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D-Day 67 Years On

[ 17 ] June 6, 2011 |

Mark Hamill on Sam Fuller:

The image of Lee Marvin threatening to shoot Mark Hamill as the latter tries to assemble a bangalore torpedo on Omaha Beach is one of my most intense early memories of cinema. I don’t remember exactly when I first saw Big Red One, but I’m pretty sure it was before I saw Return of the Jedi. I do genuinely admire Spielberg’s technical achievement with Saving Private Ryan, but Fuller’s vision of Normandy is the one that sticks with me.

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  1. mark f says:

    You mean “Mark Hamill on Worcester’s own Samuel Fuller.” Sorry, but when Denis Leary is your biggest recent export these things matter.

  2. kingtoots says:

    Most movies about Omaha (including Pte. Ryan) don’t do a good job about showing how long these guys were on the beach. You would think that it was a bloody but over in about 30 mins.

    The Big Red One gives you a better understanding of how long everyone was on the beach for.

  3. Jim Lynch says:

    Years ago, I read an account in which someone– either a reporter or GI– wrote that day, “It’s good to see the 1st Division is now in the fight” [paraphrase]. Later, he wrote, “Thank God for the U.S. Navy”, written when destroyers finally came in close and began unloading on German positions at point blank range.

    But my favorite account remains the remark of a sailor who was beached when his landing craft was disabled. Ordered to find a rifle and follow orders, he was overheard to curse, “Just what I hoped to avoid when I joined the Navy– fighting as a goddamned infantryman”!

  4. Anderson says:

    Today is the anniversary of the sinking of U.S.S. Hammann at Midway, along with the coup de grace on Yorktown by a Japanese sub, and the U.S. sinking of Mogami.

    Next year is the 70th anniversary of Midway. Plan your June accordingly!

  5. bph says:

    Mark Hamill is really funny. I NEVER thought I would say THAT.

  6. Stag Party Palin says:

    I must get a copy of Big Red One. Until now my iconic WWII movies have been Saving Private Ryan and Das Boot, both of which I have to have saved up a lot of resolve to revisit.

    • I first saw Saving Private Ryan at a special screening in the old Springfield (MA) Armory. The place was packed with men around 80, many wearing their VFW hats.

      It humbles you.

      • ajay says:

        If you went to see Saving Private Ryan and left the cinema after 20 minutes, you would have seen one of the most moving and impressive depictions of warfare ever filmed.
        If you went to see it and only sat down 20 minutes in, you’d have seen a pretty mediocre piece of cinema.
        It’s always the Omaha Beach scene that people talk about, you notice that? No one ever says “Fantastic film; the battle scene at the end was overwhelming, and the characterisation was terrific” – because it wasn’t. Cut the first 20 minutes off it and you’ve got something pretty substandard to be frank.

        • Stag Party Palin says:

          Cut the last 20 minutes off of Casablanca and you’ve got a good movie without a great ending.

          C’mon, lighten up here. You can’t cut a movie up like sausages. The beginning of SPR sets up what comes. These guys survive hell but then get caught in the politics, benign as they may be, and don’t survive that. Whether PR himself is a good guy or a bad guy, whatever. Each to his own taste. If most of what happens is variation #22b on the War is Hell plot, then Casablanca variation #13c on boy meets girl, boy loses girl plot.

          And, I might add, the music in both is very fine. Not a small thing.

      • lawguy says:

        As a kid I went to see every war movie that came to town. I suspect Speilberg did to. After the first 20 minutes there is nothing but one cliche after another. I could mostly name the movies I’d first seen them in.

    • steverino says:

      It was recommended to me and the other non-quals on my first sub (USS Kamehameha SSBN-642) that we go see “Das Boot” when it first came out, due to the excellent depiction of damage control.

      Curiously enough, we did go back to the boat after the movie, rather than transferring to the Air Force or something.

  7. Jim Lynch says:

    Ajay: A 80 year old WW2 vet I knew (who was also a film fanatic) remarked that he felt Spielberg should have portrayed Ryan as being an asshole, unworthy of the squad’s sacrifice. That hadn’t occurred to me, but I agreed. It certainly would have been an improved departure from an otherwise cookie cutter plot line.

  8. Erik Loomis says:

    I know that everyone was excited when The Big Red One was re-released 5 or 6 years ago. But I have consistently found it my least favorite Fuller film I have seen. Not only are films like Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss more to my liking, but earlier films like House of Bamboo and The Baron of Arizona.

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