At 178 minutes, The Longest Day is definitely a commitment to watch, but in my opinion, it is truly worth it. I have viewed this war piece many times over the years. It is a fine account of the historic D-Day landing on the beaches of France. That said, it is not quite a hundred percent accurate, but it does have the heart and soul of the assault.
In so many ways, the Americans should have been slaughtered, but it was our own rebellion and ability to go with the flow that got us through. Meanwhile, Hitler slept with everyone afraid to wake him up. His nap may have cost him the war, which was a good thing, of course.
The Longest Day was filmed in black and white to preserve the reality of the war. It was a smart decision. It features a stellar, international cast. My favorite is John Wayne. His horror at seeing dead Americans hanging from steeples is chilling. I do not think I will ever forget that.
Likewise, comedian Red Buttons has one of the greatest lines of all when he talks about how Wayne has changed in that last day and then corrects himself by saying maybe it was he and the other soldiers who had changed.
The absolute best line, however, is nearly the very last line when one soldier asks rhetorically, “I wonder who won.” Wow, that still gets to me.
There is a theme song for the movie, titled appropriately, The Longest Day. Paul Anka wrote the song and he sings it. Anka, along with Fabian, also appears in the movie as a young soldier.
Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Robert Ryan, Henry Fonda, and Jeffrey Hunter are a few of the stars in the movie. Hunter’s role is one of my favorites, though I am not thrilled with his ending, but I know it happened. What is a fun curiosity is that when released a lot of the public relation material listed 42 guest stars in the movie. That eventually went up, probably due to folks like Sean Connery who had minor roles and really did not break out until a bit later.
Regardless, The Longest Day is an incredible revisit to D-Day.