With a marvelous and for the most part accurate script based on historical documents (though embellished with "certain composite and representative scenes and characters"), Lionel Chetwynd has written a compelling drama about General Eisenhower and the planning of the D-Day invasion, with thoughtful and well paced direction by Robert Harmon, and a superb performance by Tom Selleck, who captures Eisenhower's strength, manly charisma, and many of the subtle mannerisms reminding me of this hero of mine since youth.
The cinematography by David Gribble is wonderful, and the atmospheric score by Jeff Beal also adds much to the film.
Filmed in New Zealand in less than 3 weeks, the terrific cast is mostly from Australia and New Zealand (with exceptions like Timothy Bottoms, excellent as Eisenhower's Chief of Staff Walter Bedell Smith); stellar among them is Ian Mune who plays Churchill. Others include Bruce Phillips as General Montgomery, and George Shevtsov as Charles DeGaulle, in a scene where DeGaulle displays such arrogance towards Eisenhower that it will vex those of us who remember and honor the American blood left on French soil.
This is far from a wartime action film; it is sometimes sober and introspective, and always fascinating, with the intricacy of the planning for D-Day, and the many characters and huge egos involved, some upset by Eisenhower's insistence of being the Supreme Commander, always holding one's attention. The expectation of the massive casualties for D-Day makes one wonder how this type of operation would be viewed in today's media age, where long-term objectives are rarely considered. Eisenhower in addressing King George VI (Mick Rose) on the king's fear of expected losses says "...but if they do not offer the sacrifice of blood now, we will all pay dearly with added gallons later. So if some must die, it is in a worthy cause".
This production for the A & E Network makes perfect viewing for a day like Veteran's Day, to honor the lives of those who have died so heroically for our freedoms. Total time is 2 hours, and the main DVD "Extra" is an interesting interview with writer Chetwynd (who also produced/wrote the excellent "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis") and director Harmon; both speak of how Selleck has some of Eisenhower's admirable characteristics, and Selleck, who tells how as a non-smoker, he played a man with a 4 pack a day habit.