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« "Casting is destiny" | Main | Bridge of Spies: The lawyerly intelligence of Tom Hanks and how being able to tell a good story won the Cold War »


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El Jefe

Re: Brits you missed Richard Burton's part as the (can you spoil a fifty-four-year-old movie?) dying RAF pilot. And there were a few fairly substantial French and German stars (isn't Kurt Jurgens in there? Granted he was as big a star playing Germans in British films -- long before Spy Who Loved Me -- as he was in postwar German cinema; and there's Arletty, one of the last big female stars of the Mistinguette generation from French cabaret, as the Resistance woman.) And at that point in his career Kenneth More (the British beachmaster) was not first-tier but very, very solidly second (inbetween his famous turns in Night To Remember and Dark of the Sun.) Still surprised they didn't get Rod Taylor to play someone buff and British (maybe Warrant Officer Stan Hollis, the only Victoria Cross winner at Sword Beach?)

As a matter of pure but glorious trivia Georges Riviere, who plays Guy de Riviere (one of the French commandos at the casino -- God that tracking shot, one of the best things ever done in a war movie, up there with the frontal assault in Paths of Glory and the beach in Private Ryan -- and something of a French Audie Murphy, he's not the unit commander Kieffer but has a speaking part)left France to be a big star in Argentinian films of the Fifties and Sixties, which sounds like something out of Hail, Caesar! but is nevertheless true.

Now that I've gone on this jag I will have to return to the article but I think you may have missed Henry Fonda -- huge indeed -- as Teddy Junior. (Norm Cota was the perfect part for Mitchum, the real Cota was basically a shorter, less-handsome Mitchum.)

Garner may already have been busy with his own D-Day movie, one much more suited to his own sentiments (Garner being a twice-wounded infantryman in Korea): The Americanization of Emily.

A better question for you, and it's an underrated film (the best parts are the British ones because in that case they and the Poles really are the heart of the Allied story), would revolve around Big Short vs. A Bridge Too Far. Almost as a reaction, perhaps, to Longest Day, Bridge was absolutely weighed down with star power. Perhaps too much given the director (can't think who) wasn't as good at weaving the story together as in Longest Day. And in that Connery has graduated, via Bond and Man Who Would Be King (the Oscar he should've had, per Stallone discussions in previous threads) to Maj. Gen. Roy Urquhart, the British boss at the bridges (and, like Mitchum as Cota, was well cast.) The krauts there include Maximillian Schell and Hardy Kruger (near their career peaks) and even the Dutch get Lord Larry Hisownself and Liv Ullmann, very much at her peak.

El Jefe

Admission and correction: I see you did mention Fonda. His part's not *that* brief, though :)

I think some of the casting was deliberate: to their credit, they wanted as many "common man" parts as possible, and for that they went to character actors. A reasonable and in some ways admirable decision.

Btw here's that whole sequence at Ouistreham tracking shot and all:

Think about filming that on location -- the actual location -- closer to the events than we are now to the first season of "Friends." Gives you chills.

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