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Filmspotting Message Boards => Movie Talk => Directors => Topic started by: MartinTeller on October 08, 2010, 03:58:56 PM

Title: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: MartinTeller on October 08, 2010, 03:58:56 PM
(http://i53.tinypic.com/2gv4f43.jpg)
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: MartinTeller on October 08, 2010, 04:00:28 PM
1. Pickup on South Street
2. Forty Guns
3. The Crimson Kimono
4. House of Bamboo
5. The Big Red One
6. Underworld U.S.A.
7. Shock Corridor
8. The Naked Kiss
9. White Dog



Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: ˇKeith! on October 08, 2010, 04:05:21 PM
have The Big Red One on my shelf - I should open it.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: Adrienne on October 08, 2010, 04:38:37 PM
Pickup on South Street
Everyone should see this.
Richard Widmark is  :-*  :-*  :-*  :-*  :-*
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: sdedalus on October 09, 2010, 02:38:18 AM
1. Steel Helmet
2. Big Red One
3. Park Row
4. Pickup on South Street
5. Shock Corridor
6. Naked Kiss
7. White Dog
8. Forty Guns
9. House of  Bamboo
10. Underworld USA
11. Jesse James
12. Fixed Bayonets!
13. Baron of Arizona
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: Mike Shutt on October 09, 2010, 08:39:40 AM
The Big Red One
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: Bill Thompson on October 09, 2010, 04:00:10 PM
Middling/Boring
1) The Big Red One
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: oneaprilday on October 09, 2010, 04:03:00 PM
Haven't seen any
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: roujin on March 19, 2011, 11:39:20 PM
(http://i56.tinypic.com/27wydna.jpg)
Pickup on South Street Sam Fuller, 1953

Richard Widmark, who never met a sneer he didn't like, picks the pocket of some random girl, but then it turns out what he stole was actually kinda important. Some commie business or other. Then everything gets loopy. More attitude than anything else, Widmark goes around trying to find out what he's got, sell it to the highest bidder and make with the dough, all at the cost of the good ole USA. Even when you think he's going straight, he just goes right back. His kisses tell nothing but lies, his looks tell you nothing of his plans, until you're betrayed and find out. Thelma Ritter then shows up, classes up the joint for a while and lends gravitas to the proceedings, but then Widmark leers some more and drags us right down the gutter. Forceful, gutsy and probably crazy.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: Antares on January 04, 2013, 05:40:24 PM
Pickup on South Street

Merrill's Marauders
I Shot Jesse James


Forty Guns
House of Bamboo
The Big Red One
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: roujin on January 05, 2013, 01:01:06 AM
(http://i1258.photobucket.com/albums/ii537/roujinz/film%20500/fixedbayonets_zps1e77d957.png)
Fixed Bayonets! (Samuel Fuller, 1951)

Basically a depiction of several tense situations (braving a mine field, facing off against a tank etc). Would make a good double bill with what appears to be its sister film, The Steel Helmet (though this one lacks that film's racial subject matter). Instead, it's all about men at war; the constant change of who is in command, the guy who needs to get his first kill, the bickering, lingo, rituals and little details that are so lived in and understood that they're casually tossed off and treated with no more importance than anything else. The guy from The Steel Helmet is arguably the star, but more than anything the camaraderie between men is the focus; just some men huddled together, trying to stay warm, nothing gay about that.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: pixote on July 07, 2014, 11:56:50 AM
A review of Shock Corridor (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=12095.msg774566#msg774566), for posterity.

pixote
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: roujin on August 20, 2014, 12:58:17 PM
1. The Steel Helmet (1951)
2. Pickup on South Street (1953)
3. Fixed Bayonets! (1951)
4. Park Row (1952)
5. Forty Guns (1957)
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: smirnoff on October 11, 2014, 06:03:36 PM
Run of the Arrow (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=12547.msg784280#msg784280)
Forty Guns (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=11122.msg669360#msg669360)
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: 1SO on January 21, 2015, 12:40:31 AM
I Shot Jesse James (1949)
★ ★ ˝

I've seen 4 different versions of the story of the coward Robert Ford. The most well known (with the long title) has Casey Affleck as Ford, though he's upstaged by Sam Rockwell getting to do all the haunted, hollowed out emotions as Robert's brother Charley. In the epic Jesse James/The Return of Frank James (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9038.msg780517#msg780517), John Carradine etches the most memorable portrayal of Robert Ford. Here Fuller makes Jesse a cameo for his Bob Ford. John Ireland has the most screen time with Bob, but is more of a character actor than a leading man. He lets Fuller and the legend carry him while he constantly looks scared and tense.

