Monday, 13 April 2009

The Longest Day

Movie Review: The Longest Day

Year of Release: 1962
Country of Origin: USA
Directors: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki
Cast: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Richard Todd, Red Buttons, Richard Beymer, Robert Ryan

Plot outline: The events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view (IMDb).

The Longest Day was a mammoth project dramatizing D-day, the Allied invasion of France. It was nearly three hours in length and with an enormous ensemble cast, all playing supporting roles. The production was very conscientious about realism: the actors were always of the same nationality as their characters, and spoke in their native languages. The American role in the invasion is not exaggerated, and the German soldiers and officers are not portrayed as brutal stereotypes. The truth is, a great invasion makes for great drama, and with the attention to detail and production values of The Longest Day, the movie couldn't miss. Complaints about the movie are minor: strafing planes don't bother to make a second pass, it is implied that the Germans lost the war because unstable Hitler wouldn't release the Panzer tanks, and attempts at comic relief generally fall flat. The cast is so enormous that it is difficult to remember who is what. But it is fun playing "name the actor": heavyweights John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Rod Steiger and Henry Fonda are easily spotted, as are middleweights such as Eddie Albert, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowell, Peter Lawford, George Segal and Jeffrey Hunter. For some reason, a number of U.S. pop singers and teen idols were cast: Paul Anka, Fabian, Tommy Sands, and Sal Mineo. John Wayne and Henry Fonda would later have key roles in bloated war movies that were not successful, (The Green Berets and Midway respectively) demonstrating that the drama of war does not always come across on movie. (BK)

My judgement: *** out of 4 stars

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