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The Collector's Choice: Samuel Fuller Collection

Due October 27 from Sony in a seven-disc set

 

About Samuel Fuller

Samuel Fuller (August 12, 1912-October 30, 1997) is considered a legend and a maverick of American cinema; his work is cited as an influence on the French New Wave (including director Jean-Luc Godard, in whose film "Pierrot Le Fou" Fuller appeared in a cameo) and such modern day auteurs as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch. The creator of a robust visual style, Fuller used a groundbreaking combination of deep-focus, hand-held and subjective cinematography to dramatically enhance the audience's point of view.

Fuller began as a New York City crime reporter at 17, and his film work reflected his newspaper experience; his pulp fiction writing and screenplays were noted for his tabloid-influenced storytelling. As a filmmaker, he depicted a grim portrait of American society and immorality and his plot themes focused on deception or hypocrisy.

In the early-1940s, Fuller served in the U.S. Army as a corporal in the First Infantry Division and was twice wounded in battle, receiving a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for his bravery. Fuller's wartime experiences were a major turning point in his film career and influenced his writing for the remainder of his life.


About the Films

"It Happened in Hollywood" (1937) was one of Fuller's first screenwriting credits, a credit he shared with Ethel Hill ("The Little Princess") and Harvey Fergusson ("Hot Saturday"). Fay Wray stars alongside Academy Award nominee Richard Dix, who plays a famous Hollywood Western star at a time when audiences' changing preferences for Gangster films might imperil the cowboy's career. One of the most notable features of director Harry Lachman's comedy is a lavish party scene, featuring look-a-like doubles of top stars James Cagney, Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Mae West, and Ginger Rogers.

Fuller provided the original story for "Adventure in Sahara" (1938), with Maxwell Shane stepping in to write the screenplay. C. Henry Gordon commands a detachment of Foreign Legionnaires with such brutality that he is sent at gunpoint by his men into the desert with a few loyal soldiers and scant supplies, to fend for himself or perish. He vows to reach civilization and return for vengeance.

"Power of the Press" (1943) is based on an original story by Fuller, with Robert Hardy Andrews contributing the screenplay for this tale of a villainous big city publisher whose quest for power leads him to pay off gangsters to act as his henchmen and kill anyone who gets in his path. Lee Tracy, Guy Kibbee, Otto Kruger, Victor Jory and Gloria Dickson star in this intense, hard-hitting drama for director Lew Landers.

Fuller shared the screenplay credit on "Shockproof" (1949) with Helen Deutsch for legendary director Douglas Sirk. Cornel Wilde and Patricia Knight, who were married at the time in real life, star in the story of a woman (Knight), who, after serving only five years of her life sentence for murder, is released from prison on parole. Her tough but tender parole officer (Wilde) tries to keep her from associating with criminal types, including her former lover Harry, played by John Baragrey, and ends up bending the rules he's pledged to uphold.

Fuller wrote the novel which formed the basis of "Scandal Sheet" (1952), with Ted Sherdeman and Eugene Ling and James Poe contributing the screenplay for director Phil Karlson. The cast features Broderick Crawford and Donna Reed with John Derek. Crawford is the unscrupulous new editor who boosts the circulation of a respected New York newspaper with tabloid-style reporting. Reed and Derek play the junior reporters on the paper who clash over the new editorial policy, but finally work together to solve a murder.

Fuller sat in the director's chair for the first time at Columbia Pictures for "The Crimson Kimono" (1959), for which he also wrote the screenplay and produced. This taut film noir concerns two L.A. detectives investigating the murder of a stripper. As their search takes them through skid row, Little Tokyo and other atmospheric neighborhoods, the tension between the two cops rises to a boil as they both fall for the same girl. Fullerís cast includes two actors making their film debuts: Glenn Corbett and James Shigeta, along with Victoria Shaw and Anna Lee.

Fuller wrapped up his association with Columbia Pictures with the release of "Underworld U.S.A." (1961). Fuller again wrote, produced and directed, with Cliff Robertson starring in this gritty tale of vengeance in which Robertson feigns loyalty to both the government (a federal crime commission) and organized crime in order to kill the men who murdered his father. This is one of Fuller's most visually striking films, based on a series of Saturday Evening Post articles by Joseph F. Dineen.