(1951) is a war film
written and directed by Samuel Fuller
and produced by Twentieth Century-Fox
during the Korean War
. It is Fuller's second film about the Korean War. In his motion picture debut, James Dean
appears briefly in the film.
The film is set in the first winter of the Korean War during the Red Chinese intervention . The story follows the fate of a lone 48 man platoon left as a rear guard to defend a choke point, to cover the withdrawal of their division over an exposed bridge. The subplot explores the psychological makeup of the individuals charged with leadership of the platoon, and therein examines the nature of service and valor. Ultimately command of the platoon falls upon Cpl. Denno (Richard Basehart), who has an innate aversion to responsibility for the lives of others.
Fixed Bayonets! was the first film of a seven picture deal between Twentieth Century-Fox and writer/director Fuller. Fox had been impressed with Fuller's The Steel Helmet and sought to better the imitations of that film on the then topical subject of the Korean War.
Having had problems with Fuller's The Steel Helmet, The U.S. Army assigned Medal of Honor recipient Raymond Harvey as the film's technical advisor. Samuel Fuller, himself a decorated World War II veteran, forged a bond with Harvey which endured; Harvey again served as technical adviser in the 1958 film Verboten!. Fixed Bayonets! is also noteworthy as the first appearance, albeit uncredited, of James Dean in a feature film.
Though an original story, Darryl F. Zanuck thought the story of the reluctant Richard Basehart's unwillingness to take command was reminiscent of Fox's Immortal Sergeant and Fox ordered a screen credit for the writer of that film.
Fuller relates that with the large number of action films made during the time, the film had trouble getting some extras for the opening retreat scene. A production assistant was able to find some dancers from a musical and after costuming, Fuller had them convincingly simulate fatigue and depression by loading their uniforms and packs with heavy weights.
Though the US 1st Infantry Division did not serve in Korea, Fuller names his General and Regimental Commander after his the men he served under in "The Big Red One" Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr. and George A. Taylor as well as making the Regiments the ones of the Division in World War II, the 16th, 18th and 26th.