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Featured CED VideoDisc No. 32 - Spring 2004


The Longest Day - June 6, 1944

The Longest Day RCA CEDLongest Day FOX CED

With the 60th anniversary of D-Day coming up on June 6, 2004, The Longest Day is an appropriate CED title to be featured for this season. This may be the last major anniversary of Operation Overlord where a significant number of veterans of the event are still with us, and with the National World War II Memorial being dedicated on May 29, 2004, the 1944 Normandy invasion will be getting considerable press coverage this year.

Pictured above are the RCA and CBS caddies for this title that was released twice in the CED format. The RCA version has their classic circle on the cover, while the CBS release has a navy blue banner above and below a still from the movie - a layout CBS used on many of their caddies. An interesting aspect of the CBS cover is the use of a color still, although the movie itself is in black and white. With CED's being on the market just before colorization became popular on video, there never was a colorized CED title released. The dual release of this 2-disc title provides a good example of mastering philosophy on the two discs comprising the movie - use three long sides or four shorter sides. With this three hour movie, it could be put on three sides by approaching the limit of an hour per side, or the movie could be put on four equal sides of about 45 minutes each. Here are the times of each release showing the competing RCA and CBS philosophies:

Disc Side RCA Length CBS Length
Side 1 44:44 56:58
Side 2 43:57 59:11
Side 3 44:16 59:42
Side 4 42:28 Not Used

I personally prefer the RCA choice of using four sides on a movie of this length, as the image looks better towards the end of each side in comparison to the three-side CBS release. This is because the CED system is constant angular velocity (CAV) with four video frames being recovered from each concentric groove on the disc. Since the groove circumference decreases as the stylus gets nearer the end of the disc, the signal-to-noise ratio of the video signal gradually decreases. The advantage of the CBS choice is that it requires two disc flips rather than three. It's also interesting that CBS (like RCA) decided to use four sides for the stereo version of Patton, another 3-hour title released the same month as their version of The Longest Day.

This CED title contains one of the largest casts of historical personalities ever put into a single movie. Many of the historical figures are identified by subtitles the first time they appear, while a number of others, like Dutch Schultz and Dwight D. Eisenhower, are not identified. In the case of General Eisenhower, the uncredited actor portraying him, Henry Grace, is such a ringer that no identification was necessary. I think it's interesting to compare the historical figures to these actors, so I'm be adding thumbnail images from the movie that when clicked on will open an inset image showing the real person and providing a brief biography.

As an example, Erwin "Desert Fox" Rommel, the famed German field marshall of the North Africa campaign, gives the movie its title, proclaiming he will stop the impending invasion at the water's edge. On July 17, 1944, he was badly injured in a car crash resulting from a strafing run by a British fighter. This was just before the July 20, 1944 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler, a plan Rommel was aware of but did not agree with. Rommel's name came up in the sweeping investigation that followed, and on October 14, 1944, he was offered the choice of taking cyanide and being given a hero's burial, or being tried and hanged, with his family put to ruin. He chose the former, and the German people were unaware of the mockery surrounding his death until after the war.


European Map Showing Normandy Map of Europe Showing Normandy
This is a map of Europe with the red rectangle indicating the Normandy invasion area enlarged in the image below. Note that Normandy is not the closest coastline to England. The closest spot is Pas-de-Calais, to the Northeast. Germany expected the invasion to take place at Calais, partially due to an effective Allied deception campaign (Operation Fortitude), but also because the Germans four years earlier had planned their aborted invasion of Great Britain (Operation Sea Lion) from Pas-de-Calais. The CED movie The Battle of Britain covers elements of Operation Sea Lion, while a good CED title covering the Allied deception prior to D-Day is Eye of the Needle.



