Lee Marvin (The Sergeant), Mark Hamill (Pvt. Griff), Robert
Carradine (Pvt. Sab), Bobby DiCicco (Pvt. Vinci), Kelly Ward (Pvt. Johnson)
My biggest criticism of Samuel Fuller's sprawling WWII opus is
probably that it's a few years ahead of its time, focusing more on characters and the tension of war rather than conflict itself, but it's fair to say that it inspired films such as Platoon and
Hamburger Hill later in the decade.
Lee Marvin plays a veteran of the First World War, returning
to the battlefront with a young regiment, all of whom experience their own internal conflicts as they press on with their mission.
The ensemble cast includes Mark Hamill as a conflicted
marksman, Robert Carradine as an aspiring author and Bobby DiCicco & Kelly Ward.
Writer-director Samuel Fuller based the film on his own
experiences and it has an intimate personal feeling to it. The restored version, at 160 mins, does drag a little in places, perhaps the theatrical cut at 113 mins is a little easier to sit
through, although I cannot admit to have seen the shortened version.
Did You Know:
During the UK clampdown on video nasties in the 1980s the
film was briefly seized by Manchester police, who believed it to be a pornographic film.