Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

The Longest Day Reviews

One of the most ambitious war films ever undertaken, this star-studded depiction of the D-Day invasion was long the pet project of Fox Studios boss Darryl Zanuck, who spared no expense in bringing THE LONGEST DAY breathtaking scope and authenticity, going so far as to insist that the shooting be done only in weather conditions that matched those of the actual event. Based on Cornelius Ryan's compilation of interviews with D-Day survivors, the film is presented in three segments, the first detailing the Allied preparation for the invasion and the wait for the weather to break; the second re-creating the movement of the massive armada across the English Channel and the preliminary, behind-the-lines sallies of paratroops and glider-transported commandos; and the last depicting the assaults on the Normandy beaches. Intercut with the portrayal of the Allied side of the momentous invasion is the German (subtitled) response, including the report to headquarters of the first German officer to spot the armada: "Those thousands of ships you say the Allies don't have--well, they have them!" The work of three credited directors (reportedly, Zanuck helmed all the American and British interiors himself) and no less than eight cameramen, THE LONGEST DAY is visually stunning--its extraordinary camera movement and Cinemascope photography brilliantly augmenting the meticulously reenacted battle scenes. The only thing bigger than the film's scope are its stars, including John Wayne (who received $250,000 for four days' work) as Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort of the 82nd Paratroop Division; Henry Fonda as Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.; Robert Mitchum as Brig. Gen. Norman Cota, who finally moves his hard-pressed men off bloody Omaha Beach, where they are being slaughtered by German crossfire; Red Buttons as a paratrooper; Rod Steiger as the captain of one of the armada ships; Peter Lawford as the flamboyant commando leader Lord Lovat (who was present at the shoot); Richard Burton as a wounded pilot; and Curt Jurgens as German general Blumentritt. Made for $10 million, this magnificent film was the most expensive black-and-white production to its date.