Archive for Sam Fuller

The Funny Face Shop

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on November 12, 2019 by dcairns

Character sketch of Giulietta Masina in NIGHTS OF CABIRIA.

Sam Fuller reports meeting Fellini during the war — he was running “the Funny Face Shop,” drawing caricatures of GIs for cash. “He’s made better pictures since,” recalled Sam (a good line).

Next time somebody makes a Fellini documentary, it ought to include animated sketches. I would like to do this…

The Sunday Intertitle: A Collaborative Medium

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2019 by dcairns

Rabbi Loewe is a collaborative medium, summoning the demon Astaroth in DER GOLEM.

Masters of Cinema is releasing Paul Wegener’s epic about a great man with feet of clay, and I’ve done a video essay with Fiona for it, our first real collaboration of this kind. She read the narration of my DIARY OF A LOST GIRL piece but this time she’s co-writer and we read the VO in turn. Her researches turned up a crucial, forgotten female collaborator on the film.

Incidentally, the film is restored from the long-lost negative, and looks much, MUCH better than the YouTubey frame-grabs I’ve been forced to use here.

The movie is also going to be playing UK cinemas around Halloween, so don’t be surprised if it gets another Sunday Intertitle during Project Fear, our Euro-horror blogathon. The Blu-ray streets on November 18.

This was actually my second collaboration of this kind: Masters of Cinema are also releasing King Hu’s taut and exciting THE FATE OF LEE KHAN, and I co-wrote a video essay with the sublime Anne Billson for that one. Released on October 21st and available for pre-order.

Just a week later, on October 28th, FOX AT FULLER hits the shops, again with a video essay by me. This time I got Samantha Fuller to read her father’s words, which she does magnificently, so I seem to be sharing VO duties a lot recently. I’m reminded of the late Leonard Cohen’s observation on the effect of a female backing singer accompanying his voice: “Some dismal quality is neutralised.”

Jon Robertson produced all three discs, Stephen Horne video edited the essays on THE GOLEM and THE FATE OF LEE KHAN, and Timo Langer edited FULLER AT FOX.

Flashforwards to ‘Nam

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on August 21, 2019 by dcairns
Angkor Watt rear projection, always a good thing.

Been watching lots of Sam Fuller films and reading lots of interviews plus his autobio so now I have his voice in my head.

CHINA GATE is the one that ought, by rights, to be on the forthcoming Masters of Cinema FULLER AT FOX box set but isn’t — but we get 40 GUNS instead, an indie production shot on the Fox lot and released through that company, and that’s a better picture. Still, CHINA GATE is interesting — there aren’t many Viet Nam war movies made before the Viet Nam War officially started.

A crack squad of French Foreign Legionaires are sent on a mission to blow up a Viet Minh ammo dump, which didn’t interest me. Fuller making his hero a fairly despicable racist was sort of interesting, and making his villain more appealing in nearly every way was also a bold choice. Angie Dickinson already shows strong signs of being a Hawksian woman par excellence. But in a movie that seeks to condemn racism, it’s a bit of a handicap to have “half-Chinese” characters played by Dickinson and Lee Van Cleef. The film means well, is on the right side of the race question, but the means of production aren’t.

Speaking of which, Fuller seems to have been even more constrained by his schedule than usual. Ace editors Doane Harrison and Gene Fowler Jr. resort to blowing shots up optically to add a spurious sense of more coverage, which combines with the frequent stock shots to give the film a patched-together feel, with the grain changing from shot to shot.

My favourite bit of Fullerian madness comes when a Hungarian legionnaire wakes up in the jungle and sees a Red Army soldier standing before him, staring blankly ahead. What’s he doing here? Our man jumps up and slugs the guy, at which point he turns into Nat King Cole and hits him back.

OK, so I should explain that Nat King Cole plays one of the French Foreign Legion guys, see? Our Hungarian was having a sort of night terror / waking dream. The transformation is done with SFX: the Red Army hallucination drops out of frame when he’s socked, and when he straightens up again it’s Nat. See also the superb transformation in Bava’s SHOCK aka BEYOND THE DOOR II.

I also liked the reference to Nat having been in the Big Red One, and then an image — a decapitated Buddha — that directly anticipates the shattered crucifix Fuller uses at the opening of his masterpieciest film, THE BIG RED ONE.

Fuller is one filmmaker who can LITERALLY be called an iconoclast.

CHINA GATE stars Professor Clayton Forrester; Feathers; Sunrise Kid; Alvin Karpis; Sabata; Cheezy / Count de Roquefort; Marquis Robert de la Cheyniest; and Hannibal Chew.