7.2/10
17,473
120 user 77 critic

The Big Red One (1980)

R | | Drama, War | 18 July 1980 (USA)
A hardened sergeant and the four core members of his infantry unit try to survive World War II as they move from battle to battle throughout Europe.

Director:

Samuel Fuller

Writer:

Samuel Fuller

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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
Stéphane Audran ... Underground Walloon Fighter at Asylum (as Stephane Audran)
Siegfried Rauch ... Sgt. Schroeder
Serge Marquand Serge Marquand ... Rensonnet
Charles Macaulay Charles Macaulay ... General / World War I Captain
Alain Doutey ... Sgt. Broban - Vichy Soldier
Maurice Marsac ... Vichy Colonel
Colin Gilbert Colin Gilbert ... Dog Face POW - Tunis Hospital
Joseph Clark Joseph Clark ... Pvt. Shep - Soldier on Troop Transport
Ken Campbell Ken Campbell ... Pvt. Lemchek - #2 on Bangalore Torpedo
Doug Werner Doug Werner ... Switolski
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Storyline

The story of a hardened army sergeant and four of his men, from their first fight at the Kasserine Pass after the invasion of North Africa through to the invasion of Sicily, D-Day, the Ardennes forest and the liberation of a concentration camp at the end of the war. As the five of them fight - and survive to fight yet again in the next battle - new recruits joining the squad are swatted down by the enemy on a regular basis. The four privates are naturally reluctant to get to know any of the new recruits joining the squad, who become just a series of nameless faces. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The real glory of war is surviving. See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for war violence and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Italian | German

Release Date:

18 July 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Red One: The Reconstruction See more »

Filming Locations:

Israel See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,206,220, 31 December 1980
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (reconstructed)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (reconstruction)| Dolby (original release)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to a review in the 'Variety Movie Guide', this movie was "Based on [the] writer-director's [i.e. Samuel Fuller] own experiences as a GI, pic was announced as a John Wayne starrer in the late 1950s and came close to realization on many other occasions, but only came together when producer Gene Corman found means to make it almost entirely in Israel." See more »

Goofs

When the sergeant and his unit are in Sicily, they walk in front of a wall with the portrait of Mussolini and a sentence in big capital letters written in Italian. The writing is incorrect. It reads "Se avanzo, Se guitmi! Se indietreggio, uccidetemi! Se muoiu, vendicatemi! Mussolini". It should be "Se avanzo, Seguitemi! Se indietreggio, uccidetemi! Se muoio, vendicatemi! Mussolini". It means "If I move forward, follow me! If I move back, kill me! If I die, avenge me!" See more »

Quotes

Zab: [narrating] The Bangalore Torpedo was 50' long and packed with 85 pounds of TNT and you assembled it along the way. By hand. I'd love to meet the asshole who invented it.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 2004, film critic Richard Schickel restored this film to a new director's cut length of approximately 160 minutes. Using Samuel Fuller's production notes and the full-length, unexpurgated script, Schickel restored the footage that was forced to be cut by the studio upon its original 1980 release (which runs 116 minutes). The restored version's DVD release date is 3 May 2005. This longer, epic-length version is closer to Fuller's original vision for the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Nocturne in E Flat Major No. 2
(uncredited)
Written by Frédéric Chopin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Groundbreaking war film, as misunderstood as the title.
27 September 2003 | by D_PsypherSee all my reviews

Less than 5 years after the Vietnam War officially ended, Director and acclaimed (but aged) film writer Sam Fuller attempted to recount the experiences he encountered while serving as an infantry soldier in the European Theatre of WW2. He had written many war scripts in his day, but fully realized that the world would not be ready for the true story of WW2, (He is quoted infamously as saying that a truly realistic war picture would involve live grenades and machine guns in the theatre). As his career ended and the world changed, he decided to make a go of his life long pet project... to make a film about the REAL story of WW2, about his own experiences in the Big Red One, or The First Infantry Division.

Too ahead of it's time to be appreciated during it's birth, and too dated to be appreciated in hindsight.

Some of the other user comments suggest this film is inferior to modern war films. Of course this film is not at the caliber of Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers in it's war scenes. How could it? When it is of a time closer to The Green Berets (John Wayne wins The Vietnam War) then to anything that came after it. Infact I would go as far as to say that this film broke the first ground, and made films like Platoon, Hamburger Hill, and Full Metal Jacket socially acceptable, and paved the way for films like Saving Private Ryan. Sure, Apocalypse Now has better War scenes, but is so fictional in it's scripting and "epic" war moments that it missed the point of the soldier on the front (and is widely regarded as being unrealistic by Vietnam Vets). The Big Red One tells the story from a WW2 Vet's point of view, Sam Fuller, and is wonderfully acted by a WW2 vet, Lee Marvin. Perhaps the last film to have such credits.

Sure, The Big Red One is cheesy, and harkens to a time when war films were more about the characters, then the violence. Still, there is something charming about the scripting, and Lee Marvin holds the movie together, while being surrounded by actors who were trendy on the cheap for 1979. The film also has technical inaccuracy, as in the Sherman tanks used as Panzers. However, the real strength of the film is in the script, and not in the battles. It breaks ground in it's defiance of films like the Sands of Iwa Jima. The soldier is not a clean sterile fighter for the holiest do goodynest army of all time, he is a human being locked in a battle for survival, and most importantly, he hasn't lost his sense of humor, or his libido.

Regardless of it's dated, almost 70's TV movie feel, I must mention that this film was first to show D-Day in a light other than that cast by The Longest Day, and uses some very clever cinematography to illustrate the violence. Sam Fuller consciously decided to make the battles less violent, and choose to focus on the characters instead, depicted the main characters as cynical and the fallen as humorous tragically short lived figures. This film also was first to introduce words like "replacement", "non-Coms" and "Krouts" to the war movie dictionary. It has the entire bangalore scene from Saving Private Ryan (although merely a concept compared to SPR) and shows North Africa, Italy, France, Germany, and a concentration camp. Before this film, WW2 was only depicted in such an epic manor that Bible films are seemingly tame.

THE BOTTOM LINE: This film was one of the last war pictures to emerge from the dying studio system, and is comparable in the way of battles to The Green Berets, Longest Day, etc. However it shines in the script category. and was first to show soldiers as young clumsy men, and not heroes. It attempts almost too much and that is it's strongest limitation. Still, a must see for war movie fans who can appreciate the older films. 7/10.


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