D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe took place 72 years ago yesterday. It was the turning point in the war against Nazi Germany, its success sealed the fate of Hitler’s reign of terror. On the early morning hours of June 6, 1945 nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers carried 160,000 troops from the US, Britain and Canada across the English Channel to hit the Nazi’s Atlantic Wall. By the end of the 1st day, 10,000 of them would be dead but the Allied forces captured the beachheads and pushed the Germans into retreat. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history and has been the subject of numerous books, documentaries and movies.
DMG Entertainment presents our top five D-Day movies, in honor of those who sacrificed everything on this D-Day anniversary.
THE LONGEST DAY
THE LONGEST DAY depicts the Battle of Normandy from the viewpoints of both the Allied and the German forces with consultation with veterans of both sides. Based on a 1959 book by Cornelius Ryan, the black-and-white film won Oscars for cinematography and special effects and was released in 1962. Boasting a cast of stars – John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda, Rod Steiger, Robert Wagner, Peter Lawford, Roddy McDowell, Eddie Albert, Sal Mineo, Paul Anka, Fabian and Red Buttons – all join the action. It needed to be three hours long to give everybody their share of screen time.
BAND OF BROTHERS
This American war drama mini-series is the be-all and end-all of D-Day videos. It was based on the non-fiction book by historian Stephen Ambrose and follows Easy Company (part of the 101st Airborne Division) from boot camp in the United States through D-Day and right up to the end of the war and Japan’s surrender. Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, the series was their second WWII project after SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. In 2001, the series won Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for best mini-series. At the time, BAND OF BROTHERS was the most expensive TV mini-series made by any network in the world, costing $125 million.
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
Realism – it was the go-to comment when after seeing the opening 27 minutes of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN when it came out in 1998. Spielberg depicted the intensely harrowing beachfront attack by American forces on Omaha Beach with painstaking accuracy. Employing D-Day veterans and historian Stephen Ambrose as consultants and amputees as actors, the result is shocking and powerful. The rest of the story follows a group of soldiers who go behind enemy lines after D-Day to find Private James Ryan (played by Matt Damon) whose three brothers have been killed in action. Tom Hanks leads a squad of men (Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) in the search. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was nominated for 11 Academy Awards; Spielberg won his a second Academy Award for Best Director and the film won four further awards. It was a huge success, grossing $481.8 million worldwide.
WHERE EAGLES DARE
1968’s WHERE EAGLES DARE was based on a novel by Alistair MacLean (who simultaneously wrote the screenplay) and starred Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton. Taking place in in the months leading up to the invasion, U.S. Army Brigadier General George Carnaby (Robert Beatty), a chief Allied planner is captured by the Nazis and taken to Schloss Adler castle in the Alps. A team of British and American commandos are sent on a daring aerial mission to rescue the General before reveals the D-Day plans. It’s not easy; there is a Nazi traitor in their midst.
THE BIG RED ONE
THE BIG RED ONE stars Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill and Robert Carradine. Made in 1980, the movie follows Marvin’s character, a soldier in the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, nicknamed the ‘Big Red One’, from the final hours of WWI through various WWII campaigns including the Normandy invasion and the end of the war. Written by Samuel Fuller, a World War II veteran who had served in the 1st Infantry Division, the film was cut considerably when first released. A restored version: THE BIG RED ONE: THE RECONSTRUCTION premièred at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, seven years after Fuller died.
Enjoy and stay tuned to DMG Entertainment for the latest updates on our upcoming feature films.