At nearly three hours, it’s a long movie too, but it’s time well spent. The Longest Day is a canonical classic about the second World War. Cornelius Ryan, a journalist who covered the war as a correspondent, wrote both the book and the screenplay. The subject of The Longest Day is the allied invasion of France on D-day – June 6, 1944. It’s presented as interleaved scenes about particular units and people – French Resistance Fighters, American and British infantry divisions, Field Marshal von Rundstedt, a hapless German sergeant, allied paratroopers and commandos, General Eisenhower.
Much of the dialogue is German and French with English subtitles, so the movie does require focused attention. The cast includes John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, and many others. They all do good work, without being more prominent than their parts. The Longest Day is an engaging and satisfying movie. It’s not quite a documentary, but not really a vehicle for narrative or character development either. It’s not a military procedural, but it is about the events of the day more than the people.