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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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, and on D-Day he had been just 27, while Wayne was 54 when the movie was filmed.
  • Director Displacement: Given five people did the thing simultaneously, doesn't surprise producer Darryl F. Zanuck gets more focus than all of them.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
    • Besides the ones mentioned below, there's Red Buttons, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Fabian, Robert Wagner, Richard Dawson...
    • Also cartoonist and comedian Loriot in an uncredited bit part as a German staff officer.
    • Two German actors were future James Bond villains:
      • Gert Fröbe — best known for playing the title role in Goldfinger — as the German sergeant "Kaffeekanne" (coffee-pot), who rides his horse to the beach every morning to bring coffee to the troops.
      • Curd Jürgens (credited here as Curt Jürgens) — who played Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me — as Major General Günther Blumentritt.
      • The first James Bond himself, Sean Connery, is one of the British soldiers landing on Sword beach.
    • Wolfgang Preiss as General Pemsel. He became almost ubiquitous in WWII films, appearing in The Train, Von Ryan's Express, Is Paris Burning?, A Bridge Too Far and The Winds of War, among others. Of course, European audiences at the time probably recognized Preiss as Dr. Mabuse.
    • André 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.
    • Austrian actor Dietmar Schönherr, best known as Major McLane from Raumpatrouille, has a small part as a Luftwaffe major.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Roddy McDowall asked for a small role to spare his 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 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.