- Actors: Preston Foster, John Ireland, Reed Hadley, Tom Tyler, Tommy Noonan
- Directors: Samuel Fuller
- Format: Box set, Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC, Import
- Language: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 3
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Criterion
- Release Date: Aug. 14 2007
- Run Time: 262 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- ASIN: B000QXDFS0
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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 Steel Helmet (1951) centered upon the social climate of the Korean War. The most fascinating aspect about the making of the film is that it was produced during the early months of the war but reflected on how the last war World War II and how soldiers transitioned into another one. As viewers watch each soldier in the film, there are distinctions that show ambiguously, but one must also consider the period besides the war experience and how the world changed from 1945 to 1951; the Cold War was already in progress, reconstruction of Japan and Allied occupation of the country, and in the United States the Civil Rights movement was emerging and the military became a part of that movement, take for example the US Army. Observing the characters in the film, it was evident the change progressed but not without repercussions within inter-racial and inter-related lines between Black, White, and Asian soldiers.
Director Samuel Fuller was known for tipping the scales in terms of issues that tugged at emotions and by utilizing the individual characters to convey concerns that occurred in society. The other two films also provide social commentary within the lines of geography and region that also affected economic issues and the common man, the use of masculinity. The entire set of films are thought provoking, be it through the historical backdrop of the conflict of the Korean War or the Wild West, there are comparisons that reflect upon the period in which they were made that may have been longing for a simpler time or a complex one or both.
The best thing about this movie is how wonderfully Gene Evans lives Sam Fuller's character, not an invincible Sgt Rock, but a tough, pragmatic soldier. Sam's writing in this movie is top quality pulp, with it's larger than life characters living through a war that piles difficulty on absurdity on tragedy.
As a trivia note, Fuller made this and two other movies (Baron Of Arizona and I Shot Jesse James) for infamous cheapie executive Robert Lippert. Lippert promised no interference if he money came in, and lived up to his promise. In my opinion, The Steel Helmet is the best of the three.
The bad: Oh my goodness does Griffith Park look nothing like Korea. The set for the Buddhist Temple that forms the centerpiece of the movie was obviously constructed by looking up "Buddhism" in an encyclopedia, as it looks nothing like Korean Buddhist temples. Further, "Short Round"'s attempt at an Asian accent in English is almost as bad as his English accent in Korean. The writing is excellent and sympathetic to Koreans, but budget meant authenticity had to be sacrificed.
All in all, this is one of the best war movies of its time and worth seeing by anyone who watches movies frequently.