- Samuel Fuller
Samuel Fuller (Mayflower physician)for the Mayflower doctor."
name = Samuel Fuller
imagesize = 250px
caption = Samuel Fuller (1987)
birthname = Samuel Michael Fuller
birthdate = birth date|1912|8|12|mf=y
Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
deathdate = death date and age|1997|10|30|1912|8|12|mf=y
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
spouse = Martha Downes Fuller (?-1959) Christa Lang (1967-1997)
Samuel Michael Fuller (
August 12, 1912– October 30, 1997) was an American film director.
Fuller was born in
Worcester, Massachusettson August 12, 1912. [imdb name|0002087] He was the son of Benjamin Rabinovitch (a Jewish immigrantfrom Russia) and Rebecca Baum (a Jewish immigrant from Poland). At the time of his birth, the family had already changed their surnameto "Fuller". At the age of 12, he began working in journalism. His first newspaperjob was as a copyboy. He became a crime reporterin New York Cityat age 17, working for the " New York Evening Graphic". He broke the story of Jeanne Eagels' death. He wrote pulp novelsand screenplaysfrom the mid-1930s onwards. Fuller also became a screenplay ghost writerbut would never tell interviewers which screenplays that he ghost wrote explaining "that's what a ghost writer is for".fact|date=October 2008
World War II, Fuller joined the U.S. Army infantry. He was assigned to the 16th Infantry Regiment (United States), 1st Infantry Division, and saw heavy fighting. He was involved in landings in Africa, Sicily, and Normandy. He also saw action in Belgiumand Czechoslovakia. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. [ [http://www.litweb.net/biography/398/Samuel_Fuller.html Biography] at Litweb.net] He used his wartime experiences as material in his films, especially in the 1980 film " The Big Red One" (a nickname of the 1st Infantry Division).
Films as writer and/or director
Hats Off" (1936) marked Fuller's first credit as a screenwriter. Fuller wrote many screenplays throughout his career, but he is best rememberedfact|date=October 2008 as a director. Fuller accomplished the move to direction (he was unimpressed with Douglas Sirk's direction of his "Shockproof" screenplayFuller, Samuel. "A Third Face". Alfred A Knopf (2002)] by being approached by Robert Lippertto write three films for his company. Fuller offered to write them if he would be allowed to direct them, with no extra fee for direction. Lippert agreed, his first film was " I Shot Jesse James" (1949) [ [http://www.criterion.com/asp/boxed_set.asp?id=2000500 Eclipse Series 5: The First Films of Samuel Fuller] from The Criterion Collectionwebsite] followed by " Baron of Arizona" with Vincent Price.
His third film "
The Steel Helmet" established him as a major force. One of the first films about the Korean War, Fuller wrote it based on tales from returning Korean veterans and his own World War IIexperiences. The film was attacked by the Communist Partyin the USA for being too "right wing" and by the American Legionfor being "left wing".fact|date=October 2008 Fuller had a major argument with the U.S. Army that provided stock footagefor the film. The army objected to his American characters executing a prisoner of war, Fuller replied that he had seen it done in his own military experience. A compromise was reached when the Lieutenant(Robert Hutton) threatens the Sergeant ( Gene Evans) with a court martial.
Fuller was sought by the
major studios to join them. Fuller asked each of them what they did with the profits from their films.fact|date=October 2008 All of them gave advice on tax shelters, except for Darryl F. Zanuckof 20th Century Foxwho replied "we make better movies", the answer Fuller was looking for. Zanuck signed Fuller for a contract for seven films, the first being another Korean Warfilm " Fixed Bayonets!" in order to head off other studio competition copying " The Steel Helmet". The U.S. Army assigned Medal of Honorrecipient Raymond Harveyas Fuller's technical advisor. The two got on famously.
The proposed seventh film "Tigrero" based on a book by
Sasha Siemelis the subject of 1994 a documentary by Mika Kaurismäki. "Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made" that featured Fuller and Jim Jarmuschvisiting the proposed Amazon locations of the film. Film that Fuller shot on that location at the time featured in his " Shock Corridor".
