Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Reel 50 for D-Day

“You can’t give the enemy a break. Send him to hell.”

On this anniversary of D-Day, it is absolutely appropriate to give credit to the first effective major motion picture about the event. This year marks the 50th anniversary of THE LONGEST DAY.

Based upon the novel of the same name, THE LONGEST DAY was very unique for its time. Produced by both British and American film companies, the film had a massive cast which had French and German characters speaking their native languages with subtitles in English. Also setting it apart was the fact that it was filmed in black-and-white; a bold move considering the vibrancy of the color films made in that era.
The cast was an all-star team. Although many of the stars were relegated to just cameos, the list is very impressive: Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, John Wayne, and Robert Wagner just scratch the surface of the long credit list. The film would also be Sean Connery’s last movie before being cast as James Bond.

The film was critically acclaimed. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning two. Despite many liberties taken in the eye of history for dramatic effect, the film is regarded by many to be the definitive D-Day story.

At three hours long with 1960’s era pacing, THE LONGEST DAY is a bit of a chore to sit through, and the many famous faces packed into it nearly overshadow everything else. Still, THE LONGEST DAY is a marvel to look at, as many films made today fail to capture the massive scope which this film did fifty years ago. Steven Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) would eventually become the world-wide favorite in D-Day and WWII films, but THE LONGEST DAY did it first, and it did it well. If history is why we are here today, then THE LONGEST DAY is an important part which should not be forgotten.

“Remember every bit of it, ‘cause we are on the eve of a day that people are going to talk about long after we are dead and gone.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.