Trivia / The Longest Day

  • 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. Some like Sean Connery had not yet hit mainstream attention, and some others are almost unnoticeable such as Clint Eastwood, who plays a US ranger.
  • Artistic License History:
    • 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.
    • Averted when a scene where German soldiers are seen running out of the café near that bridge wasn't shot, as one of the owners insisted vehemently she had never allowed Germans to sleep there.
    • The casino of Ouistreham was blown up by the Germans in 1943 and a bunker was built in its place. The movie's casino is still intact with the ground floor turned into a bunker. And it didn't look like the real casino to begin with.
  • As Himself:
    • 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 by another actor in the movie! There is a picture of Richard Todd, as John Howard, posing next to the other actor, as Richard Todd.
    • Another almost with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower actually would have played himself except he looked too old for his younger self from two decades before so the idea was scrapped.
    • Played straight with Joseph Lowe, one of the cliff climbers at Utah Beach who reprised his efforts for the movie.
  • 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.
    • As a 22-year-old private, Joseph Lowe landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day with the Second Ranger Battalion and scaled the cliffs at Point-Du-Hoc. He scaled those 100-foot cliffs all over again, for the cameras, some 17 years later.
  • The Danza:
    • Sort of. Gen. James Gavin, played by Robert Ryan, was actually born James Ryan, but put up for adoption at age two, and adopted by Martin and Mary Gavin at age seven.
    • Richard Burton plays Richard Campbell.
  • Dawson Casting John Wayne as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort. The real Benjamin Vandervoort was 12 years younger than Wayne, and on D-Day he had been just 27, while Wayne was 54 when the movie was filmed.
  • Deleted Role: Dewey Martin, whose character was named Lt. Wilder, was deleted from the final cut.
  • Director Displacement: Given five people did the thing simultaneously, doesn't surprise producer Darryl F. Zanuck gets more focus than all of them.
  • Money, Dear Boy: This was one of several high-profile projects which John Wayne took in the wake of the extremely expensive The Alamo. He had used his own funds to help finance the project, and he was in desperate need of a quick payday.
  • Playing Against Type: Red Buttons usually played goofy comic-relief or funny hero types. Here, while there's some humor with him, his main scene is one of the film's most horrific parts.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Richard Burton and Roddy McDowall asked for small roles to spare the boredom after Cleopatra was delayed... AGAIN.
    • Sean Connery, on the other hand, also has a small role because he was eager to get off to Jamaica and begin filming Dr. No.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Before he became famous, Loriot got cast by Bernhard Wicki in an uncredited bit-part as a junior Wehrmacht staff officer.
  • Screwed by the Network: Averted - Fox was planning on just doing a quick wide release to earn some cash they needed to offset their pre-release losses from Cleopatra. Darryl Zanuck threatened to bringThe Longest Day to Warner Bros. if they didn't do a proper roadshow release, and Fox had to comply. (it still was the box office hit the studio needed)
  • Throw It In: While clearing a section of the Normandy beach near Pointe du Hoc, the film crew found a tank used in the invasion. They cleaned it up and used it for the British Invasion scenes.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Christopher Lee, who fought in the War as an intelligence officer with the RAF, auditioned for any role he could get. He was turned down because the producers felt he didn't look like a military officer.
    • This was made just after Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency and the producers very nearly cast Eisenhower to play himself. They abandoned the idea because he was too old, though.
    • John Wayne's role was originally offered to Charlton Heston.
    • Alec Guinness was sought for a cameo.
    • The part of the British padre was first offered to Dirk Bogarde, who turned it down.
    • Brigitte Bardot and Marina Vlady turned down the role of Janine Boitard.

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