Fuller's favourite film was "
Park Row"fact|date=October 2008, a story of American journalism. Zanuck had wanted to turn it into a musical that Fuller refused to do. Instead Fuller started his own production company with his profits to make the film on his own. "Park Row" was a labour of love to Fuller as a tribute to the journalists he knew as a newsboy. His flourishes of style on a very low budget lead many criticswho to call the film Fuller's version of " Citizen Kane".
He followed these with "
Pickup on South Street" (1953), which remains his most well-known film. This film was condemned by the FBI as Communist propagandaand condemned by the Communist Party as anti-Communistpropaganda. Other films that Fuller directed in the 1950s include: " House of Bamboo", " Forty Guns", and "China Gate" let led to protests from the French Government and a friendship with Romain Gary. After leaving Fox, Fuller made " Run of the Arrow", Verboten!, and Merrill's Marauders. In 1959 he wrote and directed the ahead-of-its-time L.A. noir " The Crimson Kimono."
Fuller's work throughout the 1950s and early 1960s followed a basic format: lower-budget genre movies that nonetheless explored controversial topics. "
Shock Corridor" (1963) is set in a psychiatric hospital, while " The Naked Kiss" (1964) features a prostituteattempting to change her life by working in a pediatricward.
Between 1967 and 1980, Fuller directed only two films, the
Mexican-produced "Shark" (1969) and " Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street(1972)". Fuller asked the Director's Guild to remove his name from the credits of "Shark". " Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street" featured his wife, Christa Lang. Fuller returned in 1980 with "The Big Red One", which won critical praise but failed at the box office. The film was later restored to full length and re-released. He followed this film with the controversial " White Dog" (1982), which the studio refused to release until 1991.fact|date=October 2008 In 1983 Fuller moved to Franceand would only have two more theatrical releases, " Les Voleurs de la nuit(Thieves After Dark)" (1984) and " Street of No Return" (1989), both were produced outside the United States. He directed his last film, " Madonne et le dragon" in 1990. He wrote his last film, " Girls in Prison", in 1994.
Films as actor
He makes a cameo appearance in
Jean-Luc Godard's " Pierrot le fou" (1965), where he famously intones: "Film is like a battleground... Love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word, emotion!" He plays a film director in Dennis Hopper's ill-fated " The Last Movie" (1971) [ [http://www.geraldpeary.com/interviews/def/fuller.html Cigars and Cinema with Sam Fuller] , an interview from geraldpeary.com] and a cameraman in Wim Wenders' "The State of Things" (1982). Fuller also appeared in Larry Cohen's " A Return to Salem's Lot" (1987). His last work in film was as an actor: in 1997 he appeared in " The End of Violence" .
tyle and theme
Fuller's work is generally included in the primitive style.fact|date=October 2008 It has been noted as being, based in the narrative tabloid style of filmmaking. [ [http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue01/features/fuller1.htm The Narrative Tabloid of Samuel Fuller] by Grant Tracey, from imagesjournal.com] This was the result of his often lower budgets, but also reflected Fuller's pulp-inspired writing. The
dialoguein his films has been criticizedwho by somespecify as heavy-handed or over-the-top.
Fuller often featured marginalized characters in his films.fact|date=October 2008 The
protagonistof "Pickup on South Street" is a pickpocketwho keeps his beer in the East Riverbecause he cannot afford a refrigerator. "Shock Corridor" concerns the patients of a mental hospital. " Underworld U.S.A." (1961) focuses on an orphaned victim of mobsters. The leading ladies of " Pickup on South Street", "China Gate", and " The Naked Kiss" are prostitutes. These characters sometimes find retribution for the injustices against them. " White Dog" and " The Crimson Kimono" (1959) have definite anti-racistelements. " The Steel Helmet", set during the Korean War, contains dialogue about the internment of Japanese-Americansand the segregation of the American military in World War 2, and features a racially mixed cast.
