This monumental account of the allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day (June 6, 1944) is a classic among WWII films. Spectacular battle scenes; intense acting by John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Sean Connery and Sir Richard Burton, among others; and gut-wrenching pathos capture the horrors and heroics of a defining historical event. 1962; black and white, 3 hours.
The Longest Day
is Hollywood's definitive D-day movie. More modern accounts such as Saving Private Ryan
are more vividly realistic, but producer Darryl F. Zanuck's epic 1962 account is the only one to attempt the daunting task of covering that fateful day from all perspectives. From the German high command and front-line officers to the French Resistance and all the key Allied participants, the screenplay by Cornelius Ryan, based on his own authoritative book
, is as factually accurate as possible. The endless parade of stars (John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, and Richard Burton, to name a few) makes for an uneasy mix of verisimilitude and Hollywood star-power, however, and the film falls a little flat for too much of its three-hour running time. But the set-piece battles are still spectacular, and if the landings on Omaha Beach lack the graphic gore of Private Ryan
they nonetheless show the sheer scale and audacity of the invasion. --Mark Walker