14 Best D-Day Movies (According To IMDb) | ScreenRant

It has been more than 75 years since the D-Day invasions changed the course of World War II and the events of that day changed the world forever. Such an iconic moment in history meant that Hollywood would get inspired to produce a number of films that reference D-Day in an attempt to pay homage to it.

RELATED: 10 Best World War II Movies, Ranked

IMDb is a source that ranks and scores almost every film that has ever been produced, including films about D-Day. It’s fascinating to see just how many films about the subject were made, and how they achieved their individual scores. Whether they’re for history experts or complete novices, there’s something for everyone in these movies.

Updated on August 24th, 2021 by Derek Draven: Operation Overlord was certainly the most pivotal moment of World War II, and if it had failed, the world might have looked very different today. The heroism of the D-Day vets who stormed the beaches on that day would live on in the hearts and minds of generations for all time, and that meant immortalizing it on film. Some of the best D-Day movies are fictional adventure films, while others try to stay as close to authentic as possible. WWII buffs in particular will find a lot to love about these films, all of which offer a different perspective on D-Day.

14 D-Day The Sixth Of June (1956) – 6.0

• Available to rent on AppleTV

Romantic dramas taking place during wartime got their start with movies like this one. Robert Taylor, Richard Todd, and Dana Wynter star in a story about an American and British soldier who each share memories of their romance with the lovely Valerie Russell.

To his credit, Richard Todd was an actual D-Day vet; a member of the 7th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment who actually made contact with Major Howard at the Orne Bridge. It’s an impressive casting choice, even if the actual battle in question occurs in the final minutes of the film.

13 Storming Juno (2010) – 6.7

• Available to rent on Prime Video

Most D-Day movies and content focus largely on the conflict that took place on Omaha beach, but military buffs know the event was a multi-pronged assault. The second-most famous beach was Juno, which this docudrama film attempted to showcase, with solid results.

The film switches focus from American forces to the Canadian soldiers who stormed that particular beach. It tells the story from the perspective of several soldiers involved in the paratroop brigade, tank crew, and front line infantry, offering different glimpses into what unfolded on that fateful day.

12 Breakthrough (1950) – 6.7

WWII movies of the ’50s have a particular feel and aesthetic, considering many of them were written, directed, and performed by people who actually lived to see it. Often, these movies feature quirky details that reflect their genuine experience, adding to their innate charm.

Breakthrough is a great example of this and follows the story of a WWII platoon that trains for D-Day, then gets dropped in the middle of the action before fighting its way into Germany. The production utilizes video footage taken from U.S., British and German forces to weave a narrative around the visuals. It was also a surprising box office success.

11 A Matter of Resistance (1966) – 6.9

A Matter of Resistance is a French romantic comedy set around the Normandy invasion. A young Catherine Deneuve plays Marie, a country girl who is the young bride of an older farmer. She catches the eye of a German commander, who bivouacs his troops nearby.

She also catches the eye of a French resistance fighter who is trying to spy on the Germans to help prepare for the Allied invasion. She distracts him from his mission, and over the course of the film, all the men make fools of themselves trying to win her affections. The slapstick humor and romantic tension are the main draws of this film, with D-Day providing a significant backdrop.

10 The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) – 6.9

Erwin Rommel has long held a position of respect among the Allies. In contrast to political generals, Rommel is seen as a German general rather than just another Nazi and this movie did a lot to help establish the perception of Rommel in the United States. James Mason portrays Rommel as a complex and conflicted character, which isn’t far from the truth.

D-Day plays a small, yet crucial role in the movie. When Hitler prevents Rommel from preparing for the Normandy invasion, he decides to join a plot to assassinate the Fuhrer. When his role is discovered, he is given the chance to commit suicide in order to save face and save his family. It’s a rare and effective take on the other side, which allows this film to distinguish itself from its peers.

9 Ike: Countdown to D-Day (2004): 7.1

• Available to rent on AppleTV

Magnum P.I. and Blue Bloods superstar Tom Selleck shaved off more than just the mustache for his portrayal of General. Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of the most brilliant strategists ever to have graced the United States military. The film starts out 90 days prior to Operation Overlord and builds up to the inevitable conflict.

Selleck masterfully plays Eisenhower as a man trying to effect the single-most-important invasion in history, while dodging the politics of his peers like General Patton. The movie effectively shows how, through a mixture of superb diplomacy and strategy, he manages to accomplish the impossible.

8 Overlord (1975): 7.1

• Available on the Criterion Channel

Many of the best D-Day movies appeared in the immediate post-WWII era and reflected the attitudes toward war developed during that conflict. However, Overlord is a post-Vietnam D-Day movie. Instead of focusing on the heroism of the Normandy invasion, this movie looks at the war as an instrument of fate that carelessly churns through naïve young soldiers drawn inexorably toward an inglorious end.

