It's a shame that The Longest Day is only a passable movie - it could've been an all-time great if it had a different writer. The screenwriter, Cornelius Ryan, was the author of a historical book that formed the basis for the film. Bad idea putting a historian in the driver's seat - if he had been riding shotgun with a professional screenwriter, the movie would have been completely different.
The Longest Day suffers from three writing-related faults:
1: Clunky or arbitrary dialogue in many segments. One example occurs when a soldier is shot after mistaking a rifle being cocked for a "clicker". "I heard two clicks" are his passing words. Another instance can be found when a soldier opines that he "came all the way up for nothing" after seizing an empty bunker.
2: Lack of characterization. Too bad there are so many great actors in the movie - we hardly get to know any of them. Even if there are Loads And Loads Of Characters
, it's a three hour film and most of the cast members only get a few minutes of screentime.
3: Lack of carnage. I know censors were far more stringent 50 years ago, but the level of bloodshed is never really insinuated in the dialogue. The Normandy Landings were exceptionally bloody and none of that is conveyed in the film.
It does have advantages. For instance, it depicts the broad selection of nations that took part in the invasion and offers exceptional cinematography and a surprising number of laugh out loud moments. Even if Saving Private Ryan
better illustrates the effects of war, The Longest Day beats Spielberg's flag-waving ass any day of the week and twice on Tuesday. The very combined presence of Henry Fonda and Sean Connery in a movie is enough to send Matt Damon home crying. Besides, this movie appeals to MEN - not gore-hungry teenies.