->''Many men came here as soldiers, many men will pass this way. Many men will count the hours as they live The Longest Day.\\
Many men are tired and weary, many men are here to stay. Many men won't see the sunset when it ends [[TitleDrop The Longest Day]].''
-->-- [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PwUJrVeLgY From the]] ThemeTune by Maurice Jarre and Paul Anka.
'''''The Longest Day''''' is the title of a book by Cornelius Ryan describing the events of D-Day through the eyes of as many of the participants -- Allied, German and local inhabitants -- as he could find and interview.
In 1962, the book was made into a film with an AllStarCast and LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters. Rather than focussing on one particular group of participants in the manner of ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan'', the work aimed to provide an overview of the events of D-Day as they unfolded. Viewpoint characters include French resistance fighters, German generals and local commanders, Allied generals and commanders as well as members of the Airborne troops, Rangers, infantry, air force and navy components of the landings.
Because the film was made just 18 years after the events it depicts, many of the older actors had fought in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, and some had even taken part in the landings -- Richard Todd even played his own commanding officer from 1944.[[note]]Todd had participated in the Pegasus Bridge operation as a young soldier, and is even shown in the film interacting with "himself", although this is never mentioned in the film. Supposedly, he was offered the chance to play himself, but he picked his CO instead because he felt his own role in the landings was too small. [[/note]]
Another Cornelius Ryan book, ''Film/ABridgeTooFar'', later got a similar all-star-cast big movie treatment.
!!''The Longest Day'' provides examples of the following tropes:
* TheAce: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Priller Josef Priller]], a fighter wing commander and one of the two German airmen later seen strafing the beaches on the day as mentioned below in WorthyOpponent (the other being his wingman Heinz Wodarczyk). His ace status is referred to during the phone conversation early on in the film in which he basically asks "where the hell are my planes?"
* AirstrikeImpossible: Though not highlighted in the film, in order for those two German planes to get to the beach to strafe them, they had to make it past all of the Allied fighter planes providing cover over that part of France. In order to make it ''back'' from the beach, they had to fly so low, when they landed they found that the tips of their propellers had been damaged from clipping treetops on the way.
* AmericaSavesTheDay: Averted. The British and French divisions of the Normandy landings do their part in reaching their objectives. Almost subverted with Omaha Beach, where the Americans were stuck until a HeroicSacrifice opens up the German defenses.
* AndStarring: The cast credits are announced as being in alphabetical order, but at the end of the list is "and Creator/JohnWayne"; he would otherwise have been third to last.
* AnyoneCanDie: This is a war movie about the Normandy landings where thousands of soldiers got killed. Half the cast is bound to die doing [[HeroicSacrifice something heroic]], [[TooDumbToLive something foolish]], ''or both'', before the credits roll.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: Mostly averted, due to the source material being Ryan's nonfiction book (and by extension, interviews with the actual participants.) However, the film did popularize a few misconceptions about the invasion. Some notable ones:
** The Verlaine poem being ''the'' message to the French Resistance announcing the invasion. In reality, the message was code for one specific group to perform certain acts of sabotage; it just so happened that the Germans had learned of this code and correctly interpreted it to mean the invasion was imminent.[[note]]Notably, the film ''does'' show a resistance fighter reacting to a completely different phrase -- "John has a long moustache."[[/note]]
** That the Ranger assault on Pointe du Hoc was a failure (or simply unnecessary) due to them not finding the coastal guns they were meant to destroy, with the implication that the guns simply didn't exist. In actuality, the Germans had simply moved the guns inland, and a unit of Rangers did ultimately find and destroy them.
* ArtisticLicenseShips: They tried to avert this by only showing the warships in silhouette, but all that did was exaggerate their obviously postwar lattice masts.
* AsYouKnow: Several speeches open this way.
* BadassPreacher: A paratrooper chaplain, having landed in a flooded field and under enemy fire, still takes the time to locate his communion set before heading for cover.
* BilingualBonus: Trilingual, actually. Half of the dialogue is in German and French in the original version, spoken by their native actors. While most instances are translated there are some instances the German running out of a bunker shouting "''bitte, bitte''"'. An American Ranger shoots him and then says, "I wonder what 'bitter, bitter' means.". "''Bitte''" is the German for "please".
