Synopsis by Mark Deming
Iconoclastic film director Samuel Fuller spent decades nurturing his dream project, a movie about his experiences in the Army's First Infantry Division during World War II, but it wasn't until 1979 that he was able to finally bring the picture before the cameras. Unfortunately, Fuller was forced by his producers to work with a scaled-down budget, and he did not have final cut on the film; after his first rough cut ran nearly four-and-a-half hours, the studio took over editing on the project, and Fuller was vocally unhappy with the final results. In 2003, critic and film historian Richard Schickel initiated an effort to restore The Big Red One to a form that more closely resembled Fuller's original vision; using a large cache of newly discovered footage and the director's shooting script as a guide, the 113-minute theatrical version was expanded to 158 minutes, adding depth and detail to Fuller's sweeping and episodic tale of a hard-as-nails sergeant (Lee Marvin) and four inexperienced recruits under his command (Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, and Kelly Ward) as they battle their way across Africa to Europe between 1942 and 1945. Schickel's reconstruction received enthusiastic reviews when it went into limited release in the fall of 2004.
sergeant, squadron, war, infantry, adolescence