I'm not a big fan of Fuller, whose scripts often have the thud of a blunt instrument. I have a couple of Noir favorites, which I plan to re-watch before posting a ranked list, but this is more in line with his typical work. Jesse makes himself such an inviting target it's more comical than tense, and often the dialogue tells you the precise psychological intent of each scene. It's a tabloid journalism version of an elegant fable, but that also makes it unique enough on its own to be worth a look, even if you've seen the other films. There is one terrific scene (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=12835.msg792330#msg792330) where a musician enters a bar and sings a popular favorite about "the dirty little coward" unaware that Ford is in the bar.

I mentioned a 4th version. That would be The Long Riders, which features some of the same characters but ends right about where I Shot Jesse James begins.
Title: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on January 22, 2015, 01:50:51 AM
1. Pickup on South Street
2. The Big Red One
3. The Crimson Kimono
4. Park Row
5. The Baron of Arizona
6. The Steel Helmet
7. I Shot Jesse James
8. Underworld U.S.A.
9. Shock Corridor
10. Fixed Bayonets
11. House of Bamboo
12. White Dog
13. The Naked Kiss
14. Forty Guns
15. Run of the Arrow
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: verbALs on June 22, 2015, 03:43:11 PM
The Steel Helmet is this snarling thing. The direction snarls and snaps and roars.

What is remarkable is how this easy handling of racial multiplicity and of hate and prejudice in its rawest form; informs Fuller work of years later. White Dog is dismissed because a lot of people are affronted by precisely similar snarling and snapping when applied to this most uncomfortable subject. Whether Fuller totally misfire isn't as important as the steep approach Fuller employs. By doing something radically different in this area he throws a blistering actinic spotlight on to it. He can't help but to add to the discussion. He challenges. He similarly challenges a 50s view of racism but the force in impact is subtle by comparison. All he does is make his racial characters cool. The best soldier. The most caring medic. He does a similar thing with the damn cool cop in his later cop drama Crimson Kimono. Fuller as newsprint: soldier is a precious thing.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: smirnoff on June 22, 2015, 03:52:09 PM
11. Run of the Arrow

His one good film imo. :P

(I've seen 2, lol)
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on June 23, 2015, 02:13:12 PM
Run of the Arrow is the next of his (last of his) I want to find. Did you review it? Can't remember why you liked it.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: smirnoff on June 23, 2015, 02:41:03 PM
Here's the relevant bits.

I was excited to see this precisely because of Sam Fuller's involvement. Not that I've liked any of his films, I just know he's different. And that's what these '57 westerns need, someone who's pushing the envelope in some way. If I watch another vanilla, rosy-cheeked gee-willikers interpretation of the west I'll pull my stovepipe hat down over my face and walk off a cliff.

Quote from: imdb
The first film to use squibs to simulate realistic bullet impacts.

Wow, you don't usually find something this legendary in the trivia section on imdb. I don't know if it's true but anything that improves on guys clutching their chests and falling over is a win in my book. Weirdly they didn't use the squibs in the way you'd think, under someone's clothing or something, instead they put them in the rocks around where a characters were and they'd go off as if someone had shot the rocks and they'd die. I dunno, it was kind of weird. It made it look like characters were dying from the debris of missed shots.

It's a gritty western for more reasons that just flying rocks though. The characters are gritty too. Not in the classic hardened gun-fighter sense but in the hardened by a hard life sense. Characters with weathered faced and such. Charles Bronson plays the Chief and he's the most fair-featured of all the men. What does that tell you! He's also shredded like he's got a Mr. Olympia tournament to go to after shooting. He makes the rest of his tribe look like wimps. Even back then though he was a cool presence.