* ChromaKey: Quite obviously when Rommel speaks to his generals atop the ''Atlantikwall''; also during the landing-craft scenes.
* ColonelBadass: A number bear mentioning. Among them:
** "Pips" Priller, who led his unit -- ''all two planes of it'' -- in a strafing attack on Sword Beach, was an Oberstleutnant[[note]]Lieutenant Colonel[[/note]] at the time.
** Benjamin Vandervoort. Played by Creator/JohnWayne? Check. Regimental commander in the [[ElitesAreMoreGlamorous 82nd Airborne]]? Check. Breaks his ankle on landing and refuses to leave his men... for [[UpToEleven weeks?]] Double check.
* DeadpanSnarker: Loads and loads.
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: To give the film a documentary/newsreel feel, as well as to take advantage of actual footage that survived the landings themselves.
* DramaticGunCock: "Two clicks... I heard... two clicks..."
* DyingMomentOfAwesome: Many, this being a war film.
* ElitesAreMoreGlamorous: A lot of focus is given to the British and American Airborne, as well as the American Rangers and British and French Commandos. Justified, as these units were given the toughest and most critical missions in the invasion.
** In a meta example, young heartthrob/A-list actors were purposefully used to cast these units, to emphasize their prestige.
* TheEngineer: Naturally, when you're up against a big concrete wall, you call in this guy.
* FieldPromotion: When Brigadier General Norman Cota (Creator/RobertMitchum) finds that the highest ranking Army engineer is Sergeant John H. Fuller, he promotes Fuller to lieutenant and puts him in charge of demolishing a concrete barrier.
* ForWantOfANail: A major contributing factor in the Allies successfully establishing their beachhead in Normandy was some absurdly unlikely coincidences that ''really happened''.
** Many unit commanders were away from their posts to participate in previously scheduled war games.
** Erwin Rommel, who was in overall command of the coastal defenses and arguably the best general the Germans had, was away from his post because he took a short leave to visit his wife on her birthday.
** Adolf Hitler decided to sleep in that morning and left orders not to be disturbed, resulting in several tank units that answered directly to him not participating in the battle at all.
** He didn't have the four stars, but Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt III (Creator/HenryFonda) was the highest-ranking officer on Utah Beach that day and the only General to land with the first wave. Walking cane and all. His presence and leadership proved essential when his division was landed a mile out of position. "We'll start the war from here."
** Brigadier General Norman Cota was Roosevelt's counterpart at Omaha Beach. When the assault bogged down in the face of immense German fire, he personally organized and led the attack that got the American assault moving.
* GeneralFailure: The Germans have to ask Hitler for permission to use the 21st Panzer Division in a counterattack, and no-one dares wake him up.
* HeroicBSOD: That horrified look on paratrooper John Steele's face as he dangles from the Sainte-Mère-Église church belltower...
* HeroicSacrifice: Well, that wall wouldn't blow itself up...
* HollywoodNuns: At Ouistreham, a group of French nuns walk into the hotel where the French commandos are fighting from to tend to their wounded. This did not happen in real life.
* IronicEcho: The [[LaResistance Resistance]] code phrase, "Wounds my heart with a monotonous languor," gets repeated by Gen. Blumentritt when he realizes none of his superiors will do anything against the Allies landing at Normandy. He knows in that moment Germany will lose the war.
** Two characters, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort (Creator/JohnWayne) [Allies] and Major General Gunther Blumentritt (Curd Jürgens) [Germans], wonder aloud "which side God's on" to their respective subordinates.
** General Marcks, a Wehrmacht division commander, plans to assault Normandy while role-playing as General Eisenhower (the Allied commander), in the German war game in Rennes, because such a move is "inconceivable" to his colleagues. When news of the invasion comes to him, he can only look at the map and laugh at himself. When Marcks explains his attack plan to an underling, even he thinks [[DwightDEisenhower Eisenhower]] is too cautious and would never use that plan. Cut to Eisenhower meeting with his Generals to discuss the weather conditions, with Eisenhower deciding "I'm quite positive we must give the order. I don't like it, but there it is. Gentlemen, [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome I don't see how we can possibly do anything... but go."]]
