The Longest Day (1962) directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, and Bernhard Wicki
The events of D-Day and the night before are chronicled in this epic war film written by Cornelius Ryan from his book of the same name. The movie is epic in scale, in scope, and in cast. Even though the events place in little more than 24 hours, the movie ranges from the various UK Allied camps to the various German headquarters in occupied France to the beaches and towns of Normandy. Some of the battle scenes have amazing long tracking shots, showing almost entire towns with fighting in the streets or long stretches of the beach. Visually it is quite impressive.
The cast features over forty named stars with John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and Richard Burton being the biggest. Many of them are introduced with the cliched zoom in to their backs and then the star turns around. They all do a good job, some better than others (sometimes the performances are hampered by implausibly historically aware comments by the actors, like one or two of the Germans who say, "This is the most important moment in the war, we can't lose the initiative!"). The wide range of characters allows for many different small stories to be told, like the paratrooper who was hung up on the church tower in Ste Mere Eglise while his unit dropped into the town and was slaughtered by the local Germans, or the British commander who landed with the gliders at Pegasus Bridge and had to hold the bridge until relief came. The D-Day Invasion was probably the most logistically difficult assault in modern history and the detail is impressive and apparent in this film. Also fascinating is the various problems and failures on the German side to react in enough time to stop the invasion.
The movie is an impressive tribute to the men who fought and died during World War II. Recommended!