The Big Red One

IMDb Link: The Big Red One  
Genre: Drama
Format: DVD
Publisher: Warner Studios
Tagline: The real glory of war is surviving.
Synopsis: Samuel Fuller's valedictory war picture, The Big Red One follows the First Infantry Division from Africa to Europe during the years 1942 through 1945. Lee Marvin portrays the division sergeant; he's tough and experienced, to be sure, but he takes on his job with cool professionalism rather than Hollywood bravado. Based on Fuller's own experiences, the film is a loosely constructed series of anecdotes. Among them are an insane asylum under bombardment while the inmates applaud and a climactic vignette in which a very young concentration camp internee dies while a friendly soldier plays piggy-back with the boy.

Some critics would select maverick director-writer Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One as the best war movie ever made. It is certainly one of the most terrifying. In its unforgiving and realistic action scenes, it matches the immediacy of the first half of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. In its allegorical nature, it presages Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line. Fuller's script is a loosely connected series of vignettes, based on his own World War II experiences, that follow a rifle squad across North Africa and into Europe. The squad is led by a gruff, unyielding sergeant (Lee Marvin), who taunts and terrorizes his four green, frightened soldiers. There are many spooky scenes, including the climactic liberation of a Nazi death camp. The two-hour final version was less than half the length of Fuller's director's cut, but it retains his uncompromising vision. Made when Fuller was in his late 60s, The Big Red One provided a crowning achievement for his long and controversial career, in which his renegade techniques and film noir sensibilities made him a post-modernist before his time.

Country: USA
Year: 1980
Runtime: 113 min
MPAA Rating: PG
AMG Rating: * * * *
VMG Rating: * * * * 1/2
IMDb Rating: 7.3

Aspect Ratio: American Matte (1.85:1)
Anamorphic: Yes
Color: Color
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Dialog Language: English/French/Italian/German

Director: Samuel Fuller
Cast: Lee Marvin - The Sergeant
Mark Hamill - Pvt. Griff, 1st Squad
Robert Carradine - Pvt. Zab, 1st Squad
Bobby Di Cicco - Pvt. Vinci, 1st Squad
Kelly Ward - Pvt. Johnson, 1st Squad

Awards: Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Special Citation 2004 Richard Schickel & Brian Jamieson
Seattle Film Critics Awards: Special Citation 2004 Richard Schickel & Brian Jamieson

Web Links: Internet Movie Database