It's been 80 years since the D-Day assault that brought the allied forces to the Normandy beaches, and began the push that would end the second World War.

There have been many incredible war movies made about that attack. And one of my favorite is The Longest Day, which had the jaw-dropping cast including John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, and many others.

That's a movie that I saw on TCM as a kid and that I've tried to watch on June 6th every year since. The film tells the story of D-Day from multiple perspectives, including American, British, French, and German soldiers and commanders. This provides a comprehensive and nuanced view of the events.

And it has some of the most wondrous cinematography ever put to celluloid.

Every time I show someone new the film, we always wind up talking about the French assault on Ouistreham, which contains a oner that has to be seen to believe.

Check it out below.

The French Assault on Ouistreham from 'The Longest Day'

What I love about this movie are all the practical effects we see employed. This was made in 1962, so there's no CGI. These are real men running through real explosions—done safely with a crew and planned explosives. But the reality here is striking and moving.

The film frequently employs wide shots and aerial views to showcase the vast scale of the D-Day operation. These shots establish the geographical context and emphasize the sheer number of troops and equipment involved in the invasion.

The scope and scale on screen during this oner is just breathtaking, and there are a few other shots in the movie that rival it—like the wall climb.

The Longest Day was a massive production with multiple directors for different segments:

  • Ken Annakin: Directed the British and French exterior scenes.
  • Andrew Marton: Directed the American exterior scenes.
  • Bernhard Wicki: Directed the German scenes.

The film had several cinematographers as well:

  • Henri Persin: Primarily for French sequences
  • Walter Wottitz: Primarily for American sequences
  • Jean Bourgoin: Additional photography

Each of these talented individuals contributed to the unique visual style and impact of The Longest Day, making it a cinematic masterpiece.

The Longest Day is a testament to the skill and artistry of the filmmakers. The combination of wide shots, close-ups, handheld camera work, and dramatic lighting creates a visually stunning and emotionally powerful portrayal of D-Day. And the way the directors meshed their points of view in the editing is astounding.

The film's black-and-white aesthetic has become iconic, contributing to its enduring legacy as a classic war film.

Let me know what you think in the comments.