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Ten classic films about D-day, recommended by a war historian

The allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, commonly known as D-day, was an enormously significant moment in the history of the second world war.

Commanded by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, D-day began the liberation from Nazi rule of France (followed in turn by the rest of western Europe). This fact, together with the sheer scale and drama of the event itself, has made it a persistent subject of commemoration, as this year’s 80th-anniversary events will again make apparent.

D-day has also drawn the attention of numerous filmmakers over the years. Here are ten of the best D-day films, each suggestive of the invasion’s prominent place in international memory.

  1. True Glory (1945)

All the nations involved in the second world war produced propaganda. True Glory is a notable example of the approach adopted by the western allies.

True Glory film shot

A combined Anglo-American endeavour (much like D-day itself), the film – which was released shortly after the war ended – is introduced by General Eisenhower and was the 1945 winner of the Academy Award for best documentary feature. It starts with the D-day landings in Normandy and then follows the march of the allied army through Europe.

  1. Breakthrough (1950)

The war film emerged as a popular genre in postwar Hollywood with several notable features produced in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Breakthrough is one example. It follows a newly graduated infantry officer, Lieutenant Joe Mallory (played by John Agar), as he leads an experienced platoon of the 1st Infantry Division, an American unit that played a central role in the D-day landings at Omaha Beach.

  1. D-Day: The Sixth of June (1956)

This film put D-day in its very title. Based on a book by Canadian writer Lionel Shapiro, at its centre is a love triangle involving a British officer (Lieutenant Colonel Wynter, played by Richard Todd), an American officer (Captain Brad Parker, played by Robert Taylor) and a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (Valerie Russell, played by Dana Wynter).

D-Day film shot


For the full article by Dr Sam Edwards visit the Conversation.


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 24/69

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