June 6 marks the 77th anniversary of D-Day. Also known as the Normandy Landings, D-Day remembers the soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, to liberate Western Europe from Nazi occupation and end World War II.
D-Day marked the beginning of the Battle of Normandy, where Allied forces invaded the coast of France; the battle lasted from June 6, 1944, until late August 1944. On D-Day alone, around 4,400 Allied troops died while 9,000 were wounded or missing.
To honor the brave soldiers who invaded the beaches of Normandy in 1944, here are 10 D-Day movies to watch this weekend.
D-Day movies: Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg’s epic war film, Saving Private Ryan, takes place during the Battle of Normandy. Tom Hanks stars as Captain John H. Miller. He and his squad search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), the last surviving son of his family. The film includes appearances from Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies.
The film’s premise is based on the true story of the Niland Brothers (Edward, Preston, Robert, and Frederick) who fought in World War II. The U.S. War Department created a new policy, “Sole-Surviving Son,” where soldiers who were the surviving members of their family would be protected from military duty. This policy worked to protect Sargent Frederick Niland, who inspired Saving Private Ryan.
While the film is known for its graphic portrayal of war, the story emotionally and realistically captures the sacrifices soldiers made during World War II.
Watch Saving Private Ryan on Amazon Prime.
D-Day movies: The Longest Day (1962)
Based on Cornelius Ryan’s non-fiction novel of the same name, The Longest Day follows the events before D-Day leading to the invasion of Normandy. The film stars a large international cast, including John Wayne, Kenneth More, Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, and Steve Forrest. The cast also includes Axis and Allied military personnel who served in WWII, ranging from former German General Günther Blumentritt to American General James M. Gavin.
Although the movie has a running time of almost three hours, it thoroughly documents the events of the Battle of Normandy from both the Allied and Axis perspectives.
Watch The Longest Day on YouTube.
D-Day movies: The Americanization of Emily (1964)
The Americanization of Emily adds a romantic spin to the classic epic war film. James Garner plays American Lieutenant Commander Charlie Madison, unwilling to fight on the Normandy shores during D-Day. After falling in love with British widower Emily (Julie Andrews), Charlie is fatefully tasked as the first sailor to enter the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
With a touch of comedy and drama, plus the lovely chemistry between James Garner and Julie Andrews, this D-Day movie conveys how the destruction from World War II profoundly affected both the men and women involved.
Julie Andrews and James Garner in THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY. pic.twitter.com/EW7LzzojR1
— TCM (@tcm) October 30, 2019
Watch The Americanization of Emily on Amazon Prime.
D-Day movies: Overlord (1975)
Stuart Cooper’s British film Overlord follows a young British soldier’s experiences with military training that lead him to the front lines on D-Day. With cinematography by John Alcott, the story weaves archival war footage throughout the movie. The movie goes on to show the devastation and sacrifices made during World War II.
Watch Overlord on Amazon Prime.
D-Day movies: 36 Hours (1965)
In the war thriller 36 Hours, a German army doctor manipulates an American Army military intelligence doctor in releasing vital information about World War II. The film begins days before D-Day, where U.S. Army Major Jefferson Pike gets abducted and transported to Germany. When Jefferson wakes up in a hospital, a German psychiatrist convinces him that it is May 1950 and the war is over. In reality, it is June 2, 1944.
The film is based on the Roald Dahl short story Beware of the Dog and stars James Garner, Rod Taylor, and Eva Marie Saint.
Watch 36 Hours on Amazon Prime.
D-Day movies: Band of Brothers (2001)
While Band of Brothers is technically not a film, the HBO miniseries tells the important story of the Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, during World War II. The series follows Easy Company through the American airborne landings in Normandy until the end of the war.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks served as executive producers to bring Stephen E. Ambrose‘s book of the same name to television. Throughout the episodes, the miniseries incorporates excerpts from interviews with surviving members of Easy Company.
Check out Hollywood.com’s coverage of the miniseries premiere below:
Watch Band of Brothers on HBO Max.
D-Day movies: The Battle of Normandy: 85 Days in Hell (2019)
The Battle of Normandy: 85 Days in Hell is a TV documentary that shares archival footage of the Battle of Normandy over three months. Directed by Guilain Depardieu, the documentary begins on D-Day and ends with the final Nazi surrender. The film includes interviews from Canadian, American, and British experts, giving viewers an inside look into the violent battle.
— Smithsonian Channel (@SmithsonianChan) November 12, 2019
Watch The Battle of Normandy: 85 Days in Hell on Paramount+.
No matter what film you choose to watch, D-Day is a time to remember the soldiers who risked their lives when landing on the shores of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
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