Samuel Fuller

Samuel Fuller

:"See Samuel Fuller (Mayflower physician) for the Mayflower doctor."

Infobox actor
name = Samuel Fuller

imagesize = 250px
caption = Samuel Fuller (1987)
birthname = Samuel Michael Fuller
birthdate = birth date|1912|8|12|mf=y
location = Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
deathdate = death date and age|1997|10|30|1912|8|12|mf=y
deathplace = Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
spouse = Martha Downes Fuller (?-1959) Christa Lang (1967-1997)

Samuel Michael Fuller (August 12, 1912 – October 30, 1997) was an American film director.

Early life

Fuller was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on August 12, 1912. [imdb name|0002087] He was the son of Benjamin Rabinovitch (a Jewish immigrant from Russia) and Rebecca Baum (a Jewish immigrant from Poland). At the time of his birth, the family had already changed their surname to "Fuller". At the age of 12, he began working in journalism. His first newspaper job was as a copyboy. He became a crime reporter in New York City at age 17, working for the "New York Evening Graphic". He broke the story of Jeanne Eagels' death. He wrote pulp novels and screenplays from the mid-1930s onwards. Fuller also became a screenplay ghost writer but would never tell interviewers which screenplays that he ghost wrote explaining "that's what a ghost writer is for".fact|date=October 2008

During World War II, Fuller joined the U.S. Army infantry. He was assigned to the 16th Infantry Regiment (United States), 1st Infantry Division, and saw heavy fighting. He was involved in landings in Africa, Sicily, and Normandy. He also saw action in Belgium and Czechoslovakia. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. [ [ Biography] at] He used his wartime experiences as material in his films, especially in the 1980 film "The Big Red One" (a nickname of the 1st Infantry Division).

Films as writer and/or director

"Hats Off" (1936) marked Fuller's first credit as a screenwriter. Fuller wrote many screenplays throughout his career, but he is best rememberedfact|date=October 2008 as a director. Fuller accomplished the move to direction (he was unimpressed with Douglas Sirk's direction of his "Shockproof" screenplayFuller, Samuel. "A Third Face". Alfred A Knopf (2002)] by being approached by Robert Lippert to write three films for his company. Fuller offered to write them if he would be allowed to direct them, with no extra fee for direction. Lippert agreed, his first film was "I Shot Jesse James" (1949) [ [ Eclipse Series 5: The First Films of Samuel Fuller] from The Criterion Collection website] followed by "Baron of Arizona" with Vincent Price.

His third film "The Steel Helmet" established him as a major force. One of the first films about the Korean War, Fuller wrote it based on tales from returning Korean veterans and his own World War II experiences. The film was attacked by the Communist Party in the USA for being too "right wing" and by the American Legion for being "left wing".fact|date=October 2008 Fuller had a major argument with the U.S. Army that provided stock footage for the film. The army objected to his American characters executing a prisoner of war, Fuller replied that he had seen it done in his own military experience. A compromise was reached when the Lieutenant (Robert Hutton) threatens the Sergeant (Gene Evans) with a court martial.

Fuller was sought by the major studios to join them. Fuller asked each of them what they did with the profits from their films.fact|date=October 2008 All of them gave advice on tax shelters, except for Darryl F. Zanuck of 20th Century Fox who replied "we make better movies", the answer Fuller was looking for. Zanuck signed Fuller for a contract for seven films, the first being another Korean War film "Fixed Bayonets!" in order to head off other studio competition copying "The Steel Helmet". The U.S. Army assigned Medal of Honor recipient Raymond Harvey as Fuller's technical advisor. The two got on famously.

The proposed seventh film "Tigrero" based on a book by Sasha Siemel is the subject of 1994 a documentary by Mika Kaurismäki. "Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made" that featured Fuller and Jim Jarmusch visiting the proposed Amazon locations of the film. Film that Fuller shot on that location at the time featured in his "Shock Corridor".

Fuller's favourite film was "Park Row"fact|date=October 2008, a story of American journalism. Zanuck had wanted to turn it into a musical that Fuller refused to do. Instead Fuller started his own production company with his profits to make the film on his own. "Park Row" was a labour of love to Fuller as a tribute to the journalists he knew as a newsboy. His flourishes of style on a very low budget lead many criticswho to call the film Fuller's version of "Citizen Kane".

He followed these with "Pickup on South Street" (1953), which remains his most well-known film. This film was condemned by the FBI as Communist propaganda and condemned by the Communist Party as anti-Communist propaganda. Other films that Fuller directed in the 1950s include: "House of Bamboo", "Forty Guns", and "China Gate" let led to protests from the French Government and a friendship with Romain Gary. After leaving Fox, Fuller made "Run of the Arrow", Verboten!, and Merrill's Marauders. In 1959 he wrote and directed the ahead-of-its-time L.A. noir "The Crimson Kimono."

Fuller's work throughout the 1950s and early 1960s followed a basic format: lower-budget genre movies that nonetheless explored controversial topics. "Shock Corridor" (1963) is set in a psychiatric hospital, while "The Naked Kiss" (1964) features a prostitute attempting to change her life by working in a pediatric ward.

Between 1967 and 1980, Fuller directed only two films, the Mexican-produced "Shark" (1969) and "Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1972)". Fuller asked the Director's Guild to remove his name from the credits of "Shark". "Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street" featured his wife, Christa Lang. Fuller returned in 1980 with "The Big Red One", which won critical praise but failed at the box office. The film was later restored to full length and re-released. He followed this film with the controversial "White Dog" (1982), which the studio refused to release until 1991.fact|date=October 2008 In 1983 Fuller moved to France and would only have two more theatrical releases, "Les Voleurs de la nuit (Thieves After Dark)" (1984) and "Street of No Return" (1989), both were produced outside the United States. He directed his last film, "Madonne et le dragon" in 1990. He wrote his last film, "Girls in Prison", in 1994.

