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500 Five-Star: The Big Red One (1980)

March 8, 2013

For someone like me-a history graduate with a special interest in the Second World War-, The Big Red One is effectively sent from heaven.  Director and writer Samuel Fuller was a rifleman in the War, and this film is effectively a memoir of that life: of the violent times, the dull times, the celebratory times and everything in between.  Told in what really boils down to a series of vignettes, The Big Red One tells the story of four young men in the US Army and-though I hate to put it in such simple terms-describes what life was really like for them.  Fuller’s rough, uncompromising storytelling. combined with his unique perspective, makes him the perfect fit for such a film; it is brutal, without doubt, but then so it should be.  A recognisable cast, including Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, and Kelly Ward (known to most as Putzie from Grease) do a superb job in portraying the life of a WW2 soldier, but the star here at all times is Fuller’s stunning filmmaking prowess.  This is an absolute must-see for all history buffs and film fans.

Verdict:

War films don’t really get any better.  Empire got this so right.

*****

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