‘The Longest Day’ - revisited

In my capacity as a certified, government-inspected old coot, I have taken particular interest in the bubbling excitement over the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It takes me back -- not to D-Day itself, when I was in knee pants, but to the 18th anniversary thereof in 1962. Darryl Zanuck’s “The Longest Day” brought to stirring cinematic life on that occasion Cornelius Ryan’s D-Day book of the same title.

I still find great satisfaction in Zanuck’s film, but here’s what I remember about 1962. We -- well, a lot of us -- who went to see it wore coat and tie or heels. It seemed the thing to do. As the house lights went down, the sound system roused us with “The Star-Spangled Banner” -- the real one, with trumpets and drums and no swaying hyper-inflected nightclub singers. We in the house rose as one, with hands over hearts. Many sang. It was a big deal, in keeping with the occasion celebrated and the sacrifice required to liberate Europe from evil.

By coincidence, the other day, I learned from The New York Times the present locus of evil in the world. Times columnist Maureen Dowd identified the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, as the “perfect villain” of the Mueller report saga. More than a mere villain, it seems: “devious-devising,” “crooked-counseling” and, at the end of the day, “diabolical.”


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