Ike-  Countdown to D-Day (2004)



Director:  Robert Harmon.

Starring:  Tom Selleck (Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower), James Remar (Gen. Omar Bradley), Timothy Bottoms (Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith), Gerald McRaney (Lt. Gen. George S. Patton), Ian Mune (Prime Minister Winston Churchill), Bruce Phillips (Gen. Montgomery), John Bach (Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory), Nick Blake (Air Marshal Arthur W. Tedder), Kevin J. Wilson (RAdm. Bert Ramsay), Christopher Baker (Group Capt. Maj. James Stagg), George Shevtsov (Gen. Charles DeGaulle), Gregor McLennan (Capt. Chapman), Paul Gittins (Maj. Gen. Henry Miller), Craig Hall (Cpl. William Hayes), Stephen Brunton (Cpl. William Younger).

planning and carrying out D-Day, Gen. Eisenhower has a difficult task dealing with all the big egos around him


Spoiler Warning:  below is a brief summary of the movie.

Winston Churchill talks with Eisenhower to see if he is the man for the job as the overall leader of the D-Day invasion of German occupied France.  The egomaniac British Gen. Montgomery would like the job.  But Eisenhower has the ability to work with big egos without going crazy or getting very angry and showing it.  Eisenhower says that he wants to be the sole commander of the entire operation, including navy, air, and army.  Churchill is a bit skeptical but in his heart he knows Ike is the man for the job.  When Gen. Montgomery learns of Ike's appointment he is very upset and refers to his new commander as the "untried American". 

Eisenhower calls in Patton to reprimand him.  Patton was Eisenhower's mentor, but Ike knows that even if Patton is brilliant,  he sometimes acts like a child.  He tells Patton that the talk of Anglo-Saxon rule after the war has to stop.  "It's racialism".  Patton acts contrite, but as soon as he gets with his staff, he brags that he has Eisenhower where he wants him.    Patton for the moment will stay in Maidenhead leading his fake army in order to fool the Germans. 

Major General Henry Miller gets drunk in a restaurant and starts mouthing off about the coming invasion of France.  He even mentioned the date of June 4.  Ike talks with him and sends him back to the United States, which would mean a drop to the rank of major.  But Eisenhower tells his staff to keep the man a Colonel if possible.

Eisenhower speaks with the arrogant French Gen. Charles De Gaulle.  The man is completely set on Ike doing things his way, not vice-versa.  He does not like the invasion plans and he wants to have the power over what is done in France.  In short, De Gaulle refuses to even broadcast a message to the French to tell them to cooperate with the Allied forces. 

As D-Day approaches, the staff has to worry about the weather.  There are a lot of consultations with the weather forecaster.  Things look very iffy for early June.  Ike decides to delay D-Day for one day. 

June 6, 1944.  The invasion begins. 


Good movie.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well Tom Selleck did as Eisenhower.  He was frustrated and yet controlled at the same time, illustrating the problems the great leader faced and his great ability to avoid the clash of tremendous egos.  After all, more than half of any job is getting along with others.  And Ike was the man for the job.  I knew, of course, that Gen. De Gaulle had a big ego, but the vast extent of it was still a bit shocking.  And naturally the loud-mouthed Gen Patton was also a problem, but one that Ike handled well.  (My wife was glad that there was no actual fighting in the movie itself.) 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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