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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:33 pm 
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Eric Skillman and The Steel Helmet.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 4:51 am 
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I watched this for the first time last night, and, as always, Fuller is exceptional and quite entertaining to watch. I had sort of a "dumb" question for the history buffs: In one of the scenes in the court house, there is a sign behind the judge that says "rnoon & evning" (the judge's head was in front of what I assume was "afte"). Was this a misspelling on behalf of the crew, or was evening spelled alternatively or differently back in that time period?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:57 pm 
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Morbii wrote:
I had sort of a "dumb" question for the history buffs: In one of the scenes in the court house, there is a sign behind the judge that says "rnoon & evning" (the judge's head was in front of what I assume was "afte"). Was this a misspelling on behalf of the crew, or was evening spelled alternatively or differently back in that time period?

Probably just a misspelling. The budgets were so, so low on these Lippert films that Fuller probably made the sign himself. I saw Verboten! recently (which, while not a Lippert picture, was a cheapo-quickie for Paramount), and Fuller's unmistakable animation was on every street and picket sign in that entire film!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:08 pm 
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Funny :)

Anyway, these Fuller discs are great (well, haven't watched Steel Helmet yet - probably today). They're a real treat.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:49 pm 
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I just finished Steel Helmet, and thought it was fantastic. I especially loved the camera movements, the way it would circle around and then come to a rest in a close-up, then retreat just as suddenly (I'm thinking of the scene where Sgt. Zack is telling the Lt. exactly how he doesn't measure up to Zack's old Colonel).

The dialog was also great, especially for such an old film, and Gene Evans was terrific as Sgt. Zack. I've been watching these films from netflix, but I'll probably buy the set just to have The Steel Helmet.

Also, is it just me, or did Fuller use some stock footage from Raymond Bernard's Wooden Crosses, specifically the shelling scene??? There were two shots in particular when the American artillery began shelling that looked exactly like shots from the huge shelling scene in Crosses. I'll have to check my Bernard set tomorrow.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:13 pm 
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I believe it's been discussed either in this thread or the Bernard thread. If you haven't seen it yet, Fuller's Fixed Bayonets! should be moved up in your queue based on your the Steel Helmet comments.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:57 am 
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Thanks, domino. I didn't see anything about that on this thread, but found discussion of the stock footage being used in the US over on the Bernard thread (although there was no mention of Steel Helmet specifically). I'm sure that's what they did, though. It's only about two seconds of the movie, but it looks unmistakably Bernard-esque.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:33 am 

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domino harvey wrote:
Fuller's Fixed Bayonets!

One of my favorite Fullers. It's maybe his rawest film. The opening take is sublime.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:33 pm 
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denti alligator wrote:
I love love love this set. All the films are fantastic. The Baron of Arizona! What a film. It moves from bordering on camp-melodrama to gritty western. I Shot Jesse James! Incredible. Forget the Brad Pitt film, go watch this.

I found both of these previously unseen films to be surprisingly excellent. I encourage all to get this set. It's totally worth it. The first two films may not be quite as brilliant as Steel Helmet, but they're pretty great.

I was surprised how good Price was in 'Baron': his performance really made it special, as Fuller's direction was unusually deliberate, even though it was a carefully constructed narrative.
Price's scenes in the monastery, particularly, reminded me of his later great horror roles, for Corman and Michael Reeves, especially.


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 7:26 pm 
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So I went back to Grandpa Sarris's well after seeing my first few Fuller films, and I was surprised at this comment:

Andrew Sarris wrote:
His first film, I Shot Jesse James, was constructed almost entirely in close-ups of an oppressive intensity the cinema had not experienced since Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Unless my memory of Dreyer is shadier than I reckon, that comparison seems a mite overstated. Jesse James begins and ends with close-ups, and is shot mostly at medium distance (thanks to the small interior sets), but I don't remember any "oppressive intensity" other than a few choice scenes where Fuller closes in on John Ireland's face. To compare it to Joan of Arc's actually oppressive use of close-ups seems an exaggeration.

