Engineers are seen removing explosives from the Orne Bridge. In reality they hadn't been placed in their slots when the gliders landed. Zanuck chose to ignore Howard's telling him this for the sake of drama.
However, a scene where German soldiers are seen running out of the cafe near that bridge wasn't done, as one of the owners insisted vehemently she had never allowed Germans to sleep there.
All-Star Cast: If you were an A-List male actor in Hollywood in 1962, you have at least a bit part in this film. Plus a couple well-known British, French and German actors.
Almost. Actor Richard Todd plays John Howard, the Major whose unit secures Pegasus Bridge. One of the relief units coming to their aid was led by Captain Richard Todd!
Played straight with Joseph Lowe, one of the cliff climbers at Utah Beach who reprised his efforts for the movie.
Also played straight by Bill Millin, the bagpiper with Lord Lovat's commandos.
Backed by the Pentagon: About 23.000(!) real US, British and French soldiers were used as extras in the movie. They also rented two Messerschmitts from the Spanish air force and four Spitfires from the Belgian air force.
Cast the Expert: Richard Todd, who plays Major Howard of the British Airborne, was a British paratrooper during the war and actually took part in the D-Day landings — in fact, he was initially approached to play himself in the film.
Dawson Casting: John Wayne as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort. The real Benjamin Vandervoort was 12 years younger than Wayne when the movie was made. He was actually just 27 during D-Day, when Wayne was 54 when the movie was filmed.
Andre Bourvil playing the Mayor of Colleville. Bourvil was a popular French comedy star, though he occasionally played against type in dramatic roles. International viewers might recognize him best from The Red Circle.
Life Imitates Art: The code names given to some of the objectives (Pegasus Bridge, Utah, Omaha, Juno, and Sword Beaches) have been retained to this day.