A D-Day retro-review: The Big Red One
Today's retro-review: 1980's The Big Red One, starring Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill and Robert Carradine. It was directed by Sam Fuller. The title refers to the nickname of the U.S. Army's First Infantry Division.
The plot: A veteran sergeant (Marvin) from World War I leads a squad of soldiers in WWII through landings in Vichy French Africa, Sicily and D-Day at Omaha Beach. (Director Fuller served in the Big Red One in WWII
Sounds familiar: It's hard not to confuse Marvin's role here with his work 13 years earlier in "The Dirty Dozen." Fans of "Saving Private Ryan" might find the D-Day landing scene nearly identical at times.
You might remember: Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill as Pvt. Griff who tells the sergeant "I can't murder anybody."
Surely you can't forget: "Revenge of the Nerds" star Robert Carradine as a grizzled, cigar-chompin' soldier? You bet. And it works just fine.
One critic's review: "...The Big Red One is still a B-movie -- hard-boiled, filled with action, held together by male camaraderie, directed with a lean economy of action. ... "A" war movies are about War, but "B" war movies are about soldiers." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.
Why we love it anyway: It covers as much of the European theater of war as any WWII movie, except for maybe "Patton." And its D-Day landing scene seems more compelling than that of "Saving Private Ryan." It's also perhaps the only '80s movie about the Normany landings, hence the spotlight on this anniversary of June 6, 1944.
Top 5 lines from The Big Red One:
5. "You know how you smoke out a sniper? You send a guy out in the open and you see if he gets shot. They thought that one up at West Point."
4. "You don't murder animals; you kill 'em."
3. "Did I kill the guy that killed me?"
2. "I can understand you being horny and all, Fritz...but your breath stinks."
1. "You're going to live, even if I have to blow your brains out."