The Real Glory: Reconstructing 'The Big Red One' - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Real Glory: Reconstructing 'The Big Red One' Reviews

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November 8, 2013
***This review is for the reconstruction version of the film.***
Really great war movie from a director that I had never heard of before seeing this film. The main reason I watched this was I saw that it had Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill of all people, so I thought it would give it a chance, and I am really glad that I did. The Big Red One is an excellent film, with probably the most versatile acting of Lee Marvins career, and Mark Hamill did a amazing job, doing his best work outside of the Star Wars trilogy. The story and direction are very good and from what I have read it was actually based on the real account of Samuel Fuller from when he was a solider, and I think that helps with the feel of authenticity. All in all this a war movie that is very under seen and under appreciated and that is a pity considering it is so good.
December 7, 2012
May watch...
September 28, 2012
Awesome movie to begin with, this version is a bit lengthy, however you just cant turn away from it. Sam Fuller gave us the extremely accurate depiction and is a must see.
May 4, 2012
Tunisie, Italie; Sicile, France; Omaha Beach, Belgique, Allemagne, Tchecoslovaquie: les pays et les populations se suivent et se ressemblent. Seul la Big Red One demeure. Fuller nous enfonce chaque fois un peu plus, a travers chaque pays, dans l'horreur de la guerre.
½ May 1, 2011
Blunt but effective WWII picture, reconstructed with 50 more minutes to flesh out the story. The acting is at times not up to snuff (Hamill in particular is out of his depth), but the extended scenes do help the story feel more complete.
March 9, 2011
This is a "Feature" film, NOT a Documentary!!!
½ July 10, 2010
Known for his gritty, street-smart brashness, Sam Fuller regularly serves up compelling characters and engaging stories. Despite his previous triumphs, The Big Red One suffers from a lack of strong characters and an airtight plot. My guess is that Fuller sought to make the decisive World War II flick. He wanted to show us how it "really was". Too many of the actions and scenes have this last word on authenticity kind of feel. Lee Marvin is his usual compelling self but, unfortunately he has no one to spar with among his fellow cast members.This film is clearly a labor of love for Fuller. It definitely presents aspects of the war I haven't seen in any other films of this genre. When I compare this to his other brilliant films, I find this one a bit lacking.
June 19, 2010
Fantastic war flick. Set up in WWII, The Big Red One squad went through europe (Belgium, Italia, Deutschland) until the conflict was over. They were up to killing not to be killed before even understanding what the fighting was about. Starring Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill and Robert Carradine.
Super Reviewer
½ April 26, 2010
This release gave Lee Marvin his best performance in years. As a grizzled sergeant leading a platoon of "wetnoses" into the dangers of battle, he's excellent. Based on writer-director Sam Fuller's personal reminiscenes of World War II. It's a terrific war movie as I watched it on DVD with the adding 49 minutes to the original 1980 theatrical release.
The script is a feat as a story of the stead-fast progression of the soldiers from North Africa to Germany. In the cast, Robert Carradine is in a performance of insight, amusement, and is a crucial piece to the film. And Mark Hamill is a brilliant arc as sharpshotter, and in the "cremation" scene, he proves he is far more valuable and compelling an actor most would give him credit for.
½ April 8, 2010
I'm interested in any flick that has Mark Hamill second billing only to Lee Friggin' Marvin. After seeing it I'm left with some speculative musings. If "The Big Red One" had been more successful at the time of it's release in 1980 would Hamill have avoided typecasting purgatory? Would he have been offered more plum roles in "A"-list productions rather than appearing in such dreck as "The Guyver" and "Slipstream" to pay the mortgage? It makes you wonder, especially considering his fantastic performance here as Pvt. Griff, sharpshooter for the US First Infantry Division. The oldest division in the United States Army, this outfit denoted their elite status by wearing, you guessed it, a big, red "1" as their shoulder sleeve insignia. What distinguishes this film unique from most other war flicks is that the director Samuel Fuller based it upon his own experiences in this same outfit during World War II. As such, this epic plays out like the inspiration of HBO's terrific "Band of Brothers" from 2001. It starts with a fantastic segment set at the tail end of the First World War shot in beautifully stark black and white. We first see the inevitable Sergeant (Lee Marvin in a wonderful "walk softly and carry a big stick" performance ) stumbling across a ruined landscape in France, seemingly non-plussed by the chaos around him. After an encounter with a shell-shocked horse leaves him without a rifle, he's forced to contend with a German soldier who attempts to surrender to him, babbling on about "the end of the war". The Sergeant has seen this bluff before and knifes the German without hesitation. When he returns to HQ, he's troubled to learn that the armistice actually did go into effect four hours ago and from here on in Fuller explores his Big Red Theme: was this killing for defense of country or flat-out murder? The film then flash-forwards to 1942 with the world embroiled in yet another global conflict. The Sergeant is back leading a platoon of elite soldiers, some of whom eventually distinct themselves as his "Four Horsemen". They include the aforementioned Mark Hamill as Griff, an idealistic, artistic kid who keeps wresting with his conscience, Pvt. Zab (Robert Carradine of "Revenge of the Nerds" fame) a cocky, brash gung-ho character, Pvt.Vinci (Bobby Di Cicco) an Italian-American joker and Pvt. Johnson (Kelly Ward) a simple farm boy who just seems to be trying to cope with everything. When they land in Algeria a skirmish with the Vichy French takes place and innocent lives are lost. Not long after Griff is consumed by the debate of killing vs. murder. The platoon ends up being the spearhead for endless famous military engagements, seeing action in Sicily, the Omaha Beach landings, and Czechoslovakia amongst others. The film culminates with the liberation of the concentration camp at Falkenau and our heroes are first-hand witnesses to the endless horrors they encounter there as well as carnage they've lived through along the way. Some people may consider "The Big Red One" off-putting initially, and not for the reasons you may think. For many, myself included, films like "Saving Private Ryan" have really played the role of spoiler when compared to older war-films. Although Fuller undeniably saw heavy action in WWII the battle scenes are static, stagy and really pale compared to more modern depictions. The film also has little flow, often times seemingly composed of filmed vignettes adapted from scribblings in a notebook. In fact, then entire parallel story featuring the German soldiers is superfluous and could easily have been jettisoned. It's as if Fuller wanted to shoe-horn as many tidbits into the film as possible regardless of whether or not contributed to the film's story or overarching theme. Like in "Patton", the visual historical inaccuracies also irritated me to no end. The supposed German "Tiger" tanks are actually Israeli tanks modified from American-built Shermans. Frankly, that's just unforgivable. But what I became willing to forgive, however, was the film's propensity for uniquely strange moments. At first these odd moments of the film were really giving me fits. The Sergeant first being molested by a German doctor and then dressing up like a Bedouin to escape, the "Tank birth" sequence, the prepubescent sniper, a ballet-like throat-slashing montage in a Belgian insane asylum all made for a jarring experience for me that I wanted to write off as the director messing with us. But then I remembered that truth is often a lot weirder than fiction and I can only assume that Fuller actually either experienced stuff like this first hand or heard of it happening to someone else. If anything, "The Big Red One" tells us that war is inexplicably senseless and this is what makes the picture unique in it's antiwar pantheon. This really comes together in the film's epilogue which sees the squad walking through the same French field where the Sergeant killed the German soldier years before. They stumble upon a war memorial which results in a haunting exchange between Johnson and the Sergeant:

