The Longest Day (1962)
The Longest Day
Action / Classics / Drama / Epic / War
Directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, Gerd Oswald, Darryl F. Zanuck and John Wayne
Cast: John Wayne as Colonel Vandervoort
Robert Mitchum as General Cota
Henry Fonda as General Roosevelt
Robert Ryan as General Gavin
Rod Steiger as Commander
Robert Wagner as Ranger
Richard Beymer as Schultz
Mel Ferrer as General Haines
Jeffrey Hunter as Sergeant Fuller
Paul Anka as Ranger
Sal Mineo as Private Martini
Richard Burton as Flying Officer David Campbell
Red Buttons as Pvt. John Steele
Sean Connery as Pvt. Flanagan
Peter Lawford as Lord Lovat
Roddy McDowall as Pvt. Morris
George Segal as U.S. Army Ranger
The dramatic retelling of the invasion of occupied Europe on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day. The story is told in several mini-episodes that discuss the actions of the French Resistance who cut telegraph wires and destroyed enemy trains; the 82nd Airborne who dropped in behind enemy lines; the French Commandos who captured the town of Oistreham; American Rangers that scaled the cliffs at Point-du-Hoc; and of course the famous battles for Normandy Beach, at Juno, Omaha and Utah.
The film was a major undertaking and at its $10 million price tag it was the most expensive black and white film ever made until Schindler’s List (1993).
Many veterans of the war from both sides served as technical advisors and many are shown as characters in the movie. For example, Richard Todd, who played Major John Howard, leader of the British assault on Pegasus Bridge, actually took part in the bridge assault on D-Day. This led to an odd cinematic event, as another actor was cast to play the real Richard Todd as he reports to Major John Howard, played by Richard Todd. Also Joseph Lowe landed on Omaha beach and scaled the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc, and repeated the feat in front of the cameras 17 years later.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was being considered to play himself in the film, but it was determined that he could not be made to look young enough to portray himself, so the role went to Henry Grace. Grace was a set decorator with no acting experience, though he looked exactly like the former president. This is his only acting credit.
Famed British actor Christopher Lee auditioned for a role, but it was thought that he didn’t look enough like a military man for the film, although he had been in the Royal Air Force as an intelligence officer.
This was Sean Connery’s last role before he was cast as James Bond. Two of the villains in this film went on to be Bond bad guys.
The film won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Black and White and Best Special Effects. It was also nominated for Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture.
Darryl F. Zanuck was quoted as saying he didn’t think much of actors forming their own production companies, and used John Wayne’s Alamo (1961) as an example. Wayne was aware of the article when Zanuck approached him and demanded $250,000 to appear in the film, almost 10 times what other famous actors got. Wayne got the salary.
While clearing the beaches of Normandy near Pointe-du-Hoc, the crew unearthed an actual tank that had been buried since the invasion. They unearthed it, cleaned it off and used it for the film.
There was a nudist colony two miles inland from the Corsican Beach. The crew had to post signs warning people not to approach, lest naked people wander into the shot.
Roddy McDowall was working on Cleopatra (1963) which Darryl F. Zanuck was filming at the same time as this film. Roddy was so exasperated by production delays on Cleopatra he begged Zanuck to let him do something in the film so he could finally do some work. Roddy has a small role as an American Soldier.
This was the film debut of Richard Dawson.
Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort was rather disappointed to discover that John Wayne was playing him in the film. Even when the movie was filmed Vandervoort was still a decade younger than John Wayne.
During the making of this film Darryl F. Zanuck effectively commanded more 'troops' than any of the generals in the actual campaign.
Directors: John Wayne
Actors: Richard Burton, Red Buttons, Sean Connery, Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Jeffrey Hunter, Peter Lawford, Roddy McDowall, Sal Mineo, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, George Segal, Rod Steiger, Robert Wagner, John Wayne