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The Longest Day (1962) - Blu-ray Review


5 stars

The Greatest War Picture Ever Made…

That one sentence often accompanies many reviews, lists, and assessments about Darryl F. Zanuck’s 1962 epic, honouring of D-Day. Before it had even rolled a frame of film, this film was in trouble. 20th Century Fox was in financial ruin, thanks to Elizabeth Taylor’s star vehicle Cleopatra, and the studio board was cleaning house. After an impassioned presentation by Zanuck, the former head of the studio was back in control again and The Longest Day was a go picture, with a caveat that is it exceeded its 8 million dollar budget by one penny, production would be halted. Zanuck ended up added 2 million of his own money.

Epic is a word thrown about with reckless regard in these times of CGI and movie magic of unprecedented authenticity, but back then there were no computer generated images, everything had to be captured in camera. So three directors: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, and Bernhard Wicki split the duties of capturing the British, American, and German sides of the story up respectively. Together, they captured the emotions of all fronts and the terrible spectacle of the Normandy invasion in the most expensive black and white movie ever made (at the time) with jaw dropping skill. There are some truly amazing shots in this film, not only in their sheer intricacy but in their scale.

Crammed to its brim with stars of the day—some in unpaid cameos—the film boasts the likes of John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Roddy McDowell, Red Buttons, Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Wagner; there’s even a small role for about to be mega-famous Sean Connery, who also made his debut as James Bond in 1962. They deliver fine performances, one and all.

The story, unlike a lot of war films, takes its time to show all sides planning, preparing, and contemplating the impending conflict. Some of the writing is a bit old hat, some might say a bit self-referential, but the performers deliver it with such authenticity those few oversights can be forgiven easily.

There are moments of the old Hollywood style of death, with the clutch to chest, grimace, and fall method recounted in so many westerns and war flicks of the time, but by and large there has never been another film, not even Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, that exceed the sheer volume and intricacy of the stunt work captured in camera. It certainly doesn’t push boundaries with graphic, in your face, violence like modern fair, but effectively conveys the horror those soldiers on both sides endured on D-Day.

This film was Zanuck’s apex, both in his career and his life. It was a dream he had long harboured, to honour those who fought to retake Europe and defeat the Nazis at great cost, and willed into being powerfully. It is a remarkable piece of cinema, a war film that doesn’t glorify war despite its mission to honour fallen heroes, and one that dares to question in its narrative the failings of all of us as human beings. It is technically brilliant and awe-inspiring to watch. It is narratively brilliant, evocative, and satisfying. It is a success beyond comparison. Darryl F. Zanuck created 20th Century Fox, already quite a legacy, but unlike the studios of today, he was as brilliant creatively as he was at business. This is testament to that.


[tab title="Film Details"]

The Longest Day (1962) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: G.
178 mins
: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton
Cornelius Ryan
John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Richard Burton
: War | Military
Memorable Movie Quote: "Yeah, it takes an Irishman to play the pipes."
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 4, 1962
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 2, 2014
Synopsis: The events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

The Longest Day (1962) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 2, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin (Traditional)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: Dolby Digital 4.0 (Original); French: Dolby Digital Mono; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (1 BD, 2 DVDs); DVD copy
Region Encoding: A

Absolutely stunning MPEG-4 AVC transfer. This is as good as it gets. The most impressive black and white restoration/transfer this reviewer has ever laid eyes on. There are some soft shots but not many; most of the time you can see every thread on a uniform, every detail there is to see. Effects don’t hold up to this level of clarity, but this adds to the charm of the period. Rich contrast, deep inky blacks, this picture is a thing of beauty.

Sound is a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD mix. One of the best mixes I’ve heard from the period, with immersion not reaching modern standards but providing directionality and ambience effectively. The sounds of the battles, especially, put you in the movie and work all the speakers well.

Extras are all ported over from previous releases, including many documentaries from many different sources, covering the history of the production and its subject matter. There is commentary from the only surviving director Ken Annakin, and a second by Professor Mary Corey, an expert on post World War 2. This edition comes in an attractive and sturdy steelbook presentation.



  • 2 Commentary tracks, first one with Mary Corey. Second one features c0-director Ken Annakin

Special Features:

  • A Day to Remember
  • The Longest Day: A Salute to Courage
  • Backstory - The Longest Day
  • D-Day Revisited
  • Darryl F. Zanuck: A Dream Fulfilled
  • The Longest Day
  • Patton
  • Tora! Tora! Tora!


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