So then I read Dave Kehr's Eclipse review where he offered this clarification:

Dave Kehr wrote:
Now that the extreme close-up has become, more or less, the basic unit of expression in American filmmaking, it is hard to recapture the impact that Mr. Fuller’s gigantic close-ups had in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Such gargantuan images had been reserved almost exclusively for Greta Garbo (and were often ridiculed by contemporary reviewers). But for Mr. Fuller, these shots represented a pressing new urgency, a need to force his audience to identify completely with his protagonists and experience the drama of his films as his heroes did: as a series of difficult choices and conflicting emotions.

"...a pressing new urgency" is a very similar phrase to "oppressive intensity." I've seen lots of films from the 40s and 50s, and I can buy that the close-up was not a common tool in many of them, but I have trouble believing that Jesse James's usage of close-ups was all that different from, to pick a few contemporary films, Hitchcock's in Rope and Under Capricorn (despite the long takes), Huston's in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Reed's in The Third Man, or Dassin's in Night and the City. Was I not paying enough attention? Am I remembering all of these films as having more close-ups than they actually had? Did Fuller do something with the close-up in this flick that I just missed?


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 5:17 am 
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Svevan wrote:
Am I remembering all of these films as having more close-ups than they actually had? Did Fuller do something with the close-up in this flick that I just missed?

Interesting finds. I haven't seen Jesse James since the box came out, but my experience with Shock Corridor on 35mm was surprisingly similar: the intensity and insistency of Fuller's close-ups really smacked me in the face in a cinema in a way they never had on VHS or DVD.

At the time, I analyzed it as Fuller using TV-style framing and coverage in a theatrical context (which explains why it had never seemed so remarkable at home), but I think it was just Fuller being Fuller. At any rate, Shock Corridor was a completely different experience on that scale: a bigger divergence of effect than almost any other film I can think of and a complete surprise. I'd always enjoyed it before, but this time it dragged me out of my chair by the collar and shook me around violently for an hour and a half.


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 10:22 am 
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Have you seen White Dog, z?


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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 6:15 am 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
Have you seen White Dog, z?

Late night on TV back in the late 80s, but not since, and before I knew much about Fuller. So all I have is a residue of WTF weirdness with a lot of subsequently acquired received opinions projected onto it. The Criterion is somewhere in my kevyip.

My experience with late Fuller is mixed. I thought The Big Red One (seen in the cinema) was fantastic and Street of no Return (or whatever the last one was called - seen on DVD) embarrassingly abysmal. There's that "Fuller on the big screen" issue again, but I'm pretty sure 35mm would just make the latter look even more inadequate.


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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 8:14 am 
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Do me a solid and post or PM me your thoughts on WD. I'd be interested to hear if your reaction resembles my own... it's no secret around here that I think the film is a godawful failure.


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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 5:32 pm 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
Do me a solid and post or PM me your thoughts on WD. I'd be interested to hear if your reaction resembles my own... it's no secret around here that I think the film is a godawful failure.

Will do. Might be a few weeks, though, as I'm about to move and most of my kevyip, including this dog, is already packed. Have you seen Street of No Return? It's surely worse (but rent it, don't buy it!)


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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 8:16 pm 
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Finally watched I Shot Jesse James, a very good western, and coming before the darker period of westerns in the fifties, very nice, better than the overly praised Shane or Winchester 73, imo, though not as good as Naked Spur or High Noon. Still for a western of this era, this film is excellent.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:26 pm 
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Location: Austin, TX, USA
Anyone who hasn't bought this set and wants to check out the films -- Turner Classic Movies is showing all three films on Friday, July 3, from 8pm to 1am EDT.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:51 pm 
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Location: New York, NY
Spent Thanksgiving day going over Sam Fuller's Eclipse Box Set. After watching "Park Row" a few weeks back I knew I wanted to watch more Fuller movies. Sam's first movie as writer/director, I Am Jesse James" (1949), shows right off the bat that he's a non-conformist by making an anti-western western with an effectively moody John Ireland as Bob Ford. As he faces the backlash of his cowardly betrayal of Jesse James from both civilians and the woman he loves (Barbara Britton) Ford both loses it but also keeps a degree of self-worth based on his love for Cynthy. The scene of a traveling singer serenading Ford with the ballad of Jesse James is a standout, as is Preston Foster's lead performance as another suitor for Cynthy's attention. Reed Hadley's portrayal of Jesse James is a little too effeminate for my taste but it serves its purpose in Fuller's script of highlighting how deep a personal bond there was between James and Ford (which underscores the depth of the latter's betrayal) as well as how strong Bob's desire to impress and be with Cynthy led him to do what he did.

