The Big Red One

Synopsis: The story of a hardened army Sergeant and four of his men from their first fight at the Kasserine Pass after the invasion of North Africa through to the invasion of Sicily, D-Day, the Ardennes forest and the liberation of a concentration camp at the end of the war. As the five of them fight - and survive to fight yet again in the next battle - new recruits joining the squad are swatted down by the enemy on a regular basis. The four privates are naturally reluctant to get to know any of the new recruits joining the squad, who become just a series of nameless faces.
Genre: Drama, War
Director(s): Samuel Fuller
Production: United Artists
  2 wins & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
113 min


- Permission to enter?

- Come.

Where's the rest of

the company, captain?

Where do you think?

Moved out with the battalion.

I've been waiting here for you.

- You took your time getting back.

- I got lost in the smoke.

What happened to your gun?

Have you ever seen a

shell-shocked horse?

He stomped all over me and got my

rifle, knocked it to smithereens.

Well, I suppose horses have as much right

to go crazy in this war as men have.


What do you think?

What the hell is it?

It's a "one." First

Infantry Division.

The Red One. You think General

Pershing will like it?

- Oh, sure.

- Got the idea from a cap of a Hun I killed.

- When?

- Oh, about an hour ago.

Did he yell out anything?

Well, the same old kaiser stuff, you

know, "The war is over," all that junk.

- Finish it.

- Sir?

Finish it.

The armistice was signed

at 11:
00 this morning.

The war's been over for four hours.

Well, you didn't know it was over.

He did.

A quarter of a century later,

that piece of red cloth...

from the dead Hun's hat had

become famous all over the world.

It was the insignia of the

1st Infantry Division.

The Fighting First,

the Big Red One.

Twenty-four years later, the Big Red

One was fighting the Krauts again.

It was World War II this time.

We were invading North Africa.

Hey, Griff.

Great! Thanks, sergeant.

We were his rifle squad.

First Squad, 1st Platoon,

I Company, 16th Infantry.

He called us his wet-noses.

Griff, he was a hell

of a sharpshooter.

Johnson was a pig farmer

with hemorrhoids.

Vinci was a street kid who played hot jazz

on the saxophone, and that's me, Zab.

I thought I was the

Hemingway of the Bronx.

You really a book writer?

- Yeah.

- What book did you write?

The Dark Deadline.

- Never heard of it.

- Never read it.

It's an unpublished mystery novel.

I left it with my mother.

Why's a book writer a rifleman?

To come out with a war novel,

meathead. Why else, huh?

What about you, Griff?

You gonna be a cartoonist...

- ...for a big newspaper or something?

- Mm-hm.

Say, Griff. You do

everything left-handed?

Everything but shoot.

And play with my pecker.

"Watch out, Vichy.

Here comes the Big Red One."


I always thought Vichy was

some kind of soda pop.

No. Vichy's the French,

fighting on Hitler's side.

Yeah, that's why we're wearing these

so they don't shoot Americans, huh?

We dropped leaflets so

they know we're coming.

But if they start a fight,

we'll have to kill them.

We were in this war to fight

Germans, not Frenchmen.

We were kind of hoping they

were feeling the same way.

Put your rubbers on and

keep the salt water out.

Thanks, Griff.

I'll bet the guy that

invented these...

- ...never figured they'd be used on a rifle.

- I never could screw with them.

- How about you, Johnson?

- Not me.

Over on the Algerian beach, French

soldiers were reading our leaflets...

and also wondering if

they were gonna fight.

The colonel is stupid not

to believe these leaflets.

We are no good. You,

me, all of us here.

Defending this miserable Algerian beach

for Marshal Ptain and Adolf Hitler.

I can't kill an American.

There were four things you

could hear on the boat:

The waves, the engines...

an occasional muffled prayer...

and the sound of 50 guys all

heaving their guts out.

French troops, don't shoot.

We are Americans.

Don't shoot. We come to fight Hitler,

not to fight with you. Don't shoot.

Hold your fire!

- Yes, colonel.

- Open fire.

Not on Americans.

Medic! Medic!

Nail him, Griff!

How the hell could you miss him?

Hell, he was close enough

to kiss on both cheeks.

What the hell's the matter with you?

I never saw you miss.

Medic! Over here.

Sixteenth Infantry, hold your fire!

Americans, this is Captain Chapter.

General Tavernier is dead.

Americans! I surrender

my troops to your hands.

Frenchmen, we do not

accept your surrender.

You surrender only to the enemy.

If you're Vichy, fight us.

If you're Frenchmen, join us!

We were feeling cocky as hell.

Except Griff.

In the middle of the

battle, he froze.

It got to Griff.

He kept away from the rest of us.

Nobody wanted to use the

word "coward," not yet.

How come we're not pushing inland?

Red Company's carrying the ball.

Take your malaria pills.

I wonder what they gave you in the

other war not to get a hard-on?

The same stuff you're wolfing

down now. It has saltpeter.

Griff's back.

I can't murder anybody.

We don't murder, we kill.

It's the same thing.

The hell it is, Griff.

You don't murder

animals, you kill them.

The truth is, none of us had the

faintest idea what war was all about.

We hadn't met the Krauts yet.

Communications Center

caught an American bomb.

These wet-noses found the phonograph

and one record undamaged.

Look at the faces of these

puppies, Schroeder.

They think the Horst

Wessel song is so...

Horst Wessel was a pimp who supplied

Hitler with baby faces like you.

He was killed in a brawl,

over a whore in Berlin.

A poem by a pimp became the

hymn of Hitler's party.

Is that right, Schroeder?

Don't want to disillusion

these infants, huh?

You're getting soft.

Schroeder used to be tough. In Libya,

I saw him murder a German officer.

I didn't murder him,

Gerd, I killed him...

when he ran from a fight

with the British.

Murder. Killed.

It's the same thing.

We don't murder the enemy, we kill.

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Samuel Fuller

Samuel Michael Fuller (August 12, 1912 – October 30, 1997) was an American screenwriter, novelist, and film director known for low-budget, understated genre movies with controversial themes, often made outside the conventional studio system. Fuller wrote his first screenplay for Hats Off in 1936, and made his directorial debut with the Western I Shot Jesse James (1949). He would continue to direct several other Westerns and war thrillers throughout the 1950s. Fuller shifted from Westerns and war thrillers in the 1960s with his low-budget thriller Shock Corridor in 1963, followed by the neo-noir The Naked Kiss (1964). He was inactive in filmmaking for most of the 1970s, before writing and directing the war epic The Big Red One (1980), and the experimental White Dog (1982), whose screenplay he co-wrote with Curtis Hanson. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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