Tag Archives: Curd Jürgens

The Longest Day (1962) 4.71/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 88.4
Genre: War
Duration: 178 mins
Director: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Darryl F. Zanuck
Stars: Robert MitchumRichard BurtonHenry Fonda

Very likely the best of all the WWII movies, The Longest Day is a masterful account of the preparation for and execution of the largest land and sea military action in history: D-Day. Starring practically every available movie star of its day and directed by a crew of directors including an unaccredited Darryl F. Zanuck, it’s a logistical achievement worthy of the momentous day it’s chronicling. All the major elements of Allied invasion are represented with John Wayne and Robert Mitchum taking on the roles of the commanders of the front line divisions, the former of the airborne, the latter of the marines. Robert Ryan, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, and Richard Todd also feature but more peripherally, the latter excelling as leader of a British commando unit. The Germans are represented in force too (with Curd Jürgens doing particularly well) as the action constantly switches back and forth between both sides.

Needless to say the acting is first rate with Mitchum especially standing out as the beleaguered general of those who were always going to be the hardest hit as they stormed the beaches. The battle sequences involving him and his men are by far the most thrilling and rightly so given how relevant they were to the entire invasion. That said, there isn’t a single battle sequence in The Longest Day which won’t have you on the edge of your seat and what’s more, they are all entirely different to each other in both logistics and execution. However, during all the back and forth shifting between battle sequences, it still finds the time for moments of quiet reflection and the tone which it sets during these moments is deeply affecting.

The most impressive feature of the film is without a doubt the fact that at all times, The Longest Day never fails to intertwine the role and perspective of the individual soldiers with the broader strategic advancements of their respective units. The later A Bridge Too Far did this too when chronicling Market Garden but not as well as it’s done here. The Longest Day puts us right in the middle of the action so that we feel intimately familiar with the ebb and flow of the advance and it’s thrilling stuff. The film is shot magnificently and even though the US, British, and German episodes are all helmed by different directors, there’s a seamless look and feel to the whole thing. Overall, The Longest Day is a captivating piece of cinema which shows great deference to the momentous events of that day. There are some fine movies which focus on the same events but none are as comprehensively great as this.

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The Enemy Below (1957) 4.43/5 (1)


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Rating: The Good – 83.8
Genre: War
Duration: 98 mins
Director: Dick Powell
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Curd Jürgens, David Hedison

Actor Dick Powell stepped behind the camera to serve up this timeless and expertly crafted WWII naval drama about two captains engaged in a battle of wits above and below the water respectively. Robert Mitchum plays the captain of the US destroyer who is supposed to be convalescing on an easy assignment after spending weeks adrift in the North Atlantic after his previous ship had been sunk. However, after unexpectedly encountering a German U-boat, he enters into a compelling game of cat and mouse with a German counterpart who shares every bit of his skill and acumen.

Mitchum gives a more reserved performance than his usual star vehicles offer but, ever the consummate movie star, his screen presence still works a treat. Mitchum belonged to that small group of stars who owned the camera when it was on him and The Enemy Below is no different. Curd Jürgens is equally good as the war-weary U-boat commander and the two do a fine job in playing off each other as mutually respecting opponents. Powell deserves a lot of credit too as he constructs one immense torpedo and depth-charge laden battle sequence after another. The photography is splendid whether above or below the water and Powell’s use of sound particularly in the underwater sequences is inspired. He also strikes a composed balance between the taut and quiet moments, efficiently using the latter segments to flesh out the personalities of the various support players.

However, it is Wendell Mayes’ adaptation of D.A. Rayner’s novel which provides the finishing touch to this epic because, without a doubt, the standout strength of this movie is the cleverness of the tactical and mental interchanges shared between the two captains. It’s in these moments that each of this film’s components come together so seamlessly to produce the type of spellbinding submarine action that has really only been since equalled by McTiernan’s The Hunt for Red October, if at all.