Normandy D-Day Invasion Area D-Day Invasion Area in Normandy, France
This close-up map of Normandy shows the nine invasion areas covered in the movie (although Caen was mostly invaded by decoy rubber dummies). A number of Normandy maps are shown briefly in the movie, which unfortunately never allow a clear notion of the invasion area to be formed during viewing. The table below links the invasion areas on the map to their start times on both the RCA and CBS CED VideoDisc releases:

On Map    Operation RCA Start Time    CBS Start Time
1 Orne River Side 2, 04:36
Side 4, 01:56
Side 1, 49:19
Side 3, 18:46
2 Caen Side 2, 15:38 Side 2, 03:29
3 St. Mere-Eglise Side 2, 31:35
Side 4, 05:04
Side 4, 21:55
Side 2, 19:26
Side 3, 21:54
Side 3, 38:46
4 Omaha Beach Side 3, 17:38
Side 4, 17:07
Side 4, 25:50
Side 4, 37:36
Side 2, 49:22
Side 3, 33:58
Side 3, 42:40
Side 3, 54:27
5 Utah Beach Side 3, 23:36 Side 2, 55:20
6 Gold-Juno Beaches    Side 3, 26:22 Side 2, 58:06
7 Sword Beach Side 3, 27:24 Side 3, 00:01
8 Pointe du Hoc Side 3, 35:25
Side 4, 00:01
Side 3, 08:01
9 Ouistreham Side 4, 08:17 Side 3, 25:07



Ronald Reagan In Normandy June 6, 1984 President Ronald Reagan at Normandy in 1984
This is a picture of President Reagan giving an impassioned speech at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy on June 6, 1984, the 40th anniversary of D-Day. Pointe du Hoc is Number 8 on the map above, and is the sheer cliff scaled by U.S. Army Rangers to destroy gun emplacements thought to be on top. The Normandy invasion beaches can be seen in the East to President Reagan's left.


The first table below details in chronological order those CED titles that deal with specific battles or limited periods of time during World War II. By watching the CED's in the order listed, nearly the entire conflict can be covered from the Battle of Britain in July 1940 to the waning days of the war in the Pacific in 1945. Some of these war movies take artistic license with history. For instance, the movie Air Force takes place over the span of about a week starting with December 6, 1941, yet the final action in the movie appears to be the Battle of the Coral Sea, which didn't take place until May 1942.

Chronological Table of World War II CED Titles
Time Frame
Operation or Area
Battle of Britain, The (2) July - September, 1940 Sea Lion (canceled)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (2) [FOX] August 30, 1939 - December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor
Tora! Tora! Tora! (2) [RCA] August 30, 1939 - December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor
Air Force December 1941 Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, the Philippines, Coral Sea
Boat, The (2)** November - December, 1941 North Atlantic
Boat, The* [PAL] November - December, 1941 North Atlantic
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence** [PAL] 1942 Java
Twelve O'Clock High (2) Fall 1942 Europe
Sea Wolves, The (2) November 1942 India
Run Silent, Run Deep 1942 - 1943 Pacific
Guns of Navarone, The (2) 1943 Greece
Great Escape, The (2) March 1944 Germany
Dirty Dozen, The (2) [RCA] March - June, 1944 England/France
Dirty Dozen, The (2)* [MGM] March - June, 1944 England/France
Longest Day, The (2) [FOX] June 5, 1944 - June 6, 1944 England/France
Longest Day, The (2) [RCA] June 5, 1944 - June 6, 1944 England/France
Bridge Too Far, A (2) September 1944 Operation Market Garden
Stalag 17 December 1944 Germany
Sands of Iwo Jima 1943 - March 1945 New Zealand, Tarawa, Iwo Jima
Mister Roberts April 1945 Pacific


World War II CED Titles Not Included in the Above Chronology
Time Frame
Operation or Area
Big Red One, The November 11, 1918 - May 7, 1945 WW1 (end), North Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium, Germany, Czechoslovakia
Brady's Escape 1944 Hungary
Bridge On The River Kwai, The (2) 1943 - 1945 Burma
CATCH-22 1944 Mediterranean
Escape to Athena 1944 Greece
Eye of the Needle 1940 - 1944 England
Hanover Street 1943 England/France
Hell in the Pacific 1944 Pacific
Holocaust (4) 1935 - 1945 Europe
Kelly's Heroes (2)* 1944 France
Patton (2) [monophonic] 1943 - 1945 North Africa/Europe
Patton (2)* 1943 - 1945 North Africa/Europe
South Pacific 1943 Pacific
To Be Or Not To Be [1942] 1942 Poland
To Be Or Not To Be** [1983] 1942 Poland
Victory 1943 Germany
Victory at Sea 1939 - 1945 Europe/Pacific
War Lover, The 1943 - 1944 Europe


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