Big Red One

Big Red One

4.5 2
Director: Samuel Fuller

Cast: Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine

     
 

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Iconoclastic film director Samuel Fuller spent decades nurturing his dream project, a movie about his experiences in the Army's First Infantry Division during World War II, but it wasn't until 1979 that he was able to finally bring the picture before the cameras. Unfortunately, Fuller was forced by his producers to work with aSee more details below

Overview

Iconoclastic film director Samuel Fuller spent decades nurturing his dream project, a movie about his experiences in the Army's First Infantry Division during World War II, but it wasn't until 1979 that he was able to finally bring the picture before the cameras. Unfortunately, Fuller was forced by his producers to work with a scaled-down budget, and he did not have final cut on the film; after his first rough cut ran nearly four-and-a-half hours, the studio took over editing on the project, and Fuller was vocally unhappy with the final results. In 2003, critic and film historian Richard Schickel initiated an effort to restore The Big Red One to a form that more closely resembled Fuller's original vision; using a large cache of newly discovered footage and the director's shooting script as a guide, the 113-minute theatrical version was expanded to 158 minutes, adding depth and detail to Fuller's sweeping and episodic tale of a hard-as-nails sergeant (Lee Marvin) and four inexperienced recruits under his command (Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, and Kelly Ward) as they battle their way across Africa to Europe between 1942 and 1945. Schickel's reconstruction received enthusiastic reviews when it went into limited release in the fall of 2004.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Two years in the making -- and 35 years in the head of writer-director Samuel Fuller -- this World War II epic redefined an entire genre when it finally hit theaters in 1980. The Big Red One has great scope and a narrative drive best described as relentless, but it also captures scenes of intimacy and poignancy. Based on Fuller’s own experiences as a G.I., the film follows the First Infantry Division’s incursions into North Africa and Europe; in a sense it presents the land war through the eyes of five foot soldiers who have one thing on their minds: survival. Lee Marvin, in what is surely the best performance of his waning years as a star, plays the intrepid sergeant determined to bring his squad through, intact. Mark Hamill, in his first post-Star Wars role of substance, is terrific as one of the soldiers -- so much so that his typecasting as Luke Skywalker now seems all the more regrettable. Robert Carradine has a nice turn as another dogface, the film’s narrator and Fuller’s alter ego. The action is intense, and the Nazis make despicable villains, but the film never falls back on the jingoism that typifies most war movies: Fuller refuses to rely on such facile conceits. Clearly, he wanted to tell a different kind of war story, and his insistence on maintaining certain scenes, viewpoints, and characterizations put him at loggerheads with the producers, who wanted various cuts and changes. This 25th anniversary DVD edition, overseen by film historian and critic Richard Schickel, restores 40 minutes of subplots, character development, and grit to the film. This is the Big Red One Fuller wanted us to see, and it’s even more powerful than the version that played theatrically.
All Movie Guide
Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One is generally well regarded, but it does suffer from excess ambition; it wants to examine the second world war's every oddity, irony, combat philosophy and battlefront (excepting the Pacific). And so it was that character development and plot continuity were sacrificed when the studio cut it to under two hours, prompting Fuller to publicly air his disappointment. Six years after Fuller's death, Richard Schickel set out to correct that via The Big Red One: Reconstruction, which restores 45 minutes of highly useful footage. Now instead of this rifle squad bouncing between Northern Africa, Sicily and Belgium in the space of barely 30 minutes, the connecting scenes contextualize their jet-setting (or maybe "boat-setting"). This reconstruction also gives a true character arc to the one German officer the story visits. With certain other characters, however, it seems Fuller never had that plan to give them better dimension. The supposed cowardice of Mark Hamill's Griff is never fleshed out -- at some points he seems morally opposed to killing, at others he fears for his life, but most often he's as jolly as can be, making his character's big moment somewhat unconvincing. One thing undercutting the film's graphic nature is how often it resorts to broad humor, or shows the rifle squad joking and reveling. Certainly, this is part of the duality of war, but The Big Red One comes up short on the gravitas half of that equation, as too few characters who die are significant. On the plus side, Lee Marvin is exceptionally dignified, and surprisingly soulful for a man with his rock-hard countenance. Fuller would be a lot happier with this particular incarnation of his passion project, but by setting such an aggressive agenda, he probably never had a clear path to a fully realized vision.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/03/2005
UPC:
0012569705906
Original Release:
2004
Rating:
R
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
2:42:00
Sales rank:
11,706

