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The Big Red One (Widescreen/Full Screen)

3.4 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Kelly Ward
  • Directors: Samuel Fuller
  • Writers: Samuel Fuller
  • Producers: Brian Jamieson, Douglas Freeman, Gene Corman, Richard Schickel
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Release Date: April 27 1999
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 0790741814
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,773 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

The Big Red One

In Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg depicts the D-day landings with a realism lauded by veterans. The Big Red One depicts the D-day landings, too, and it was made by a veteran. Writer-director Samuel Fuller, who served in the First Infantry Division from North Africa to Czechoslovakia (including the Normandy landings), made a career out of swift, punchy B movies, such as Pickup on South Street and The Naked Kiss. The Big Red One became Fuller's nod to A-movie filmmaking, yet it has the solid, matter-of-fact perspective of the ground-level infantryman. The episodic action ranges all over the European theater, as a tough squad of American GIs (including Mark Hamill and Robert Carradine) follow their hard-bitten sergeant (Lee Marvin, at his best) and try to stay alive. Filmed mostly in Israel, the film delivers on the requisite war-movie conventions and tough-guy humor but also introduces notes of poetry. Fuller's D-day doesn't match the pyrotechnics of Spielberg's version, but it creates power from the simple image of a dead soldier's watch, ticking away in blood-soaked surf. A fine and memorable picture, The Big Red One might have been even greater had it been released in Fuller's full-length cut--someday perhaps a restoration will allow the director's vision to be seen for the first time. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This re-construction of the hacked up mess that was 'The Big Red One' is the pet project of film critic, Richard Schickel. I have other DVDs with Schickel doing commentaries. He's okay. He knows his film history, but I always find his comments sort of on the surface. He doesn't achieve the depth of analysis that I like when I listen to someone like Christopher Frayling. And, since this is his project and he loves Sam Fuller, he's a bit blind to the merits of the film itself. In my humble opinion, except for David Lean, film directors working prior to the 1990s make better films from short, tight, concise scripts than sprawling, boring, never-ending Epic screenplays and Mr. Fuller is no exception. This film simply has too much in it... Sam's actual experiences in WWII, from N. Africa to Sicily to France to Belgium to Germany to Czechoslovakia. Way too much. Spread too thin, Lots of short choppy scenes. Think about "Private Ryan". They land on the beach, they get the mission, they go 50 miles inland, they find Ryan, they defend the bridge... end of story. You know? Less is more.
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Two or three times during this movie Lee Marvin makes subtle faces and body movements which are superb. You have to hang a star on him.
The rest of this movie is best described as "five or six scripts rejected as unworkable from the old TV show 'Combat', loosely threaded together, with little or no underlying theme or plot to the movie.
Every war movie cliche is present, the bravado lines are obviously and painfully conjured up by Hollywood writers, and from this point it gets worse.
The movie doesn't, at any point, make any military sense. A GI decides to hide by running out of the hills and into the open, (?) where he digs a hole(??) with enought time to dig a four or five foot deep hole (??) but gets squished by getting run over by a tank (Uh... the pounds/sq inch under a tank tread is pretty low actually, the hole would not collapse).
Sicily: hiding in a cave and ambushing Germans one by one. Without any context to this event in the big picture of Sicilian ops, this scene was just plain painfully unrealistic to watch. I found myself offended that anybody would believe an audience would believe this scene. Why couldn't they film a REALISTIC scene to make whatever point they were trying to make?
D-Day: Since you never see more than sixteen people at any one time there is absolutely no sense of the sweeping scale of the invasion. There is almost no sense of terror, little sense of carnage, little sense of loss when American soldiers were getting killed. This is where the total lack of military tactics really starts shutting down the movie. Why did they send one man at a time out with the bangor (sp?) mines? Was it to add suspense at the cost of total unrealism? It seems so.
And what was up with the snipers?
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Format: DVD
Sarge (Lee Marvin), first saw combat near the end of WWI. Now, years later, in North Africa in WWII he is a grizzled, war weary, seen it all veteran. Nevertheless, he's still resolute in his duty and a proud wearer of the Red #1 arm patch insignia of the US 1st Infantry Division. He is leader, father, mother, coach and whatever else he needs to be to get his rifle squad through the war. The four principal characters of interest are Griff (Mark Hamill), an expert riflemen but one who can't shoot the enemy if he sees his eyes; he calls it murder, Sarge says otherwise. There is Zab (Robert Carradine) who's main purpose is narrator, his musings provide background and setting; the other two are Johnson and Vinci. We follow this group throughout the movie and the war from North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Belgium and finally to a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia for a series of emotionally powerful concluding scenes.
There is no glorification of war here; indeed the message is very clear - the only glory in war is surviving. The movie is very creative in introducing characters whose sole purpose, with their demise, is to underline this message. The short careers of both Lemchek and Kaiser are cases in point. The battle scenes are weak and unrealistic but that's not the emphasis. The action scenes that are memorable are the ones with a subtle message; the camera focusing in on the dead soldiers wristwatch in the surf of Normandy, the water turning red with the passing of time; the scene at the asylum in France and the concentration camp scene where Griff overcomes his compunction about shooting while seeing the whites of his enemies eyes.
It's a well crafted movie, with some strong acting from Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill and a movie which delivers it's message in a well thought out and strong ending.
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Format: DVD
Sam Fuller waited for years to make this film based on his experiences as a dogface with the famed First Division and he has left us with a minor masterpiece of film story-telling. Fuller did not have the budget of a Spielberg (in fact he had a rather limited budget) so the invasion of Normandy and other scenes are not sweepingly epic. (Just imagine if he had.) But that is not the point. It is a tale of rememberance & by nature episodic & anecdotal.
The original cut was over 4 hours, Fuller eventually cut it to about 2 1/2 then the studio cut it to 113 minutes--one can only imagine what is missing. Even so the film builds an incredible power, not cathartic but a weary experience of survival, which as the film states is the only glory in war.
Lee Marvin gives an amazingly nuanced performance as the "Sergeant", Robert Carridine does an amusing turn as Zap, Fuller's alter-ego and Mark Hamill is effective as conscious stricken Griff.
If you have not seen Fuller's other war films ("The Steel Helmet", which looks like it was made for 1.98, but is quite amazing; "Fixed Bayonets" & "Merrill's Marauders") they are well worth seeking out, as are his other non-war films.
Sam Fuller said that the only way for a movie audience to truly experience war was to have someone come out in front of the screen & start spraying the audience with gunfire and have the person sitting next to you shot to pieces. I think that I will stick with his films.
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