With Memorial Day coming up on Monday 5/28, I would like to thank the all active members and veterans of the armed forces for their service and sacrifice.
One of my favorite movie genres has always been the combat film. Not so much for the action sequences, but for the characters. Growing up in the 70’s, there was always a WWII or Korean War film playing on Saturday afternoons. Some of my favorites:
Sahara, Battlefront, Von Ryan’s Express, The Great Escape, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Steel Helmet, The Green Berets, and Sergeant York
Some notable films to watch on TV this Memorial Day weekend:
Turner Classic Movies:
The Steel Helmet (Sunday 5/27 at 4:45 PM)
Sergeant York (Sunday 5/27 at 8:00 PM)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (Sunday 5/27 at 10:30 PM)
The Green Berets (Monday 5/28 at 9:15 PM)
The Great Escape (Monday 5/28 at 11:00 PM)
Spike TV will run a marathon of all ten episodes of Band of Brothers on Monday 5/28 from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
Of all of the war films I’ve seen, Sam Fuller’s The Big Red One (1980) is my favorite of the bunch.
Written and directed by the legendary Sam Fuller, this film was a based on his personal experiences as a GI in World War II. The main character Private Zab (played in the film by Robert Carradine) is based on Fuller. The film follows The Sergeant (played by Lee Marvin) and four members of his squad called The Four Horsemen (played by Carradine, Kelly Ward, Bobby DiCicco, and Mark Hamill) through Africa and Europe from 1943-1945. But this film only scratches the surface of Sam Fuller’s experiences during the war. I highly recommend Fuller’s autobiography A Third Face for more about this part of his life.
I had the opportunity to interview Mark Hamill at the 2011 New York Comic Con. He was there to promote a comic book project he was involved with, but I couldn’t help asking him about his experience working with both Sam Fuller and Lee Marvin on The Big Red One:
Hamill: Oh my God, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned more about World War II from them than I ever learned in history books. Because they were both veterans. With all due respect to Steven Spielberg, it’s second hand from him. With Sam you’d go “This is crazy, why would I do this?” And he would say “Well I’ll tell ya it wasn’t you, it was a guy by the name of Colowitz, and he was handsome like you…” And he would tell you what really happened! It was just probably the most profound experience of my career. I can’t think of a director I like better than Sam. And Lee Marvin was not only a brilliant actor but an amazing storyteller and a hilarious person. Boy was he funny. And I could make him laugh, which he loved. He loved to laugh. He was not an attention hog, he loved to hear stories from you. Yeah, he was fantastic.