- It is the film that meant the most (along with Park Row) to Fuller, and the one he was leading up to his entire life. War (Fuller was a WWII vet and much of this is autobiographical) and the war experience has always been important to Fuller, often throwing the big red “1” in his other films – even has far back as the 1950’s. So, it is at least somewhat disappointing that this film was 1) taken from Fuller’s control and 2) isn’t one of his best five films
- Fuller’s passion project- he was removed from The Deadly Trackers (no credit)- in 1973. He disowned the disastrous Shark in 1969. So this is it since 1964’s The Naked Kiss
- Bulk of the film shot Israel
- Fuller submitted a 4 hour version apparently- the studio released a 2 hour version and he was devastated. Richard Schickel, film critic, helped restore and this is a 162 minute restored version
- Lee Marvin’s last great role and performance. He gets great moments throughout including telling a young girl he likes the smell of the flowers she put on his helmet. I actually have a 10 year gap between 1970’s Monte Walsh and this for Marvin’s last archiveable work. He’s playing off his most famous role of course- Major Reisman in The Dirty Dozen. He’s called simply “The sergeant” here. He took a lot of heat at the time from critics for being too old (and Fuller for casting him)- but he’s solid here.
Lee Marvin’s last great role and performance
- Powerful black and white opening of WWI—the only color pop is the red from the red “1”- makes for a great bookend and pairing with the “kill” vs. “murder” moral discussion throughout the film
- Robert Carradine (would go on to do Revenge of the Nerds) is the “Hemingway of the Bronx” and voice-over
- Like The Steel Helmet and Park Row– this is about the comradery and team- the platoon or company
Like The Steel Helmet and Park Row– this is about the comradery and team- the platoon or company
- grim – cutting off ears as souvenirs
- Cynical worldview typical of Fuller—“Do you know how to spot a sniper? You send a guy out and see if he gets shot. They thought that up at West Point”- sardonic
- Vignettes if you’re kind, episodic if you are not- but it is mission by mission and you never ever feel the length of the 162 minute running time. Great ones like the Sicilian women cooking for them, and the Bangalore torpedo relay short film is masterful storytelling. Omaha Beach and wow- such horrors. Fuller uses form in this short film (easily the best section of the film) bouncing off shots of a wrist watch of a fallen soldier with red waves crashing.
- A nod to Shock Corridor (Fuller’s cinematic world is interconnected) with the vignette in the insane asylum. The insane guy picks up the gun and says “I am sane”- could never accuse Fuller of being subtle.
- Near the end, there is a great shot of Mark Hamill (in the same year as Empire Strikes Back) with Fuller’s camera inside a coffin (or an oven—disgusting) creating a natural frame within the camera frame with Hamill firing at the camera
Near the end, there is a great shot of Mark Hamill (in the same year as Empire Strikes Back) with Fuller’s camera inside a coffin (or an oven—disgusting) creating a natural frame within the camera frame with Hamill firing at the camera
- Recommend/Highly Recommend border