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
The bulk of the picture was shot in Israel, and director Samuel Fuller remarked that it was unsettling after a scene was shot when the German soldiers and SS troops would take off their helmets and Fuller would see them wearing yarmulkes; also, between takes they would be sitting around the set in full Nazi uniform speaking Hebrew or reading the Torah. See more »
When the war correspondent is filming the soldiers, you can hear the sound of the camera motor, but the hand cranks on the reels are not moving. See more »
I have seen this film quite a few times and have always been somewhat puzzled about it. There was no doubt that it had some of the most emotive scenes of any war film but seemed fractured. At times there seemed to be far more realism in it's morality than other films which was understandable since Sam Fuller actually served with The Big Red One at this time so much of it is a first hand account of events and attitudes. I have now read some of the background to the making of the film,I think in the L.A. Times,which now makes sense of the flaws in the film. Apparently Sam Fuller's budget was cut to the minimum by the studios after a regime change and the original screenplay as shot was hacked to death by the same studio against Fuller's wishes. This was not the film he wanted to make but he made it. And it was not the film that he shot as is indicated by the very complete screenplay notes he made. I think it is Richard Schickel, the noted reviewer of Time magazine, who has laboured to find the missing outtakes and to put the film together in its complete form with over 40 minutes added to the length. Apparently this more complete cut significantly improves the film and adheres to Sam Fullers screenplay more accurately. This new cut is now playing to limited audiences and, hopefully, will be available on DVD. It must be emphasized that this is not the film that Fuller originally wanted to make as the budget was cut by 75%. Some of the comments made by other reviewers on these pages are valid as to authenticity specifically in battle scenes. But Fuller did not have the budget that both the Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan had. It will be interesting to see the new cut. Hopefully it will flesh out what could have been one of the greatest Second World War films.
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