I especially liked Jay C. Flippen as the Sioux scout Walking Coyote. Just a weird character made weirder by the haphazard native American wardrobe and make-up. For me it worked though because the character had interesting things to say. A lot of the dialogue is that way... it's not a film that rushes through the talking scenes, those are actually the best parts. They're long, they don't have any cuts, and they engage you with the character.

Solid, confident and inventive film. Rather unpolished in a few respects. It brings something different to the table.

It's hard to explain what a departure it is from the tone of most of the westerns from that time. Really refreshing to get something that odd, and that compelling, story-wise. As I recall it's really short too, and I think that helps tremendously. Yeah, 86 minutes... hard to get impatient at that speed.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on June 23, 2015, 03:04:25 PM
Yeah Steel Helmet wasn't like many/any war movies Ive seen. Certainly not from so long ago. Fresh.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: pixote on June 23, 2015, 03:05:34 PM
Yeah Steel Helmet wasn't like many/any war movies Ive seen. Certainly not from so long ago. Fresh.

I wasn't having much love for Sam Fuller films recently ... until I finally got to The Steel Helmet.

pixote
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: verbALs on July 08, 2015, 02:51:39 AM
1. Pickup on South Street
2. Shock Corridor
3. White Dog
4. The Steel Helmet
5. The Naked Kiss
6. The Crimson Kimono
7. Fixed Bayonets!
8. I Shot Jesse James
9. Forty Guns
10. The Big Red One
11. The Baron of Arizona
12. House of Bamboo
13. Hell and High Water

Being an Indie director 40 years before indie film is;

a) ballsy
b) insane
c) admirable
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: Corndog on March 29, 2016, 03:07:33 PM
1. Pickup on South Street (3.5)
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on May 27, 2016, 12:36:39 AM
After my re-watch, I'm not as interested in posting my thoughts on The Big Red One as I am in having a conversation with Teproc about it.

The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980)

1/10

MY RATING: * * * 1/2

I say "conversation" instead of argument because I disagree with Teproc on a couple of specific points, but in general I share his view of Fuller. Unfortunately, now is not the time to begin this conversation. The hour is late and I have to get up early tomorrow.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on May 27, 2016, 12:38:11 AM
1SO. I like your style. ;D

I look forward to the conversation.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: Teproc on May 27, 2016, 02:50:18 AM
After my re-watch, I'm not as interested in posting my thoughts on The Big Red One as I am in having a conversation with Teproc about it.

The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980)

1/10

MY RATING: * * * 1/2

I say "conversation" instead of argument because I disagree with Teproc on a couple of specific points, but in general I share his view of Fuller. Unfortunately, now is not the time to begin this conversation. The hour is late and I have to get up early tomorrow.

Sure. I'm curious what those points are, and I'm not entirely sure what I think about Fuller (aside from not being a fan), so that should be interesting.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on May 27, 2016, 03:44:28 AM
I think if you saw the two Fuller films in that marathon then you probably do have a pretty good idea of whether he is a director for you. TBRO on its own feels quite unrepresentative. Shock Corrdor to me is right in his zone; something lurid, something of a message; so it gives a good perspective on his work. I like Fullers early war films which are small actions rather than skipping over history the way TBRO attempts. It's one of his poorer films for me.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on May 27, 2016, 04:34:26 PM
I also watched the theatrical cut of The Big Red One. I've never been interested in the other version.

I'm going to start by springing off of verbALs comment. I've seen 11 by Fuller, recommend 5 and my two favorites - The Big Red One and Pickup on South Street - demonstrate a lighter hand compared to typical Fuller fare. There's a great example of typical Fuller in Big Red One at the insane asylum, one of my least favorite scenes in the film. One of the inmates picks up a machine gun and starts to kill everyone. The point is made just fine, war = insanity. However, Fuller goes the extra mile to have the man shout, "I am one of you. I am sane."

That enforced connection of theme is what makes Fuller so distinct, and it forms the arteries and veins of Shock Corridor. Like Paul Verhoeven, he's not just pushing buttons, he wants you to be aware that he knows he's pushing your button and even though you know what he's doing, it's not going to stop him. It encourages him. This is why I come down on not being a fan of Fuller. He's too happy to rely on cheap and easy effects at the expense of three-dimensional characters. (I'm thinking specifically of the opening scene to The Naked Kiss and all of White Dog.)