A neat but uneven directorial debut for Fuller (Victor Kilian's Soapy character seems to have stepped from an entirely different Western being shot on an adjacent Lippert set) which paved the way for Fuller's Baron of Arizona (1950). A more ambitious and focused exploration of a skilled swindler's obsession to claim ownership to the land of Arizona from the U.S. government, Fuller grants Vincent Price a chance to deliver a standout lead performance before Price became typecast. As James Addison Reavis Vincent's suave with the ladies but skilled and patient-enough with forgery to set-up over several years the paperwork, relationships (Ellen Drew's Sofia, Vladimir Sokoloff's Pepito. etc.) and a plausible-enough background to make his legal claim to AZ seem legitimate and give the US government men (particularly Reed Hadley's John Griff) a run for their trial money. I bought the whole premise/execution and had a ball with this one. Fuller shows sympathy for the real life Reavis' creativity and endurance by embellishing his tall tale for the big screen (his scheme wasn't anywhere near as dramatic and grandiose in real life as portrayed in this movie). Combined with Price's charm, good supporting performers (except for the miscast Hadley, a poor on-camera antagonist against Reavis' charm) and Sam's more assured hand at directing his own script makes "Baron of Arizona" a riveting low-budget period piece that pulls off the not-easy feat of making us root and sympathize for the bad guy that's screwing over the little guy. Nothing like a good ol' non-racial lynching scene to get my juices flowing on Thanksgiving. :shock:

Finally, Fuller's The Steel Helmet (1951) firmly establishes the Fuller style of exaggerated but not over-the-top drama and flawed but functioning leading men an audience of regular folks can relate to. It's what drew me to "Park Row" on TCM in the first place. You can't take your eyes off of Gene Evans' Sgt. Zack as he remains the voice of reason (though not necessarily a likable fellow) as the s*** gradually hits the fan in a Korean War military scenario in which a visit to a Buddhist temple leads to troubled interactions and an armed stand that tests the infantry batallion's mettle. The quick couple of shots in which a shellshocked Zack walks around dazed in what looks like a fogged fourth dimension of hell is simply breathtaking in its look and feel of what it's like to lose one's bearings during combat. It's a classic Fuller moment, as is the then-unusual portrayal of interracial and cultural differences in U.S. military personnel along with the wicked sense of irony of setting pretty intense gunfights inside a temple of pacifist worship. Plus for my money the Short Round from "The Steel Helmet" runs all kinds of circles around the Short Round from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." So what if the stock footage and Southern California park locations stick out? When it comes to being in the s*** around no BS tough guys Sam was clearly one of the boys, plus he knew how to film it so the movie viewer could feel it.

Criterion's Eclipse Box Set of Fuller's early movies is a tasty appetizer of the man's movies I have yet to see. After watching these flicks I put on a a Fuller documentary I taped from TCM a few months ago that I was saving until after I had gotten around checking the Box Set. Holy crap, "The Big Red One" seems like the greatest war movie I have yet to see. Lee Marvin in a Sam Fuller-directed WW II movie? That's a testosterone shot I look forward to injecting into my cinematic veins ASAP. O:)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:23 pm 
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Did this go out of print? I've been waiting for Amazon to restock it for a while now.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:54 pm 
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It's still in print on their site and there's been no OOP news. I think Criterion have them licensed directly from the estate so I doubt it would go out without us hearing something first.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:18 pm 
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Thanks, it must just be Amazon.


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