Produced in Annapolis, Md., by Lou Reda Battle Classic Prods. and A&E. Executive producer, Lou Reda; executive producer for A&E, Charlie Maday; producer, Mort Zimmerman; director, Don Horan; writer, Norman Stahl; historical source, “D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II,” by Steven E. Ambrose; News clips (including rare German footage), stills, maps, officers’ recollections and personal reminiscences make up a fascinating look at D-Day on June 6, 1944, date when Allied forces stormed Normandy beaches to free Europe. Platoons of specs on the samesubject lie ahead as the anniversary nears, but here’s a condensed version that accomplishes its mission.
The extraordinary bravery and fortitude of those involved in the venture are noted; Norman Stahl’s script flows as it melds with the well-chosen, well-assembled footage.
Most striking thing about director Don Horan’s docu is how much history was accomplished in one day and how much has been forgotten, misinterpreted or overlooked in the intervening years. “D-Day: Day of Decision” is an on-hands, stark black-and-white look at history in the making.
Stahl delineates the chiefs — Eisenhower, Bradley, Montgomery, Ramsey — and outlines the difficulties of assembling and deploying the troops. While air chiefs felt the air power could handle Operation Overlord, code name for the action, wiser heads prevailed and foot soldiers took to water and beach.
The assaults and landing beaches are explained through static-but-clear maps — Omaha and Utah beaches for U.S. troops, Gold and Sword for the Brits, Juno for the Canadians — but nothing’s said about other liberators.
More non-com and privates testifying about their experiences during the landings would have added another dimension to the hour. Yet the sweep of the armada has been impressively covered.
Gallantry dims when author Steven Ambrose comments on the British taking tea during the campaign and on their comparatively easier landings. It’s an ungracious observation about nationals who’d been waiting a long time for the Yanks to come into the war.
But the eye- and head-filling program should instruct those unfamiliar with D-Day (or Fortress Europe, for that matter). Too, it should remind those who’ve studied the event and will jog the memories of those who were there, who were scanning headlines or who sat worried by radio sets awaiting the momentous news: Hitler’s tide had irrevocably turned.