The Big Red One isn't nearly as exaggerated, which isn't to say Fuller has lobotomized his style. I love the image of Lee Marvin disguised as an Arab, chomping on his cigar through a layer of wardrobe. Marvin tells his men that "killing is not murder" and in the very next scene we hear a German leader tell his soldiers the same thing. That's Fuller all over. See also the French leader who insists his men should fire on the arriving Americans, including the image of the leader dead, but still firing at Marvin and his men. It's blackly absurdly funny, but just inside believability.

Compare the way authority is treated in that scene to a later one where the team is looking for snipers and Marvin puts one of his best men on point. ("You know how to smoke out a sniper? You send a guy out in the open and you see if he gets shot.") The soldier then puts Marvin in mock danger and that one-upsmanship actually earns the respect of his superior.

The only time Fuller takes it too far is in that insane asylum and during a disorienting hospital scene where somebody comes looking for Marvin and he escapes in a shootout. (I honestly don't know what was going on there.) It's also typical of Fuller that he keeps it small. There are no epic battle scenes, and even the ones that normally suggest a large scale (like D-Day) stay focused on the five core men of the 1st Infantry. It's weird that these five seem to travel across all four corners of Europe. It's a theatrical convenience that I could see someone having a problem with, true as it may have been.

Teproc, if your eyes haven't glazed over you may have gotten that The Big Red One isn't a parody, but Fuller's absurdism does skewer the story in a satirical way. Scenes like the opening kill by Marvin and the way it comes back at the end with Marvin threatening, "You're gonna live if I have to blow your brains out." I don't think Fuller has made an anti-war film, but one that repeats over and over that the very idea of war is insane. That you can justify killing as being different from murder, that it's your job, but that's something only an insane person would do.

Your review smacks of things I would likely say if this was one of my first by Fuller. The only place where I specifically disagree with you is that concentration camp finale. I thought the images, with the soldiers surrounded by sunshine looking at the lean, haunted, ghost-like faces surrounded by shadow and ash clouds, is Fuller at his best. Those moments really grounded the film hard, right when it needed to. It humanizes Lee Marvin's character in a way you don't expect Fuller to even try. You can (and do) argue that it's wrong to have the boy there to suit the needs of the American soldier, but that's who we've been following. It's not the kids story. That's a different film.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on May 28, 2016, 01:31:15 AM
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. It reminded me of Patton as well, which follows the course of tank divisions and infantry through the same theatres; which also showed that the tank battles of African deserts becomes hand to hand in Normandy. It impresses me because Band of Brothers shows that paratroopers were an effective fighting force from 1944 onwards but infantry had been in the war for two years longer and would go on to fight in the Ardennes as well. I agree that the idea that these men fought for over three years seems astounding. 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.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: Teproc on May 28, 2016, 03:19:22 AM
The Big Red One isn't nearly as exaggerated, which isn't to say Fuller has lobotomized his style. I love the image of Lee Marvin disguised as an Arab, chomping on his cigar through a layer of wardrobe. Marvin tells his men that "killing is not murder" and in the very next scene we hear a German leader tell his soldiers the same thing. That's Fuller all over. See also the French leader who insists his men should fire on the arriving Americans, including the image of the leader dead, but still firing at Marvin and his men. It's blackly absurdly funny, but just inside believability.

What you don't mention here is that the French leader is then killed, and all the soldiers immediately decide to lay down their arms and join the Americans because they didn't want to shoot at them in the first place. My problem with the Big Red One (well, one of them) is that Fuller seems to be completely torn between a desire to denounce/satirize war (the asylum scene, the attitude towards death and killing) and celebrate it : the ending of course, but really the whole film felt schizophrenic to me in that respect, and the concentration camp scene is the worst of it. You see it as a way to humanize Lee Marvin's character : I'd go further and say it seeks to make him into a hero.

Now ambiguity isn't a bad thing, but it didn't feel like ambiguity to me as much as Fuller theoretically wanting to make a film satirizing war and ending up doing a piece of propaganda. It's not so much "war is insane", as "war is really tough but ultimately worth it and soldiers are clearly heroes to be celebrated". To be clear : I don't think it's an invalid point of view to have, but the film is too schizophrenic about it to even come close to making it work.