Films as actor

He makes a cameo appearance in Jean-Luc Godard's "Pierrot le fou" (1965), where he famously intones: "Film is like a battleground... Love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word, emotion!" He plays a film director in Dennis Hopper's ill-fated "The Last Movie" (1971) [ [ Cigars and Cinema with Sam Fuller] , an interview from] and a cameraman in Wim Wenders' "The State of Things" (1982). Fuller also appeared in Larry Cohen's "A Return to Salem's Lot" (1987). His last work in film was as an actor: in 1997 he appeared in "The End of Violence" .

tyle and theme

Fuller's work is generally included in the primitive style.fact|date=October 2008 It has been noted as being, based in the narrative tabloid style of filmmaking. [ [ The Narrative Tabloid of Samuel Fuller] by Grant Tracey, from] This was the result of his often lower budgets, but also reflected Fuller's pulp-inspired writing. The dialogue in his films has been criticizedwho by somespecify as heavy-handed or over-the-top.

Fuller often featured marginalized characters in his films.fact|date=October 2008 The protagonist of "Pickup on South Street" is a pickpocket who keeps his beer in the East River because he cannot afford a refrigerator. "Shock Corridor" concerns the patients of a mental hospital. "Underworld U.S.A." (1961) focuses on an orphaned victim of mobsters. The leading ladies of "Pickup on South Street", "China Gate", and "The Naked Kiss" are prostitutes. These characters sometimes find retribution for the injustices against them. "White Dog" and "The Crimson Kimono" (1959) have definite anti-racist elements. "The Steel Helmet", set during the Korean War, contains dialogue about the internment of Japanese-Americans and the segregation of the American military in World War 2, and features a racially mixed cast.


Although Fuller's films were not considered great cinema in their times, they gained critical respect in the late 1960s. Fuller welcomed the new-found esteem, appearing in films of other directors and associating himself with younger filmmakers.

The French New Wave claimed Fuller as a major stylistic influence.fact|date=October 2008 His visual style and rhythm were seen as distinctly American, and praised for their energetic simplicity. Martin Scorsese praised Fuller's ability to capture action through camera movement. Recentlyspecify, Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch credited Fuller as influential upon their works.

In the mid-1980s, Fuller was the first international director guest at the Midnight Sun Film Festival.fact|date=October 2008 The festival's hometown, Sodankylä, Finland, named a street "Samuel Fullerin katu", Samuel Fuller's street.


* "I Shot Jesse James" (1949)
* "The Baron of Arizona" (1950)
* "The Steel Helmet" (1951)
* "Fixed Bayonets!" (1951)
* "Park Row" (1952)
* "Pickup on South Street" (1953)
* "Hell and High Water" (1954)
* "House of Bamboo" (1955)
* "Run of the Arrow" (1957)
* "China Gate" (1957)
* "Forty Guns" (1957)
* "Verboten!" (1958)
* "The Crimson Kimono" (1959)
* "Underworld U.S.A." (1961)
* "Merrill's Marauders" (1962)
* "Shock Corridor" (1963)
* "The Naked Kiss" (1964)
* "Shark!" (1969)
* "Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street" (1973)
* "The Big Red One" (1980)
* "White Dog" (1982)
* "Les Voleurs de la nuit" (Thieves After Dark) (1984)
* "Street of No Return" (1989)

Further reading

*Amiel, Olivier. "Samuel Fuller". Paris: Henri Veyrier, 1985.
**A detailed biography of Fuller, describing his narrative style, "mise en scene", production, the critical and commercial reception of his films, and his ambitions in directing and screenwriting. It includes long investigations into the process of making individual films.
*Fuller, Samuel with Christa Lang Fuller and Jerome Henry Rudes. "A Third Face : My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking". New York: A. Knopf, 2002
** Sam Fuller's autobiography
*Gifford, Barry. "Out of the Past: Adventures in Film Noir". Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001.
**This book discusses Fuller’s work (specifically "Pickup on South Street") as a precipitator of the French New Wave.
*Hare, William. "Early Film Noir: Greed, Lust and Murder". London: McFarland & Company, INC. 2003.
**Responds to the fame of Fuller and "Pickup on South Street".
*Muller, Eddie. "Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir". New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.
**Discusses Fuller’s work in cinema, specifically film noir, in the context of the war drama.
*Porfirio, Robert, et al. "Film Noir: Reader 3". New York: Limelight Editions, 2002.
**Provides, “Interviews with filmmakers of the Classic Noir Period”. Includes an extended interview with Fuller, in which he talks about his work as a noir screenwriter and director, discusses his novels, and speaks about his thoughts on his place within the noir genre.
*Server, Lee. "Sam Fuller. Film Is a Batttleground". Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. 1994.
**The Subtitle describes the contents: 'A Critical Study, with Interviews, a Filmography and a Bibliography'. Includes an extended interview with Fuller himself, and shorter reminiscences of collaborators, such as Vincent Price, Richard Widmark, Constance Towers and Robert Stack.
*Silver, Alain, et al. "Film Noir". New York: The Overlook Press, 1979.
**A reference guide to the American style; provides detailed information concerning many of Fuller’s more obscure titles, and discusses mise en scene, plot, structure, etc.


External links

*imdb name|name=Samuel Fuller|id=0002087
* [ Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database] at the Internet Wayback Machine
* [ American Film Institute interview] from

NAME= Fuller, Samuel
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Fuller, Samuel Michael
DATE OF BIRTH= August 12, 1912
PLACE OF BIRTH= Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
DATE OF DEATH= October 30, 1997
PLACE OF DEATH= Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States

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