Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Longest Day, 1962

THE LONGEST DAY was one of the big ones in that great year 1962. I was 16 at the time but did not see it then, though have seen bits of it over the years, so it was finally interesting to sit down and see it properly. It it is of course 20th Century Fox's retelling, in crisp black and white, of the Normandy landing in 1944 done in an almost documentary style. This was producer Darryl F Zanuck's brainchild, and it is quite impressive. covering the events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view.

The British had spent the 1950s re-fighting World War Two with all those films (DUNKIRK, THE CRUEL SEA,  THE DAM BUSTERSTHE SEA SHALL NOT HAVE THEM, SEA OF SAND, ICE COLD IN ALEX, REACH FOR THE SKY etc etc) keeping the likes of John Mills, Richard Todd, Kenneth More, Bogarde, Attenborough, Baker etc busy), then the all-star spectacular started arriving in the '60s, a mere 18 years after those D-Day battles, starting with THE LONGEST DAY and followed in 1963 by Carl Foreman's equally starry but downbeat THE VICTORS showing how war degrades everybody, then MGM's all-star OPERATION CROSSBOW and Rene Clement's French all-star IS PARIS BURNING? (roping in the likes of Delon, Belmondo, Montand, Signoret, Welles and visiting Americans), then the later THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN, OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR and A BRIDGE TOO FAR, as well as all the gung-ho actioners.

THE LONGEST DAY from Cornelius Ryan's book is a bit bitty, introducing us to all those guest stars for a moment or two, then we return to them later to see how they fare in the events ... the military are led by John Wayne, Mitchum, Robert Ryan and Henry Fonda looks in, and the personnel include all the young actors on the lot: Jeff Hunter, Robert Wagner, Fabian, Richard Beymer, Tom Tryon, Ray Danton etc. The British get  look in too: Welsh boys Richard Burton (on a break from CLEOPATRA) and Donald Houston, John Gregson as the padre, Todd and More, Sean Connery etc. The Germans are led by weary Curt Jurgens who cannot wake up The Fuhrer as he has taken a sleeping pill, and the French resistance seem to be led by Irina Demick (Zanuck's ladyfriend of the time). At least the German scenes are in German, and directed by German Bernhard Wicki. Ken Annakin and Andrew Morton handle the rest of the action sequences. It was a big achievement at the time, but rather unsatisfactory as there are no main characters to identify with, as we dash around seeing what all the guest stars are up to the three hour running time zips by, The beach landings are not as graphic as SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

1 comment:

  1. I've always liked it though we didn't need all those stars; as you say there's no-one really to identify with (though I always remember Red Buttons getting caught in the tree). Nicely photographed and at least they used sub-titles for the German sequences. Avoid like the plague a colourized print that is doing the rounds.