode; metallic clickers used for identification purposes and such.

THE LONGEST DAY is a huge epic, with lots of emphasis but on big names to draw viewers to seeing the movie. You can appreciate the scope because every ounce of it is real; none of this movie is computer-animated, like the recent epic PEARL HARBOR. All of the explosions are real; there are no miniatures. It's a bloated, overrated look at the battle, but still delivers loads of entertainment. Not a perfect epic, but still pretty good. I give it 1 Bullet for scope; 1 Bullet for the huge amount of actors; 1 bullet for action and another because all of the other elements came together.



The film makes an excellent companion to "Is Paris Burning?", which is set in the days following D-Day and to "A Bridge too Far", set in Holland in the fall of 1944. All three films combine common characters and units and show in great, epic detail all of the strategy and intensity of WWII combat operations.