Eclipse Series 5: The First Films of Samuel Fuller (The Baron of Arizona / I Shot Jesse James / The Steel Helmet) (The Criterion Collection)
Sergeant Zack (Gene Evans) is the only survivor after his platoon is executed by North Koreans. He pulls himself along painfully, hands tied behind his back with his own bootlaces, until he is discovered by a 10-year-old South Korean boy. He dubs the boy Short Round, and the two eventually hook up with an infantry squad. They find a Buddhist temple, which they take over to use as an observation post. The squad is a group of misfits: a black medic, a World War II conscientious objector, a Japanese American WWII vet, a mute, and a 90-day-wonder Officer Candidate School grad in charge. The Steel Helmet
has a gritty, authentic look that transcends its low budget and occasional staginess; all the GIs have Vaseline smeared on their faces and grimy uniforms. More notable, though, is the lack of propagandizing. "Commies" are mentioned, but anti-Communist rhetoric is not. There's a distinct lack of John Wayne-style heroics in this film, and director Sam Fuller never misses an opportunity to work in his sociopolitical agenda. With a black character who's treated on an equal footing with the white GIs and open references to Jim Crow laws and the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII, it points up why Fuller confounded critics on the Left and Right both. Many of the characters and situations were culled directly from combat vet Fuller's war diaries. Strong, profound stuff for 195l, and a film that will stick in your head for days. Highly recommended for fans of Sam Fuller and war films alike. --Jerry Renshaw
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.