** Also the aforementioned [[spoiler:DramaticGunCock]] moment. A young paratrooper lands in an isolated area, and suddenly hears somebody nearby. He instantly (as he was instructed) unpacks his little communication tool ([[http://www.windsweptpress.com/clicker.htm a.k.a. "The Cricket"]]), and gives a signal (one click-clack), and awaits two click-clacks in return, if the other person were another paratrooper. He in fact hears two click-clacks right away, and goes to greet the person in relief. Suddenly, [[spoiler:he is shot in the stomach. He manages to mutter, "Two clicks. I heard two clicks!" and dies. It turns out the mysterious person was a patrolling German. The two click-clacks the paratrooper heard was in fact the German instinctively loading and cocking his gun upon hearing the awkward click-clack sound. The contraption designed to preserve the paratrooper's life instead caused his death.]]
* ItsRainingMen: Including, unfortunately for those dropping, straight onto a heavily defended town they were supposed to land outside of, then march in to capture. And on a more humorous note, straight onto General von Salmuth's headquarters.
-->"Terribly sorry, old man. We simply landed here by accident."
* LargeHam: Priller is normally a DeadpanSnarker, but when addressing his superior, who's just informed him of the latest bureaucratic stupidity as though it were sense, he becomes a very hammy snarker.
-->"You were a lousy pilot when we flew into Russia. Now you're flying a desk and you're STILL A LOUSY PILOT!"
* MissionBriefing: Many of the Allied commanders are shown giving these.
* ModelPlanning: The French commandos use one during their MissionBriefing.
* OfficerAndAGentleman: Most of the officer characters are this, on both sides.
** "Pluskat, where are those ships heading?" "STRAIGHT FOR ME!"
** The face of Sgt. Kaffekanne (Gert Fröbe) when said ships start to bombard the beach.
* TheOner: A long overhead tracking shot of the Free French forces taking Ouistreham. It follows the troops running from cover to cover, crossing pedestrian bridges, taking fire, heading upriver toward a target that the camera eventually reveals is a casino building fortified into a massive German bunker. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzd1gCc5CO8 View it here]].
* OnlySaneMan: Blumentritt. He's the one German officer who can see this is the critical battle and tries to get his superiors to deploy the tank reserves that could stop the Allies. No-one listens to him.
* ParachuteInATree: There's a scene (BasedOnATrueStory) where a paratrooper becomes snagged on a French church spire. The real-life church at Sainte-Mère-Église now has an effigy of said paratrooper (John Steele) hanging from its steeples, as well as a stained glass window commemorating the invasion.
* PercussiveMaintenance: Captain Maud fixing a stalled Universal Carrier on the beach with a baton. The baton in the film was the genuine article used during the real landings.
* PrecisionFStrike: Col. Priller delivers one of these with just a "damned" at his superiors, who order to him to assemble his forces for a counterattack, not long after having dispersed his forces so far from the front that he has only 2 planes available.
* RoadSignReversal: A Reversed Road Sign to Sainte-Mère-Église briefly confuses invading Allied forces, until an American officer sees through the trick and orders the sign cut down.
* RousingSpeech: Several, including the one given by Brigadier General Norman Cota to his men pinned on Omaha Beach: "I don't have to tell you the story. You all know it. Only two kinds of people are gonna stay on this beach: those that are already dead and those that are gonna die. [[DareToBeBadass Now get off your butts! You guys are the Fighting 29th!]]"
* ShellShockedVeteran: Creator/RichardBurton's character is a Battle of Britain veteran who is shot down over Normandy on D-Day.
** You're driving a hay cart with two Resistance operatives hiding in the hay. You need to get past a German checkpoint. So you arrange for an insanely-hot lady Resistance fighter to arrive at the checkpoint at the same time, riding a bike, showing off cleavage with a half-unbuttoned blouse. It works like a charm.
** Later subverted when she tries the same trick to distract a late-night German patrol from discovering the explosives in the railway tracks and nearly gets killed in the process.
