|D-Day the Sixth of June|
Original film poster by Jock Hinchliffe
|Directed by||Henry Koster|
|Produced by||Charles Brackett|
|Written by||Harry Brown|
Lionel Shapiro (novel)
|Music by||Lyn Murray|
|Edited by||William Mace|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1.95 million (US rentals)|
D-Day the Sixth of June is a 1956 CinemaScope romance war film made by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Henry Koster and produced by Charles Brackett from a screenplay by Ivan Moffat and Harry Brown, based on the novel, The Sixth of June by Lionel Shapiro.
A few hours before D-Day, Special Force Six embarks to destroy an especially well-defended German gun emplacement on the Normandy coast. As the ship steams towards it, the officers and men recall what circumstances brought them there, especially Wynter and Parker.
Captain Brad Parker, an American paratrooper invalided out because of a broken leg suffered during a parachute jump is posted to the headquarters of the European Theatre of Operations in London. At the Red Cross club, he meets and, despite being married, falls in love with Valerie Russell, a Women's Royal Army Corps subaltern. Valerie is the daughter of a crusty Brigadier who's been on sick leave since being wounded at Dunkirk. Valerie is also already in love with Captain John Wynter of the British Commandos, a friend of her father.
Both officers are posted overseas, but later return. Parker has volunteered to join what becomes Special Force Six, to be led by his former commander, Lt. Colonel (now full Colonel) Timmer.
With only a few hours before the operation is due to embark, Timmer goes to pieces (partly as a result of his earlier bad experiences in the failed Dieppe landing) and is arrested whilst drunk and breaking security. Wynter, now a Colonel, who has recovered from being badly wounded, is brought in to command the operation. The operation is a success, despite several killed and wounded. Wynter is killed when he steps on a mine. Parker is badly wounded and evacuated.
In hospital, and due to be repatriated, he sees Valerie for the last time. She does not tell him that Wynter has been killed.
Lionel Shapiro (1908-1958) was a Canadian war correspondent for The Montreal Gazette who landed at the Allied invasion of Sicily, Salerno and Juno Beach on D-Day with the Canadian forces. His 1955 romantic novel The Sixth of June was awarded the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction. As opposed to a historical account such as The Longest Day, The Sixth of June is a love triangle of adulterous relationships set in war such as The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit that was also filmed by 20th Century Fox in 1956. Robert Taylor echoes his appearance in Waterloo Bridge by wearing a trenchcoat and romancing English lady Dana Wynter. Wynter called it her favourite of all her films, being an unresolved love story.
Though originally planned to be filmed in Britain with Jean Simmons as the female lead, The Sixth of June (the working title of the film) was made on the Fox backlot with naval scenes filmed at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard whilst the beach landing was made at Point Dume California. Before the days of computer-generated imagery director Henry Koster had to make his landing look convincing on his limited budget with two LCVPs and eighty soldiers. In the invasion scene soldiers running out of the two landing craft appear in front of a back projection scene of another take of the same scene giving the appearance of twice as many landing craft and soldiers as there actually were.
Unlike many American war films D-Day the Sixth of June presents the viewpoints of British characters and features Canadian troops in action. The film's microcosm version of the Normandy landings is a Pointe du Hoc type assault featuring an imaginary "Special Force Six" made up of British, American and Canadian troops in equal quantities. When Taylor's character is wounded it is Todd and the British and Canadians who destroy the big gun that is the force's objective.
Edmond O'Brien's character is relieved of command in a similarity to US Army Ranger Major Cleveland A Lytle. Lytle who was to command three companies of the 2nd Ranger Battalion in the assault at Pointe du Hoc heard that Free French sources reported the guns thought to be there had been removed. Lytle became quite vocal that the assault would be unnecessary and suicidal and was relieved of his command at the last minute by Provisional Ranger Force commander Colonel James Rudder. Rudder felt that Lytle could not convincingly lead a force with a mission that he did not believe in. Lytle was later transferred to the 90th Infantry Division where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.