What do you think about the constant sunny weather throughout the film ? It makes it look like they're on vacation almost, contributes to it feeling like an asepticized version of war. Basically I founds the film to be completey thematically dissonant, and the concentration camp scene was the confirmation of that : you're saying it humanizes Lee Marvin's character, but he is always portrayed positively throughout ! Yeah he's rough, but he's the leader and he cares about his core group of guys : I don't think there's any attempt to make us feel ambiguous towards him : he's the typical sergeant character in those war films.

It feels as if we saw different films, which... I'd rather have seen your version.  :-\
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on May 28, 2016, 08:58:35 AM
Re Fuller pushing buttons.

Fuller has a personal hinterland that suggests to me a better understanding of the human condition than a lot of directors. That background in newspapers is something to consider. Newspapers sell more copy based in their ability to manipulate factual events into headlines and pieces that speak to people's interests. Their primal interests. So correctly calling this button pushing.

Now this refers to a lot of writing done here. I feel like Ive spent enough time out in the world to know how people will react to words written in a certain way. Is that good writing? Writing to get an intended reaction? Clearly that's another way of saying button pushing isn't it? Yet one thing I e questioned PMing Sandy is that if I want to write something but I have a fairly good idea what sort of reaction it will engender; then should I write it?  I feel it's a valid thing to say but I can tell from experience that someone won't like it. Now....is that button pushing? I wouldn't blame the reader for their reaction but I don't feel in turn to blame for that response. Certainly not if its a subject I want to explore. I recognise this in Fuller. It's clear that he went for some big buttons but in the case of White Dog that in itself does not, to my mind, make it inflammatory. The film is examined for racism because it is hitting those targets so hard. I personally find it admirable and bold. If it comes across as obvious or unsubtle instead then I think that's a personal choice. I'm happy to find subtlety from other sources but I don't need a conformity. Fullers tone is so unique. I value it for that reason but if he was just shouting loudly (something I find isn't a problem in writing ) it would be less interesting than it is. I find it ludicrous that White Dog say is accused of racism as if making a film about racism and making it so explicit means it isn't intelligent and searching. As if a simple pure aim in a subject and as if knowing exactly what response it will provoke somehow negates its validity.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on May 28, 2016, 12:41:38 PM
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. 
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on May 28, 2016, 01:08:04 PM
What you don't mention here is that the French leader is then killed, and all the soldiers immediately decide to lay down their arms and join the Americans because they didn't want to shoot at them in the first place.
And they were not shooting until the stupid boss came out and opened fire.

My problem with the Big Red One (well, one of them) is that Fuller seems to be completely torn between a desire to denounce/satirize war (the asylum scene, the attitude towards death and killing) and celebrate it : the ending of course, but really the whole film felt schizophrenic to me in that respect, and the concentration camp scene is the worst of it. You see it as a way to humanize Lee Marvin's character : I'd go further and say it seeks to make him into a hero.
I never saw Marvin as heroic. His men looked up to him because they don't know what happened in World War I. They say they don't understand why he signed up for another war. We know that he is a lost soul looking for redemption. He creates a difference between killing and murder, and in the first scene he commits murder. He signs up for WWII looking to right that wrong and in the end he's given the opportunity. I don't see it as making him a hero, but his soul is saved and he is no longer one of the insane war soldiers.

Now ambiguity isn't a bad thing, but it didn't feel like ambiguity to me as much as Fuller theoretically wanting to make a film satirizing war and ending up doing a piece of propaganda.
I can agree with this because starting with Platoon we saw war films that really put the screws to the whole mentality of war. I just don't see Fuller celebrating these guys. It's not a full deconstruction, but he pokes holes in their heroics all along teh way, from downplaying medals they won to making fun of the book writer, who seems to only be alive so he can sell a novel.

What do you think about the constant sunny weather throughout the film ? It makes it look like they're on vacation almost, contributes to it feeling like an asepticized version of war.
I can't fault this, but I didn't hate it. It's a visually flat look, one that I've seen in films set in Italy. Maybe that's where they filmed all of this.

