Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One on VHS. Starring Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Kelly Ward, Siegfried Rauch, Stephane Audran. Directed by Samuel Fuller. 1980.
From the VHS cover:
The real glory of war is surviving.
The combat-hardened sergeant squints at the members of his rifle squad. His face is lined and stubbled. The faces that look back are as smooth as summer peaches. They belong to kids right out of high school. And it’s the sergeant’s job to keep those kids alive.
The Big Red One, named for the insignia of the First Infantry Division, is the unsparing story of a handful of GIs battling their way from North Africa through Sicily, Omaha Beach and Belgium to the ultimate horror of the Nazi death camps. Academy Award winner Lee Marvin (Cat Ballou, The Dirty Dozen) plays the sergeant, and he’s joined by a talented young cast including Star Wars veteran Mark Hamill and Revenge of the Nerds alumnus Robert Carradine.
The writer/director is Samuel Fuller (Pickup on South Street, Merrill’s Marauders), one of the most influential filmmakers in Hollywood history. Fuller was actually in the Fighting First during World War II. He knows that to a soldier, war is no bigger than a single foxhole or a desperate 20-yard run up a beach — and that while generals ask “Will we win?,” the dogface asks “Will I survive?” And that means The Big Red One may be the most immediate, truest war movie you’ve ever seen.
“The real glory of war,” Fuller says, “is surviving.” And the real glory of The Big Red One is how powerfully it captures that idea.
DVD upgrade: The Big Red One: The Reconstruction