Although Fuller's films were not considered great cinema in their times, they gained critical respect in the late 1960s. Fuller welcomed the new-found esteem, appearing in films of other directors and associating himself with younger filmmakers.
French New Waveclaimed Fuller as a major stylistic influence.fact|date=October 2008 His visual style and rhythmwere seen as distinctly American, and praised for their energetic simplicity. Martin Scorsesepraised Fuller's ability to capture action through cameramovement. Recentlyspecify, Quentin Tarantinoand Jim Jarmuschcredited Fuller as influential upon their works.
In the mid-1980s, Fuller was the first international director guest at the
Midnight Sun Film Festival.fact|date=October 2008 The festival's hometown, Sodankylä, Finland, named a street "Samuel Fullerin katu", Samuel Fuller's street.
I Shot Jesse James" (1949)
The Baron of Arizona" (1950)
The Steel Helmet" (1951)
Fixed Bayonets!" (1951)
Park Row" (1952)
Pickup on South Street" (1953)
* "Hell and High Water" (1954)
House of Bamboo" (1955)
Run of the Arrow" (1957)
* "China Gate" (1957)
Forty Guns" (1957)
* "Verboten!" (1958)
The Crimson Kimono" (1959)
Underworld U.S.A." (1961)
* "Merrill's Marauders" (1962)
Shock Corridor" (1963)
The Naked Kiss" (1964)
* "Shark!" (1969)
* "Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street" (1973)
The Big Red One" (1980)
White Dog" (1982)
* "Les Voleurs de la nuit" (Thieves After Dark) (1984)
* "Street of No Return" (1989)
*Amiel, Olivier. "Samuel Fuller". Paris: Henri Veyrier, 1985.
**A detailed biography of Fuller, describing his
narrativestyle, "mise en scene", production, the critical and commercial reception of his films, and his ambitions in directing and screenwriting. It includes long investigations into the process of making individual films.
*Fuller, Samuel with Christa Lang Fuller and Jerome Henry Rudes. "A Third Face : My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking". New York: A. Knopf, 2002
** Sam Fuller's autobiography
*Gifford, Barry. "Out of the Past: Adventures in Film Noir". Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001.
**This book discusses Fuller’s work (specifically "Pickup on South Street") as a precipitator of the French New Wave.
*Hare, William. "Early Film Noir: Greed, Lust and Murder".
London: McFarland & Company, INC. 2003.
**Responds to the fame of Fuller and "Pickup on South Street".
*Muller, Eddie. "Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir".
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.
**Discusses Fuller’s work in cinema, specifically film noir, in the context of the war drama.
*Porfirio, Robert, et al. "Film Noir: Reader 3". New York: Limelight Editions, 2002.
**Provides, “Interviews with filmmakers of the Classic Noir Period”. Includes an extended interview with Fuller, in which he talks about his work as a noir screenwriter and director, discusses his novels, and speaks about his thoughts on his place within the noir genre.
*Server, Lee. "Sam Fuller. Film Is a Batttleground". Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. 1994.
**The Subtitle describes the contents: 'A Critical Study, with Interviews, a Filmography and a Bibliography'. Includes an extended interview with Fuller himself, and shorter reminiscences of collaborators, such as
Vincent Price, Richard Widmark, Constance Towersand Robert Stack.
*Silver, Alain, et al. "Film Noir". New York: The Overlook Press, 1979.
**A reference guide to the American style; provides detailed information concerning many of Fuller’s more obscure titles, and discusses mise en scene, plot, structure, etc.
*imdb name|name=Samuel Fuller|id=0002087
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20070206220640/http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/02/fuller.html Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database] at the
Internet Wayback Machine
* [http://www.fathom.com/feature/122257/index.html American Film Institute interview] from fathom.com
NAME= Fuller, Samuel
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Fuller, Samuel Michael
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Film director
DATE OF BIRTH=
August 12, 1912
PLACE OF BIRTH=
Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
DATE OF DEATH=
October 30, 1997
PLACE OF DEATH=
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States
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