It feels as if we saw different films, which... I'd rather have seen your version.  :-\
Certainly. If there was a Pvt. Ryan vs. Big Red deathmatch I believe BR1 would get creamed, even though I think people would like it. I just happen to like it to the degree of putting it above Ryan on my Essentials list.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on June 15, 2016, 11:07:02 PM
(http://imgur.com/QTwstUT.jpg)
Pickup on South Street (1953)
"I didn't pinpoint ya', honest. I gave Tiger the name of eight canons,
but that creep that was with 'em, he fingered your picture like a shot."


Before bringing the conversation around to Fuller, I want to get right to the heart of the film. What makes this a great movie is the Oscar Nominated supporting performance by Thelma Ritter (Rear Window, All About Eve). This would still be a good film without Ritter, but she fills every moment on screen with such a range of emotions and depth of character, I miss her when she's not on screen. This is a very tightly-plotted film, running only 80 minutes, but Fuller wisely indulges Ritter with extra pauses and moments within a scene, and she never makes it feel like time wasted. In her climactic scene, she underplays while hitting every emotion in the rainbow. The character is not this important on the page, but Ritter makes her the heart and soul in a heartless Noir world.

I've seen 11 by Fuller, recommend 5 and my two favorites - The Big Red One and Pickup on South Street - demonstrate a lighter hand compared to typical Fuller fare.

I was somewhat wrong about this. The dialogue here is more theatrical than typical Noir and the direction lighter only when compared to other work by Fuller. ("I'll drive you back in a hearse if you don't get the kink out of your mouth!") It's the one time his stylized, tough attitude doesn't veer into camp or melodrama, though I don't buy the romantic angle for a second. I like the plot being about Communism instead of crime, an angle that produces more bad Noir than good, and Richard Widmark gets to be both a mean S.O.B. and the hero.
RATING: * * * 1/2
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on June 16, 2016, 12:24:17 AM
I don't recognise his tough approach veering into "camp or melodrama" but maybe you have examples; but that sounds like a contradiction- tough to camp. Not much camp outside of The Naked Kiss or 40 Guns are these the one you are thinking of. Melodrama applied to lots of directors (Almodovar, Sirk?) isn't really a perjorative at all is it?

Fuller structures the pickpocket scene on the train, the first scene, as a seduction. It's masterful in that the pair may not even be looking at each other given the circumstances. The tough love of their relationship makes it special in noir. Peters goes through hell for Widmark and it takes him a long time to recognise how resilient and how much like him she is.

Ritter is stellar but the film has much more to offer.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on June 16, 2016, 12:45:35 AM
I don't recognise his tough approach veering into "camp or melodrama" but maybe you have examples; but that sounds like a contradiction- tough to camp.
It's hard to define examples of camp because what might seems extreme to one person might not for another. It's an overly-theatrical approach used instead of a more literal, realistic one. For example, the nymphomaniac scene in Shock Corridor. Not the least bit realistic. It's a different effect Fuller is going for, much like the black klansman. I think it ends up absurd and slightly funny in a way that is not intentional. That Fuller frames a scene there so willingly is why I label it camp. Jessie James sitting in a tub asking Robert Ford to scrub his back in I Shot Jesse James, including a shot of Jesse's exposed back, completely vulnerable to the man who we know shoots him in the back... camp.

You don't have to try too hard to turn your tough dialogue and moments to camp. Just go one step too far. The woman in the opening of The Naked Kiss giving a beating with such vigor her wig falls off. A tough scene suddenly turns camp. In No Name on the Bullet (not a Fuller film), there's one bad line. Audie Murphy tells the town doctor what's going to happen, ending it with "That's my prescription. Go and fill it." The first sentence is tough enough, adding the second one makes it campy.


Fuller structures the pickpocket scene on the train, the first scene, as a seduction. It's masterful in that the pair may not even be looking at each other given the circumstances. The tough love of their relationship makes it special in noir. Peters goes through hell for Widmark and it takes him a long time to recognise how resilient and how much like him she is.

