Let’s not kid ourselves: When you have a title like The Longest Day you know you’re going to be strapping yourself in for at least three hours. Don’t fight it. Just let your face melt into the screen and embrace the slow sensation of your eyeballs losing all claims to moisture.
I actually love historical docudramas like this one and in reality it didn’t feel that long to me (or at least, not in comparison to the udder nightmare of March 9, 2014).
The Longest Day was the highest-grossing black-and-white film until 1993 when Schindler’s List came along. This movie’s success basically saved 20th Century Fox the next year when the studio released its money-pit Cleopatra epic, which was filmed at the same time.
The film was packed with the following all-stars of the 1950s-60s, many of whom were actually WWII veterans: John Wayne (The Quiet Man), Robert Mitchum (Holiday Affair), Henry Fonda (12 Angry Men), Richard Beymer (West Side Story), Peter Lawford (Royal Wedding), Richard Todd (A Man Called Peter) and Richard Burton (The Robe), who was reportedly so bored with the delays in the middle of filming Cleopatra that he flew himself to The Longest Day’s filming location to take a cameo role as an RAF pilot.
The film also briefly features a young, strapping lad named Sean Connery, who was about the same age as he was in Darby O’Gill and the Little People, and who debuted as James Bond the same year this film was shot.
Another cool fact about the cast is that Richard Todd actually took part in the action at the same bridge featured in the film. He was even offered the opportunity to play himself but joked, “I don’t think I could accept a part that small.” He ended up playing the commander of the bridge assault.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: This is a war movie so yes, there is shooting, etc., but like most older war movies, the violence isn’t gory or unnecessarily focused on. And if your mother happens to disapprove of the shooting (as mine did when I used to play GoldenEye 007 on my Nintendo 64), just use the same line I did: “It’s OK, Mom, it’s on paintball mode.”
I know I did a Memorial-Day-themed post last week—and Heaven forbid we pay tribute to the sacrifices of our military men and women two weeks in a row—but with June 6th this week I really wanted to feature this film.
I don’t know when World War III is going to go down, but if that happens, I really hope there are level-headed leaders and nations somewhere across the globe who can unite under a common cause and pull off what the Allies did back in the 1940s. (And by the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if the good people of Germany were a part of that future coalition.)
A spirit of cooperation on a massive scale, and a willingness to do what needed to be done is really what characterized the generation who saved the world. And if we want to keep the peace they handed to us, we must be willing to do the same.
“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind…” — Moses 7:18