The Big Red One


D: Samuel Fuller

United Artists/Lorimar (Gene Corman)

USA 🇺🇸 1980

113 mins (restored version: 160 mins)


W: Samuel Fuller

DP: Adam Greenberg

Ed: David Bretherton & Morton Tubor

Mus: Dana Kaproff

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.


The cast of The Big Red One
The cast of The Big Red One
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.