Ritter is stellar but the film has much more to offer.
Agree. Without Ritter, this is still top-shelf Fuller and one of the best Noir. She isn't the sole reason to watch the film, but she's the guarantee that this is one worth watching.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on June 16, 2016, 12:54:38 AM
I think we were differentiating Fuller and de Palma earlier along these lines. It's a matter of personal taste for a stylisation which isn't attempting to be tasteful. Is that fair do you think? Lurid might be the word I would use that has a positive slant to it, instead of camp, but I don't want a vocabulary stand off. Going from tough to camp seemed unnatural but you described the transition well. Going one step too far in dialogue can strain the credibility of a scene. I like that Jesse James scene a lot. If one has a bath in the middle of a room one might ask for passerby's to scrub those hard to reach areas! ;D
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on June 16, 2016, 01:25:57 AM
Well said. I was also thinking of DePalma, where I end up fighting in favor of the lurid touches. Body Double Spoilers Killing a girl with a drill held between your legs is also camp, but I love DePalma's audacity. Then, in case he hadn't already gone too far, there's the shot of the screw going through the ceiling with the blood corkscrewing off the bit. Had the exact same images been delivered by Sam Fuller, I might've objected. Such is the nature of supporting your heroes when they swing for the fences.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on June 16, 2016, 02:02:53 AM
Perhaps when it comes to lurid directors there can only be one. Which then begs the question. Who the modern holder of this crown is. Winding Refn comes to mind. He seems to take that step extra which I absolutely applauded in Drive but positively detested in Only God Forgives. He could go either way as he progresses but after OGF I'm not sure I have much patience reserved for him. As far as Fuller goes I don't feel like I'm letting him off for his flights of fantasy. They add to his appeal. So I guess the same would apply to de Palma for you. Neither of us are forgiving the luridness. More like we revelling in it. Everyone should have a director like that.  It's the fearlessness that makes them special.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on June 16, 2016, 09:05:43 AM
Perhaps when it comes to lurid directors there can only be one. Which then begs the question. Who the modern holder of this crown is. Winding Refn comes to mind. He seems to take that step extra which I absolutely applauded in Drive but positively detested in Only God Forgives. He could go either way as he progresses but after OGF I'm not sure I have much patience reserved for him.
I first thought of Gaspar Noe, but he's more of a shock value button-pusher, pushing way past lurid, much like Paul Verhoeven. Tarantino could be it. His style is certainly divisive, especially in how he chooses to present violence. ...and racism.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on November 08, 2016, 10:36:24 AM
House of Bamboo (1955)
* *
Inferior remake of Noir gem The Street with No Name. Sam Fuller brings in some nice Far East flavor, but the rest is oddly subdued for Fuller. While some say the gaudier the patter the better the Fuller or that a subtle film like this is best, my sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. Alive but not outrageous. Even Robert Ryan doesn't seem all that interested, and I'm really not a fan of Robert Stack, who always sounds like a salesman not a person.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on November 08, 2016, 12:28:12 PM
I just watched one and you just watched the other! ;D I never thought of House of Bamboo. I did think of T Men tho.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on November 08, 2016, 01:49:56 PM
It's a fairly typical Noir plot, infiltrating the mob, inexplicably getting the trust of the boss in a surprisingly short amount of time. The Departed has a lot of the same beats too. I prefer Lloyd Nolan to Robert Stack. Ryan and Widmark are usually about equal with me, but here the clear winner is Widmark. I like some of the location filming, which reminded me of The Naked City set in Tokyo, but I much prefer the dark shadows of Street to this film's Noir in color.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: verbALs on November 08, 2016, 01:56:30 PM
It reminded me I'm looking forward to The Infiltrator on digital. I missed it at the pictures it wasn't on for long.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on November 08, 2016, 02:42:27 PM
The first version of this story, or at least the best early version, is Bullets or Ballots. Edward G. Robinson is a disgraced(?) cop who joins up with a racket run by his old war buddy (Barton MacLane), quickly rising to become the new #2 man, which doesn't sit to well with the former 2nd in charge (Humphrey Bogart).


