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short takes (2)

The Big Red One was written and directed by Samuel Fuller, an almost legendary filmmaker who has been churning out low-budget war movies, westerns, and melodramas for more than 30 years. Generally, his pictures are marked by ornery stories, visual imagination, and an energy that approaches frenzy. His latest, a World War II drama, puts crazy twists on all the old formulas -- sometimes you can't be sure of anything on the screen, including who's alive and who's dead. It's a violent and distasteful experience, in spots. But it has more vigor than almost any other movie this season.