Johnson: Would you look at how fast they put up the names of all our guys who got killed?

The Sergeant: That's a World War One memorial.

Johnson: But the names are the same.

The Sergeant: They always are.

March 27, 2010
Adding more depth to the characters and fleshing out the story, the reconstructed The Big Red One is a definite improvement over the version released in 1980. A story of men trying to cope with the mental and physical costs of war. Sam Fuller understood that there are no winners, only survivors.
February 21, 2010
They made a great movie even greater, and Lee Marvin is the blueprint for how to be a bad-ass in film and real life.
February 17, 2010
Tunisie, Italie; Sicile, France; Omaha Beach, Belgique, Allemagne, Tchecoslovaquie: les pays et les populations se suivent et se ressemblent. Seul la Big Red One demeure. Fuller nous enfonce chaque fois un peu plus, a travers chaque pays, dans l'horreur de la guerre.
December 1, 2009
Samuel Fuller a tout compris au film de guerre et Tarantino n'est pas loin pour reprendre les idées du maître.
October 18, 2009
A fantastic film about WW2: Lee Marvin is great.
July 23, 2009
Only this version is worth your time ... settle for nothing less!!!
June 2, 2009
This movie (directed by Samuel Fuller) follows a group of US soldiers around a Sergeant (played by Lee Marvin) from North Africa through Italy, France, Germany and Czechoslovakia to Belgium during WWII. This was one of the better war movies I've seen with a deep story, but mostly due to its good eye for details. They even got less known particulars around the defenses at Omaha Beach right, and the fact that German soldiers were used to infiltrate US troops in order to sabotage Allied efforts. The only things that bugged me were:

1.) The tanks. How the heck did they manage to rustle up that many M4 Sherman tanks for this movie (made 1980) when they couldn't get even one for "Patton" (made 1969)? And here I don't even care that the tanks in the movie were of a later mark than the ones used during D-day and were used by Wehrmacht, mainly because scrambling an equal number of working German wartime tanks is about as difficult as growing bananas on Greenland.

2.) Why on earth wasn't Siegfried Rauch (who played Schroeder, the German soldier) allowed to speak German, other than a few words at the end of the movie, when the Italian (the boy trying to bury his dead mother), Belgian (the Inn keeper, though I never really caught on whether she was speaking French or Flemish) and German civilians (the Volksturm posse at the end of the movie) talked -their- native languages? German is his first language (he speaks English fluently with little or no accent at all) and because of this he is more or less the chosen one for the role of a German soldier of any kind in a WWII movie.

In this movie Mark Hamill is playing a soldier in the core group around the Sergeant - one of his few movie roles outside Star Wars.

3,5 out of 5 stars.
May 9, 2009
A phenomenal, humanist portrait of soldiery. The grandfather of modern humanist war films like "Jarhead" and "Generation Kill". This one has the benefit of asking the same ethical questions in a war descendants of these warriors perceive as unquestionably just.

Notice how differently WWII is portrayed by the people who actually fought in it. Contrasts sharply with the "heroism" icongraphy in films like Saving Private Ryan and especially Band of Brothers.
April 29, 2009
Excellent remastering of this classic. Hadn't seen it for over 20 years, and loved it all over again
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