80s US Bracket/World War II Marathon: The Big Red One (Director’s Cut, 1980)

Film #30 in the World War II Marathon and the first film in my second match-up in the second round of the 80s US Bracket almost put me to sleep every fifteen minutes or so, and while I love sleep it’s not a good thing for a war movie to make me sleepy!

Written By: Samuel Fuller
Directed By: Samuel Fuller

I understand what Samuel Fuller was going for in The Big Red One, but that doesn’t mean I wanted to see it. I know why all of the soldiers, including Lee Marvin, were so bland and lifeless, just as I understand why the movie was so episodic. At the same time I also understand that I didn’t want actors who were so bland and lifeless or a movie that was so episodic. Movies aren’t always about what you want, or maybe because movies are such a personal experience they are always about just that, I don’t know. What I do know is that the movie Samuel Fuller made is not a movie I wanted to watch or took any sort of enjoyment out of watching.

This will probably be a shorter review as I all I have to say about The Big Red One are negative scribblings, and I don’t want to go on and on about a film that I feel so negatively about. Instead of my usual sprawling, longer review style I’ll try and keep this one a bit shorter. I’ll probably fail, but I will try, and in that regard I will be a lot like The Big Red One.

I don’t like to use the boring excuse too often, but sometimes a spade must be called a spade, and a boring film must be called a boring film. If Fuller’s intent was to bore me with the movie he filmed then he gets a gold star for his work in that department. It’s been a while, at least a few months, since I was as bored by a film as I was by The Big Red One. I put most of this on the combination of the bland and uninteresting characters with Fuller’s bulldozer direction. The Big Red One plows along, moving from battle scene to battle scene with such swiftness that most of the time it is hard to tell who is who, what is what or care about what is happening on the screen. The characters don’t help this, if they aren’t written to be interesting and the actors choose to leave them as lifeless constructs then what do I have to be excited about? I almost fell asleep more than once during The Big Red One, and in my book that is never the sign of a quality film.

I think I’m going to stop there, because the rest of the thoughts rumbling around in my head also fall into the negative category. The narration bugged me, the characters were broad and often offensive, and the pacing, or cadence, of The Big Red One didn’t work for me. This definitely constitutes a miss in the marathon, a film that I only added to the marathon because someone, I can’t remember who, said it was a World War II film that I needed to see. Unfortunately I wish I had never had to sit through The Big Red One, or almost sleep through it as the case may be. Oh well, you can’t always get what you want, and while I’m sure many people got what they wanted out of The Big Red One, I most certainly didn’t and that’s why I recommend others take a pass on watching it.





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