This Just In... Both House and Street were photographed by Joseph MacDonald, and Street was directed by William Keighley who also helmed Bullets or Ballots.
Title: Re: Fuller, Samuel
Post by: 1SO on April 29, 2018, 10:14:53 PM
Updated Rankings (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=9015.msg792442#msg792442)

(https://imgur.com/zxLoxpd.jpg)
Park Row (1952)
Phineas: He was tried by your paper.
Charity: He was tried by a jury.
Phineas: You sprung the trap.
Charity: I simply broke the story.
Phineas: The story broke his neck.
Charity: What was Charles Mott to you?
Phineas: Nothing. I just don't like trial by a newspaper

Quote from: Matt Singer
Now that's a goddamn movie.

I've been having an exceptionally good run of Discoveries this year. This makes #18, and the best of the bunch. Until recently I'd never heard of it and I didn't recognize any of the cast, but they are an excellent ensemble. The dialogue is like a two-fisted version of an Aaron Sorkin script, and while Fuller uses long takes to give the story the feel of theater, it's also his most cinematic work, with some amazing moments of Noir lighting, sound and camera movement that probably had an effect on Martin Scorsese.

(https://imgur.com/BqOThfw.jpg)
"Escort this wench back to her slaughterhouse before I throw her out of here right on her front page."

I watched the film three times, thanks to an 83-minute run time, my desire to try and get more out of the script and wanting to show it to Mrs. 1SO. (She loved it too.) Much as I love the script, it's also my biggest reservation. Fuller's tabloid dialogue sometimes obscures the dramatic meat, and he's so excited to show us how a newspaper business is run that he sometimes forgets to slow down a little and actually show us. Like with Wall Street, I'm not able to follow everything, but I'm confident the people who made the film know what they're talking about. So... I watched it three times already, and I did catch new things with each viewing.

Gene Evans plays the blustery Phineas Mitchell, who brags about one day owning the best newspaper on Park Row. He's given his chance, but there's a personal rivalry with the leading newspaper, run by Charity Hackett (Mary Welch). The two have a repulsion/attraction that sometimes feels strained because there's such venom in the words between them. I had just watched Evans in the middling Fixed Bayonets, and he was a standout of that ensemble but this is on a whole other level, and he won't go unnoticed by me again.

(https://imgur.com/gSgdDQ7.jpg)
"It's good makeup, Miss Hackett. Nice form, nice balance. Pretty as a perfect front page.
But you remind me of the obituary column."

This is Mary Welch's only feature, but she's just as remarkable. She has a certain look like no other actor I've seen, and is able to change her appearance to suit the scene, cold and hard one moment, young and beaming the next. It makes her a perfect femme fatale because you can see the trouble but also understand she's someone who knows how to get what they want.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ - Very Good
Title: Re: Director's Best: Samuel Fuller
Post by: Jeff Schroeck on February 15, 2019, 04:08:55 PM
I Shot Jesse James (1949)
★ ★ ˝

I've seen 4 different versions of the story of the coward Robert Ford. The most well known (with the long title) has Casey Affleck as Ford, though he's upstaged by Sam Rockwell getting to do all the haunted, hollowed out emotions as Robert's brother Charley. In the epic Jesse James/The Return of Frank James (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9038.msg780517#msg780517)

I'm not a big fan of Fuller, whose scripts often have the thud of a blunt instrument. I have a couple of Noir favorites, which I plan to re-watch before posting a ranked list, but this is more in line with his typical work. Jesse makes himself such an inviting target it's more comical than tense, and often the dialogue tells you the precise psychological intent of each scene. It's a tabloid journalism version of an elegant fable, but that also makes it unique enough on its own to be worth a look, even if you've seen the other films. There is one terrific scene (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=12835.msg792330#msg792330) where a musician enters a bar and sings a popular favorite about "the dirty little coward" unaware that Ford is in the bar.

I mentioned a 4th version. That would be The Long Riders, which features some of the same characters but ends right about where I Shot Jesse James begins.

The comic tone seemed intentional to me (and the bathtub scene was probably my favorite scene in the movie), and the more I think about it, I think it ties in with the stage show & troubador scenes. It, and the earlier comic scene when the brother Ford reads the newspaper ad about the reward and amnesty, presented as a farce make it more powerful when the viewer sees how icky it is when the audience wants to watch the murder recreations, or the singer turns a guy's murder into a catchy tune.