Picks and Pans Review: Normandy: the Great Crusade
Amid the armada of specials marking the 50th anniversary of D Day (June 6, 1944), when the Allied Expeditionary Force under General Eisenhower began the invasion of Europe, this documentary furnishes the best overview. For the best you-are-there stock footage of World War II, though, see PBS's powerful season closer of The American Experience: "D-Day" (Wed., May 25, 9 p.m. ET).
Normandy comprises numerous individual perspectives provided by participants, both civilian and military, from both sides of the massive battle. These letters, diaries and remembrances create a rich backdrop for the period clips and battle footage.
The film is narrated by none other than Charles Durning, who, then 17, was among the Allied troops to swarm ashore on the first day of the Normandy campaign. Durning's valor that terrible day at Omaha Beach won him three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.