Special Features

Cardboard O-sleeve package. Disc One: Digitally mastered with soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1; commentary by reconstruction producer Richard Schickel.
Disc Two: Alternate scenes; anatomy of a scene: before-amd-after restoration comparisons; new documentary, "The Real Glory: Reconstructing The Big Red One; "The Men Who Made the Movies: Samuel Fuller" profile; U.S. War Department film, "The Fighting First"; 1980 promo reel, theatrical trailer and TV and radio spots; 2004 reconstruction trailer; stills gallery.

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lee Marvin Sergeant Possum
Mark Hamill Griff
Robert Carradine Zab
Bobby Di Cicco Vinci
Stéphane Audran Walloon
Kelly Ward Johnson
Siegfried Rauch Schroeder
Serge Marquand Rensonnet
Charles Macaulay General/Captain
Alain Doutey Broban
Maurice Marsac Vichy Colonel
Colin Gilbert Dog Face POW
Marthe Villalonga Mme. Marbaise
Doug Werner Switolski
Ken Campbell Lemchek
Perry Lang Kaiser
Joseph Clark Shep
Howard Delman Smitty

Technical Credits
Samuel Fuller Director,Screenwriter
Adam Greenberg Cinematographer
Merv Adelson Executive Producer
Gene Corman Producer
Peter Jamison Art Director
Dana Kaproff Score Composer
Jim McBride Screenwriter
Bryan McKenzie Editor
Lee Rich Executive Producer
Richard Schickel Producer
Arne Schmidt Asst. Director
Mort Tubor Editor

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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Big Red One, Disc One
1. Credits [1:28]
2. 1918: War's End [4:10]
3. His Wetnoses [2:57]
4. North Africa Beach [4:41]
5. Killing, Not Murder [3:13]
6. Sing Us a Lullaby [3:25]
7. Amphitheater Siege [4:27]
8. No Ears, No Backtalk [3:47]
9. Digging In [5:49]
10. Sergeant of Arabia [5:31]
11. Sicily: Tag Team Combat [4:19]
12. Village Sniper [3:22]
13. Smitty's Still Got It [3:03]
14. Help From the Navy [6:59]
15. The Big Gun [6:01]
16. Targeting the Gun Crew [2:41]
17. Heroes for an Hour [4:25]
18. D-Day, Omaha Beach [5:01]
19. Bangalore Torpedo [7:37]
20. He Wrote the Book [2:37]
21. Into a Trap [:14]
22. Sgt. Possum Strikes Back [1:08]
23. It's a Boy [4:03]
24. Asylum in Belgium [4:18]
25. Following Ben Franklin's Lead [5:25]
26. Camera Eye [7:03]
27. Hurtgen Forest [2:51]
28. Killing His Killer [1:43]
29. Party Instructions [3:46]
30. Take the Hill [2:42]
31. Infiltrator [3:46]
32. Volksturm and Schnapps [3:14]
33. Candid Countess [3:30]
34. Castle Sniper [3:54]
35. Czechoslovakia [4:36]
36. Trigger Effect [3:52]
37. Father Figure [2:32]
38. Survivors [4:54]
39. End Credits [6:23]
Side #2 -- Big Red One, Disc Two
1. Introduction [1:15]
2. Meeting Sam [5:33]
3. The Survivors [9:04]
4. Lee Marvin [7:09]
5. The Reconstruction [6:52]
6. Picture Restoration [4:33]
7. Sound Restoration [5:19]
8. Musical Score [4:53]
9. Closing [2:12]
10. End Credits [:27]
1. Heat of the Story [3:39]
2. Newspaperman [Park Row]. [1:57]
3. I Shot Jesse James [6:00]
4. Verboten! [1:47]
5. The Steel Helmet [5:19]
6. Fixed Bayonets [2:52]
7. Pickup on South Street [8:27]
8. Run of the Arrow [1:19]
9. Forty Guns [5:49]
10. Shock Corridor, The Naked Kiss [4:51]
11. The Big Red One [10:49]
12. Survivor; End Credits [2:05]

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