Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Longest Day (1962)

Directors: Ken Annakin, Andrew marton, Bernhard Wicki, Gerd Oswald, Darryl F. Zanuck

Writers: Cornelius Ryan, Romain Gary, James Jones, David Pursall, Jack Seddon

Composer: Maurice Jarre

Starring: Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Richard Burton, Red Buttons, Sean Connery, Ray Danton, Fabian, Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Steve Forrest, Gert Frobe, Jeffrey Hunter, Curd Jurgens, Alexander Knox, Peter Lawford, Roddy McDowall, Sal Mineo, Robert Mitchum, Kenneth More, Edmond O'Brien, Leslie Phillips, Wolfgang Preiss, Robert Ryan, George Segal, Rod Steiger, Peter van Eyck, Robert Wagner, Stuart Whitman, John Wayne, Richard Dawson, Bernard Fox

More info: IMDb

Tagline: This is the day that changed the world... When history held its breath.

Plot: England in June 1944. Unseasonal storms. Allied troops are massed ready for the invasion of France, some already on the boats. The Normandy beaches will be their destination while paratroopers are dropped inland to take key towns and bridges. On the other side of the Channel the Germans still expect the invasion at Calais, and anyway the weather makes them think nothing is likely to be imminent. Eisenhower decides to go. Hitler sleeps on.

My rating:  8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Making a film that tries to encompass something as tremendous as the D-Day invasion is almost an insane undertaking.  You need a lot of money.  Well, they had it and it looks like a good chunk of it was spent on filling the picture with famous faces.  Does it work?  Yes.  There are a ton of recognizable actors which adds to the fun.  The only one that stands out is John Wayne.  There's a scene where he appears a little drunk or, at the very least, not on top of his game.  He looks like he's concentrating really hard on the beats he needs to hit which end with a 'no way' hand gesture.  It's hilariously forced.  Other than that the acting never got in the way.  Robert Mitchum comes off like a tough son of a bitch.  One scene that has always packed a punch for me is when the paratroopers land in all sorts of nasty places.  I can't help but begin to feel how awful it was for the fellas that ended up that way.  Just terrible.  There's a really great tracking shot during the battle along the river running through the town that's impressive as hell.  And it's great that they used subtitles for the Germans, something you didn't get much of back then.  There's a lot to like in this picture.  It's a great film with a lot going for it.  Does it feel like 3 hours?  Not really. It's engaging enough that it somehow avoids the curse of bad pacing considering its length.

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