Ike: Countdown to D-Day
|Ike: Countdown to D-Day|
|Distributed by||A&E Television Networks
|Directed by||Robert Harmon|
|Produced by||Dennis A. Brown
|Written by||Lionel Chetwynd|
|Music by||Jeff Beal|
|Editing by||Chris Peppe|
|Running time||89 minutes|
Tom Selleck portrays General Dwight D. Eisenhower, US Army, popularly known by his nickname of "Ike". The film deals with the difficult decisions he made leading to up to D-Day, including dealing with the varied personalities of his command: General Omar N. Bradley, US Army (James Remar), Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., US Army (Gerald McRaney), General Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, British Army (Bruce Phillips) and General Charles De Gaulle, Free French (George Shevtsov).
The film does not have action sequences, focusing instead on the inner workings of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force that led to the successful D-Day invasion of World War II. Concentrating on decisions actually made by Eisenhower and the pressures brought to bear on him personally, it includes his personal relationship with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Ian Mune) and his own Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith, US Army (Timothy Bottoms).
The film is also notable for being the only major production in which General Montgomery's portrayal concentrates on his role as a competent military professional, instead of focusing on his alleged personality disorders, while still showing his egocentricity and foibles. General Patton's complex personality is also outlined in a very brief set of scenes played by Gerald McRaney.
The film omits Ike's relationship with Kay Summersby, his driver, though she appears briefly in a scene where the general officers are viewing movie reels. She is also portrayed as his driver when Ike visits US paratroopers on the eve of D-Day.
Countdown to D-Day was filmed entirely in New Zealand with the roles of British characters played by New Zealanders; the American roles were played by Americans.
- U.S. Army Air Corp Major General Carl Spaatz, is incorrectly referenced as "Jimmy" Spaatz.
- The scene at the end of the film showing the visit to the 101st airborne troops is presented to the viewer as being on June 6, 1944. This particular gathering took place on the eve of D-Day on June 5, 1944, prior to the take-off to France. The airborne phase of Overlord began late in the evening of June 5 and into the early hours of June 6. Thus by daylight on June 6 Allied airborne troops were already on the ground in France.
- The film incorrectly talks about "DD" -- "duplex drive landing craft." No landing craft had DD drive. The "DD's" actually were Sherman tanks modified with a waterproof underbody and skirt, allowing the tank to float in calm water, and a propeller to propel the tank from LCT launching craft to shore. On Omaha, most of them sank in rough seas, meaning the troops on the beach had no armored support. The raid by German torpedo boats on a large practice landing did happen, but did not involve DD (duplex drive craft) and was extensively "hushed up." See Exercise Tiger
- Contrary to the film, LST's (landing ship tank) were not used on the initial hours of D-Day; they came in after the beaches were secured.
- General Montgomery's dagger like thrust into Berlin wasn't presented to Eisenhower before D-Day, it was part of his plan for operations following the breakout of Normandy and was presented during the first week of september. In fact the landings were enlarged from three beaches to five by Montgomery.
- The movie accurately depicts the incident which nearly torpedoed Overlord. In a drunken scene at a restaurant, Major General Henry Miller — a West Point classmate of Eisenhower — of the USAAF blurted out the general time and place of Overlord. A lieutenant of the 101st Airborne overheard this and reported it up the chain of command. Miller was sent home with a reduced rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Maj. Gen. Bedell Smith spoke to the lieutenant and reported that the officer felt bad about doing what he did, but that he was worried about the lives of his men on the day they went to war without letting the Germans know when and where. Eisenhower on hearing this said the officer was better than Miller. He told Miller that it was their longstanding friendship that prevented him from seriously court-martialing him.
- The film also makes reference to a message composed by Eisenhower to be given to the press corps in the event the invasion failed. This message was found, years later, in a pocket of General Eisenhower's old uniform. In this speech, Eisenhower accepted full responsibility for any failure of the assault.
- In the US Armed Forces at the time, general officer ranks were not always permanent and many were temporarily granted to senior officers through the use of Army of the United States ranks (before the 20th century, it was called brevetting). Often if an officer was relieved due to other than honorable conditions, he would be returned to his original rank in the Regular Army. As Bedell Smith put it: "You'd lose your theater rank. They'll take three of those stars." In the Miller case he was going to be returned home a major. Instead Ike asked that he be kept a Colonel instead.
- In the movie it is Omar Bradley that tells Ike he would lose three of those stars, right before they begin discussing the composition of the sand on the Normandy beaches.
- There was indeed a shortage of Higgins boats (LCVP).
- Unlike many movies and written accounts of the Normandy invasion, the movie accurately references the role of the Canadian First Army (Juno Beach) instead of simply rolling it into a generic reference to the "British". The accuracy extends to appropriate use of the Canadian Red Ensign (the flag in use at the time) rather than the present day maple leaf flag.
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (April 2010)|