Eclipse Series 5 - The First Films of Samuel Fuller (The Baron of Arizona / I Shot Jesse James / The Steel Helmet) (Criterion Collection) [Import]
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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.
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THE BARON OF ARIZONA ***1/2 1950. Written and directed by Samuel Fuller. An office clerk imagines an unbelievable swindle, patiently forging proofs that his wife is the legal owner of Arizona. Vincent Price is imperial as a womanizer, a monk, a gypsy and finally as the Baron of Arizona. The most impressive scene of the film is the scene of the lynching which already foreshadows the future masterpieces of Samuel Fuller. Recommended.
THE STEEL HELMET ***** 1951. Written, produced and directed by Samuel Fuller. THE STEEL HELMET was the first American movie about the Korea war which started just six months before its theatrical release. Eight soldiers, trapped in a Buddhist temple, fight the communist North Korean army. Be prepared for eighty-five minutes of non-stop tension. Samuel Fuller reveals here his taste for bizarre scenes which leave you wondering why this director isn't more appreciated. Masterpiece.
All in all, an indispensable box set for every movie lover. Don't be the last one to rediscover the most underrated American film director. Bring Sam Fuller to where he should already be. In your library.
It describes hard times experienced by the soldiers during the Korean War, and though the story sometimes is melodramatic, and the film is a low-budget one (obviously stock footage is used in the climax), "Steel Helmet" always has a ring of truth. The grim reality of war is presented with Fuller's original style, and he never gives us an easy solution to the conflicting relationships between the convincing characters.
To movie fans, however, the most surprising element is the character "Short Round." The idea of putting a young, innocent Korean kid and a veteran sergeant together in a dangerous battlefield, and making their relationship a touching one, is a thing that no one but Sam Fuller can achieve. And there is even an unexpected sense of humor in there (check out the scene in which something unusual is mistaken for shell dropping, and disturbs the soldiers' sleep). So, if you are moved by the films like "Saving Private Ryan" or "Platoon," this is a must for you.
Trivia: the boy's name "Short Round" is used by Steven Spielberg in his "Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom," and director Samuel Fuller makes a cameo appearance in Spielberg's "1941." At least, Fuller is respected by him, this fact tells you.