* TakeAThirdOption: Rommel wants to fight right on the beaches, where the Allies are most vulnerable, not strongly established on the continent, and so the Germans won't have to try and move forces towards the beach under Allied air superiority. Rundstedt wants to keep a large mobile reserve so that his tanks won't be shelled by the navy and so that he can concentrate as much force as possible. The Third Option, unusually for this trope, is not a clever improvement, but a horrible compromise. The tanks are split so that neither general has overall command and the only common link is back in Germany at Hitler's HQ, and neither plan has enough panzer divisions available so that neither can really be carried out.
** Averted with most German officers who have speaking roles in the movie; they are professional military men who are focused on carrying out their missions.
** Well, most of them. All of those who didn't run off to play war-games or attending birthday parties. The German officers left for war games that had been scheduled for months. Considering the foul weather they didn't expect Eisenhower to give the order.
** Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt refuses to ask AdolfHitler for permission to release the Wehrmacht's Panzer reserves, declaring that he would not "bow" to "that Bohemian corporal", ''diesen böhmischen Gefreiter?!'' Hitler had it set up so that only he could order the reserve Panzer divisions to move. The refusal to wake him on D-Day was costly to put it mildly. Though that's only what Blumentritt ''thinks'' to have happened. In reality, when Hitler woke up, he was more cheerful than ever about the invasion, because now he was actually able to reach the allied army for the first time in that war, and crush them... theoretically. (Not only he didn't manage that... the Soviets got him first.) He was so happy, that he started dancing and fell back into his original alpine Austrian dialect: ''O'ganga is! (It's on!)''. But why did he not set the Panzer reserves free? Nobody knows for fact. Even the historians wonder. The best the historians can figure is that Hitler was still convinced the Allies would send a ''larger'' invasion force at Calais, ignoring the obvious size of the force at Normandy. There's also the possibility that Hitler believed the Americans to be weak and soft enough that the troops already deployed could handle it, despite all the ass-kicking that had already taken place in Africa and Sicily.
** Actor Curt Jürgens, in his role as the German General Blumentritt, calls the German generals incompetent. Jürgens was actually imprisoned by the Nazis in his youth, so this might be considered a bit of TakeThat.
** The only time the phrase "Sieg Heil!" appears in the movie is graffiti on a bunker wall in Ouistreham.
** A slower, slightly mournful version of the main theme is heard played by an RAF man on a piano in an early scene.
** And later one of the soldiers waiting on the ships plays it on his harmonica.
* TitleDrop: When Rommel is discussing the need for building up mass defenses along the French shoreline: that Germany needs to repel any landing before the Allies can secure a firm foothold.
-->'''Rommel :''' Believe me, gentlemen, the first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive. For the Allies as well as the Germans, it will be the longest day... The longest day.
** TruthInTelevision as Rommel really did say this phrase, although without the dramatic repeat at the end.
* VillainBall / ThisIsYourBrainOnEvil: Hitler
** The paratroopers crashing into Sainte-Mère-Église. The paratrooper caught on the belltower (John Steele, played by RedButtons) can only dangle and watch in horror as his fellow jumpers get mowed down. [[RealLifeWritesThePlot It really happened that way, too.]]
** Omaha Beach. Just... damn. The memorial on Omaha Beach is actually kind of Real Life Tear Jerker in itself (No matter that you smirk a bit when you have to go through metal detectors and checkout in order to enter it. And the fact that when you compare the giant memorial for US soldiers to memorials of other nation armies, which makes irony almost unbearable) -- it is nothing but cemetery. Stand in the middle and you can't see the ends.
** The Utah Beach unit climbing the cliffs to get at the big guns overlooking half the beach-head reach their objectives [[spoiler:only to find the Germans hadn't installed the guns into their bunkers yet. "You mean we climbed all this way... for nothing?"]] In RealLife it got worse when those secured positions were fired on by the warships anchored off-shore.
*** In RealLife it wasn't for nothing. The Germans had moved the guns inland prior to the invasion and the US Rangers found and destroyed them.
*** Between this scene and a scene in which one of the Rangers shoots two German soldiers attempting to surrender, many Ranger veterans were quite upset with their portrayal in this film, as they felt they'd been unfairly singled out to deliver the WarIsHell message.
** "He's dead. I'm crippled. You're lost. Do you suppose it's always like that? I mean war."
* WorthyOpponent: Most German soldiers. Special props to the ''two Luftwaffe pilots available'', whom even a British officer admired.