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Awesome / The Longest Day

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  • Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel inspecting the Atlantic Wall's defenses at the beginning.
    Gen. von Salmuth: The work has completely exhausted out troops.
    Rommel: My dear General von Salmuth... Which would your troops rather be... exhausted or dead?
    • Then his motivation speech about the Allies preparing landings over the sea and the day this will happen.
      Rommel: The first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive... The fate of Germany depends on the outcome... For the Allies, as well as Germany, it will be the Longest Day. The Longest Day.
      (cue the movie's title and the first eight bars of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony)
  • Being based on a historical Moment of Awesome, this film has quite a few. Col. Pluskat, spotting the Allied invasion fleet bearing right down on him, shouting on his phone, "You know those five thousand ships you said they don't have? THEY'VE GOT THEM!"
    • The fact that the real Werner Pluskat was actually a military consultant for the film only makes that scene all the more awesome.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower - against his own cautious nature - gives the order to go. This is so audacious a move for him that the German officer trained to play as Eisenhower for war games didn't think the Allied commander would do it.
    • Not related to the movie but in Real Life, Eisenhower wrote two letters to be read. One to the troops, commending them on taking a risky operation. The second was a letter in case the invasion failed, in which Eisenhower was willing to accept the blame ("It is mine alone.") The second letter was never read because Normandy was successful, and was almost discarded except for a junior officer who found it. The second letter - highlighting the responsibility of leadership - became just as famous as the first letter.
  • General Roosevelt, upon finding his Utah Beach landing is too far off-course, decides to "Start the war from right here" and guides the rest of his forces to that spot. In Real Life he even reconned the area with minimum cover, risking his life. His decision proved right as the improvised landing site was actually easier to deploy troops than the planned site.
    • He insisted on leading the landing himself - even with his frail health that would kill him a month later.
      • He was to be promoted to be a two-star general in recognition of assuming command of a division. When General Bradley called his headquarters to tell him that he has been promoted, he was informed that Roosevelt had died around midnight the preceding night.
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    • Though not mentioned in the film, Roosevelt was actually awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on D-Day.
    • Well, considering whose son he was should we have expected any less?
  • General Cota, Roosevelt's counterpart on Omaha Beach, inspiring his men to push on even when things seemed hopeless. Much of Robert Mitchum's dialogue is word-for-word what Cota said in Real Life, and he is also credited with coining the Ranger Creednote  that day.
  • The bagpiper Bill Millin. The Real Life counterpart later met with captured German snipers and found out none of them would shoot at him because they all thought he was too crazy to be marching about playing that thing.
  • The Free French commandos retaking Ouistreham. To elaborate, they charge through the town, cutting down everything in their path until they're finally stopped by a well fortified position with an anti-tank gun and a number of machine-gun nests. The Major in command runs back out of the town, through the killzone, to find a tank to help them break the stalemate. while he's gone, a bunch of elderly nuns walk all the way to the french commandos' position to provide first aid. Then the major comes back with the tank and it's all over for the germans. Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys my ass.
    • The sequence opens with one of the most jaw-dropping oners in film history, as the camera tracks the rising battle across town, with bullets flying, explosions going off, all in one continuous, almost minute-long shot.
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  • The D-Day landings as a whole are a CMoA for every Allied soldier - American, Canadian, British, French - who participated. Those who survived and those who didn't.
  • John Howard as his troops holding Pegasus Bridge - "Hold until relieved."
  • A team of engineers - led by Jeffrey Hunter - under constant fire rig up explosives to blow a hole into the Omaha Beach barrier. They all die in the attempt but Hunter lives long enough to detonate the explosives, opening a big enough gap for the Americans to charge in and win the day.
  • Luftwaffe Colonel Josef Priller. With his entire air wing having been moved back the day before to airfields out of range of the beaches, the only two German fighter aircraft available on D-Day were his own and his wingman's, Sergeant Heinz Wodarczyk. And so the two of them flew out — by themselves — to do an air attack on the entire Allied invasion. The two FW-190s strafed Sword, Juno, and Omaha beaches, while flying through the combined antiaircraft fire of every ship in the invasion fleet, until they ran out of ammo and returned to base unharmed. The comment of one of the British sailors witnessing this;
    Leading Stoker Robert Dowie, HMS Dunbar: Jerry or not, the best of luck to you. You've got guts.
    • "The Luftwaffe has had its finest moment!"
    • And that really happened. Though not portrayed in the film, they were also both badly hungover at the time. Believing that the weather conditions would be too bad for flying, they spent the previous evening getting drunk.
  • At the first bombardment, one of the locals goes nuts with happiness and starts waving a French flag, even as some of the shells hit his house.
  • Colonel Benjamin Vandervoot (played by John Wayne) breaks his ankle parachuting into France. His response? "Put the boot back on and lace it up tight." He then proceeds to gather up his scattered men and lead them to accomplish their objectives while limping along on a broken leg and using a rifle as a crutch.
  • Real Life example: During the filming of the landings at Omaha Beach, the American soldiers appearing as extras didn't want to jump off the landing craft into the water because they thought it would be too cold. Robert Mitchum, who played Gen. Norm Cota, was so disgusted with them that he jumped in first, at which point the soldiers had no choice but to follow his example.
  • Janine Boitard (Irina Demick) letting herself be caught by the German patrols at the rail bridge so the rest of her comrades from La Résistance and their French commando allies can sabotage the line. And when the guard holding her suspects something is up and tries to stop the approaching train of reinforcements, she attacks him to prevent him from giving the warning, despite being unarmed and nearly dying in the process.
    • The real Boitard also saved the lives of more than a few Allied airmen by smuggling them through occupied France throughout the war, and was among the survivors who contributed to the making of the film.


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