It’s also an engaging film shot in glorious black and white and does a better job than most when it comes to blending new and archival footage. The result is a visceral WWII film that fits in well with the nihilism of the very difficult 1970s.

7 The Big Red One (1980): 7.1

• Available to rent on Prime Video

The Big Red One is almost like an updated and expanded version of Breakthrough, as it traces five men from their first campaigns in North Africa through Italy, D-Day, and, finally into Germany. The film engages with WWII with greater complexity than most of its peers.

From soldiers struggling with the requirement to kill enemies, to the difficulty of comprehending what happened in the Holocaust, this is a film that combines dramatic action with hard-hitting philosophical questions. It also bears the distinction of containing one of Mark Hamill’s most iconic roles outside of Star Wars.

6 36 Hours (1964) – 7.3

• Available to rent on AppleTV

Intelligence in WWII is infamous for some of the elaborate schemes devised by both sides to deceive the other. In this movie, German intelligence tries to get plans for the Allied invasion through an elaborate ruse, where they convince an American officer that the war is over.

RELATED: The 10 Best Spy Movies Of All Time

The movie stars James Garner and Eva Marie Saint, famous for roles from Eve in North by Northwest to Martha Kent in Superman Returns. It’s also a taut thriller, as the subtle deceptions deployed by the Germans make it all too easy to let details slip, creating a sense of tension.

5 The Americanization of Emily (1964) – 7.4

• Available to rent on Amazon

James Garner played Charlie, the adjutant for a rear admiral in this 1964 WWII film. His main job is to make sure the admiral and his fellow officers have all the luxuries they could want, including “companionship.” When his commander loses his wife, he decides to order Charlie to be among the first ashore on D-Day so he can document the first sailor killed on the beach.

Emily (Julie Andrews) is a widow who has already lost her husband to the war and falls in love with Charlie, while facing the prospect of losing him, as well. It’s as compelling an account of the absurdity of war as Catch-22 managed to be, with a little romance sprinkled in to give the movie its timeless charm.

4 Where Eagles Dare (1968) – 7.6

• Available to rent on AppleTV

Long before Clint Eastwood became one of Hollywood’s best directors, he played Lt. Schaffer, an American Ranger thrown into a British operation to rescue General George Carnaby from the S.S., before he can divulge the secret plans regarding D-Day.

However, not everything is at it seems. It soon becomes obvious that there’s another objective separate from the official one. The film scored well with critics and audiences alike thanks to solid performances by Eastwood, as well as Richard Burton, Mary Ure, and Patrick Wymark. The movie’s biggest strength is its plot twist, which is surprisingly effective and too good to spoil.

3 The Longest Day (1962) – 7.8

• Available to rent on AppleTV

This is one film that focuses exclusively on D-Day as a central theme. With a runtime of almost 3 hours, it’s no slouch and tries to tell the story from multiple perspectives, including numerous Allied and German soldiers on opposite sides of the conflict.

RELATED: The 10 Best World War II Epics, Ranked

The cast is huge and full of the biggest names of the time, including John Wayne, Sean Connery, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, and even Roddy McDowell from Planet of the Apes. Even if the human drama sometimes gets lost in the sheer scale of the movie, it still encapsulates the events of D-Day in superb fashion.

2 Patton (1970): – 7.9

• Available on Prime Video

Of course, Patton focuses on more than just the Normandy invasion. In many ways, this movie does the best job of tying together the entire European campaign, particularly because of the focus on General George S. Patton. Actor George C. Scott plays the iconic figure with such endearing earnestness that it’s hard not to sympathize with his actions.

D-Day occupies a position of honor in this film, but like other battles, the emphasis is not so much on the fighting, as it is on the meaning. Why does Patton fight, and how does he examine the cost of every single action he makes? Those are the tough questions the film tries to answer.

1 Saving Private Ryan (1998) – 8.6

• Available on Fubo TV

Saving Private Ryan boasts the most realistic and authentic depiction of D-Day ever committed to film, and it isn’t close. Using the full arsenal of his experience with special effects and action sequences, Steven Spielberg gave audiences a ground-level perspective on the D-Day landings, before using it as a jumping-off point for its main plot. It remains one of the biggest and most intense WWII battles in movie history.

The sheer brutality of the D-Day landing sequence is a powerful and harrowing experience, but one that has been lauded as a truthful representation of the horrors that went on that day, as opposed to Hollywood’s typical glamorization of war.

NEXT: 10 War Movie Masterpieces You’ve Probably Never Seen


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