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A Hollywood Dream Crushed at Normandy

A view from inside a gun bunker at Longues, Normandy A view from inside a gun bunker at Longues, Normandy


The word brings to mind many things, but for many of us it means but one thing: D-Day. Hollywood has taken the event and made it a continuing part of our collective lives.

We have jumped into Normandy with the Band of Brothers, and shared the confusion, terror, loss, humor, and more that went with that jump. We've shared the day, and it's aftermath, through Tom Hanks' character in Saving Private Ryan. In addition to those blockbusters, you also have Ike: Countdown to D-Day, D-Day, the Sixth of June, D-Day The Total Story, and a host of lesser films.

Yet, only one movie has focused on the day and captured the public's imagination: The Longest Day. This 1962 movie has moved from the big screen to being a staple of classic movie and history channels. In it, one sees the different pieces of the operation -- from both sides. It's treatment of the Germans is far more even-handed than one might expect, though it is clear who are the good guys and who is not. The cast is impressive, with Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Robert Ryan, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Red Buttons, and many more.