"The Big Red One" was based on director/screenwriter Sam Fuller's personal experiences as a soldier in World War II. The Robert Carradine character is based directly on Fuller himself.
Film was first proposed as a project for John Wayne in the 1950s.
Title refers to the First Infantry Division, known as "The Big Red One" because of the red one which adorned its shoulder patch and helmet insignia. The symbol was designed by an artist in 1918 and incorporated the red piping from a German soldier's forage cap.
Additional cast: Charles Macauley (as General/Captain), Alain Doutey (Broban), Colin Gilbert (Dog Face POW), Joseph Clark (Shep), Ken Campbell (Lemchek), Doug Werner (Switolski), Perry Lang (Kaiser), Howard Delman (Smitty), Marthe Villalonga (Madame Marbaise), Giovanna Galetti (Woman in Sicilian Village), Gregori Buimistre (German), Shimon Barr (German Male Nurse), Matteo Zoffoli (Sicilian Boy), Avraham Ronai (German Field Marshal), and Galit Rotman (Pregnant Frenchwoman).
Additional crew: William Hankins (Props), Craig Corman (Production assistant), Roy Street (Stunt horseman), and Alan Weisman (Gunsmith).
"The Big Red One" originally ran 140 minutes, but was cut by the studio down to 113 minutes, with the director's apparent approval.
Color by Metrocolor. Prints by Technicolor. Titles by MGM.
Filmed on location, with Israel standing in for North Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. Scenes depicting the Rhine Valley were filmed in Ireland and featured Fuller's wife, Christa Lang, but were eventually cut from the film.
Rated BBFC AA by the British Board of Film Censors.