I thought of the image in Saving Private Ryan where Sizemore puts sand in a tin from Omaha Beach in his bag with tins labelled North Africa and Sicily. It's a good cinematic shorthand for "veteran" soldier.
This reminded me. My original plan was to simply post
Saving Private Ryan < The Big Red One
but then I found Teproc's review, which provoked a much deeper exploration. Certainly beats me just flapping my brain cells for 2-3 paragraphs.
In Big Red, there's a new member of the company who tries to win their favor by bringing them water to wash off the rock dust. The eager beaver routine is something I've seen before, but I loved the way the rest of the company silently distanced themselves from the kid, especially when he seemed confused as to why he might be killed so long as he he watched out and did what he was told. As an audience member, I can understand where the kid is coming from, but also why this is a stupid way of thinking. By now we were viewing things like the veteran soldiers.
I'd add that there were Highland Regiments who had disrupted the German advance to allow the Dunkirk evacuation, who, by Normandy, had basically fought themselves to a standstill and became ineffective.
That's really interesting. Would love to see someone dramatize that.
Your words on button pushing highlight why I see Fuller's value but often don't like it. Much like DePalma's visuals it's certainly effective, but heightened to a degree that it's hard to not go "come on, get off your throne." If you can resist that urge - something I can't do with Fuller but easily do with DePalma - you may just want to applaud such bold tactics.