The Longest Day

Released: 1962
Grade: B

The Longest Day (1962) on IMDb


This is the story of the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944. Three million men were stationed in England, ready and waiting for Allied leadership to give the signal. Meanwhile, in Germany, Nazi officials knew the invasion attempt would come sooner or later, but they didn’t know when and they didn’t know where. Even when all indications pointed to an invasion at Normandy, many Nazi officials believed it would be at Pas de Calais.


On Labor Day this year, I decided to finally watch this movie. I felt like I had put it off for way too long already. I usually enjoy watching movies about the second world war, as you might have guessed, if you have visited this website before. I’m actually not an expert on D-Day events or the invasion timeline, so I can’t say for sure how accurate this story is.

This film is loaded with movie stars – pretty much anyone who was big in the late 50s and early 60s is in this movie. There are more stars in this movie than pretty much any other war movie that has ever been made. It’s pretty incredible that they’re all here.

Out of all the major actors, Robert Mitchum gives by far the very best performance. And that’s really saying something because he’s not actually my favorite actor either. But he’s truly outstanding in this film. He plays an actual general who was in charge of one of the landing sites.

Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Robert Ryan, Sean Connery, Mel Ferrer, Peter Lawford, Roddy McDowall, Edmond O’Brien, Rod Steiger and Robert Wagner are all in this movie for less than 10 minutes each. Though it could have been great to have seen all these stars in a dramatic film, this kind of turns out to be a three-hour parade of cameos. I found it to be extremely distracting, since I quickly fell into the temptation of identifying actors rather than just watching the movie.

I will also say this, however. After seeing it multiple times, I was able to enjoy it more without being distracted by all the cameos.

Finally, just a word on the plot itself. At 3 hours long, it really seems like there aren’t many battle scenes. However, the last 30 minutes or so are a must-watch. Mitchum leads the troops into blasting a hole into the German defenses and this part is definitely the best of the entire film. Though it takes a long time to watch this movie, it’s a good film to watch to understand the sacrifices that were made during this terrible war.

On the other hand, it’s not my favorite war film. I would rate A Bridge too Far and Patton higher in many respects. However, if you’re in the mood for a war movie, this one is a good choice.

Of Note

At one point in the film, John Wayne’s character breaks his ankle. In the closeup of the injury, it doesn’t look like anything is wrong. The medic, however, says he has a compound fracture. If that were true, there should have been a bone poking out through the skin. Oops.

One scene was actually quite silly-looking. It happened after the American soldiers climbed up the cliff and then threw a grenade into the gunner position at the top of the hill. There were several dummies that were blown off the cliff there.

This was actually pretty interesting. I had heard that Hollywood gave George Lucas a load of trouble because he put all the movie credits at the end of the film. And yet, Longest Day is 15 years older and it did the exact same thing. There are no credits until the very end, though there is a title card about 6 minutes after the film starts.