Monday, June 06, 2005

Just Because the Number of Elapsed Years is Not Evenly Divisible by Five...

The D in D-Day stood for "Day." And you know what they called the time it started (I think 6:30 AM)? H-Hour. You can infer what the "H" stood for. There were H-Hours and D-Days all over the world, but the one in Normandy is the one that has been associated with that term in the decades since.

If you haven't read Stephen Ambrose's "D-Day" and its sequel, "Citizen Soldiers," both are very readable page-turners. If you read the book or saw "Band of Brothers" on HBO or video, these two books feature the BoB characters (real-life characters, that is) and show how they fit into the larger picture.

Also, Cornelius Ryan's classic "The Longest Day" is a shorter book, but is another good starting point if you want to learn about D-Day goings on. Ryan wrote that book in the late 50s, and it was made into an all-star movie (one of my faves) in 1962. As far as I know, it was the first war movie that had actors from the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany portraying characters from those same countries and speaking the language appropriate to their characters. ("Grand Illusion" might be another, now that I think about it. I'll have to verify later.)

The book "TLD" is part of a trilogy that also includes "A Bridge Too Far" about Operation Market-Garden, and "The Last Battle" about the push to Berlin. "ABTF" was made into an all-star epic in the mid-70s, when the U.S. was in a different mood than the early 60s.

Moviewise, "TLD" ended on an optimistic note, because the Normandy landings were successful, but also because the standard war movie was still very gung-ho. "ABTF" was a lot harder to follow in terms of what was going on, who was where, etc. which could be a metaphor for the confusing battle(s) depicted. It did not end on a very optimistic note at all. Market-Garden (an attempt to drop tens of thousands of paratroopers in a line leading up a key road to an important port) did not work the way Gen. Montgomery planned it, and depending on whom you believe, it was either a disaster or a limited success. Or if you believed Monty, it was just that you didn't understand what he was doing in the first place. I think the post-Vietnam moviegoing public was looking for a more 70s-ish, cynical view of war than the 1962-3 audience, and that was what "ABTF" was able to give them.

As far as I know, Sean Connery is the only actor to appear in both. He's still working of course, so if they decided to adapt "The Last Battle" to the big screen, he could still make an appearance.

Also moviewise, IMDB does not include German actor Oskar Werner in its listings for "TLD" despite his supporting role as a German general. Looks like some people just aren't anal-retentive enough.

Maybe more D-Day stuff later tonight. Now, time for work.


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