"Itís been said that if you donít like The Rolling Stones, then you just donít like Rock & Roll. By the same token, I think that if you donít like the films of Sam Fuller, then you just donít like cinema. Or at least you donít understand it."
"Film is a battleground. Love, hate, violence, action, death...In a word, emotion."There's Reality Is Unrealistic and then there's Samuel Fuller. Born in August 12, 1912, in Worcester, Massachusetts to a Russian Jewish family called Rabinowitz(which had anglicized to Fuller), he was named after Dr. Samuel Fuller, who served on The Mayflower. This pedigree and lineage defined Fuller, a Working Class Hero who was an outsider but who was paradoxically, more American than American and represented the same profile to his European fans as satirists like Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken. After his father's death, Fuller's mother arrived in New York where Fuller's autodidactic zest eventually led him to skip school and work as a newspaper boy. This started an association with the Hearst press, and Fuller eventually became a copyboy, and then left the newspaper and became a crime journalist. His first big story was the death of Broadway star, Jeanne Eagles. In the years of The Great Depression, Fuller traveled the land, covering strikes, race riots, brothels, bar dives and the Klan in the South. He even ran into Al Capone. Then he became a pulp fiction writer, then he went to Hollywood as a screenwriter and then World War II broke out and Fuller enlisted as a US First Infantryman serving several tours of duty in North Africa, Sicily and he was part of the first waves on Omaha Beach on D-Day. All this, before directing his first film in 1949 at the age of 36.There's Taught by Experience and there's a life that allows you, in Fuller's words, "to cover the biggest crime story of the century". The very first film Fuller shot was footage of the liberation of the concentration camp Falkenau, an experience which needless to say left a mark on him. When Fuller made his films, he had little time for sentiment, phony gimmicks and a journalist's instinct to get to the heart of things. The result is some of the most visually exciting and unforgettable films of the 50s, in genres like The Western, Film Noir and especially War Movies. He also made some Genre-Busting satirical films like Shock Corridor, The Naked Kiss and White Dog, which explored the underbelly of America. As a director, Fuller's personality was incredibly charismatic and large hearted and he was never without his impressive cigar, instead of calling action, he would fire a revolver on set. He wrote, produced and directed his best films and was prized in France for being an auteur, counting many a Big Name Fan like Jean-Luc Godard, FranÁois Truffaut and others.The Fall of the Studio System led to a period in wildnerness for Fuller, where he worked in Television and as a screenwriter for hire with many projects stuck in Development Hell. Paradoxically, Fuller became a Living Legend, appearing in films by other directors and regarded as an Old Master who young directors took pilgrimages to seek advice and inspiration from. He was the first choice for the role of Hyman Roth in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part II, and an audition with him and Al Pacino exists(the role was passed over by Elia Kazan and was later played by acting teacher Lee Strasberg). Eventually, Fuller made his comeback with the film he waited all his life to make, The Big Red One starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill. Executive Meddling prevented it from becoming a major hit (a Re Cut after his death restores the full vision of Fuller's great film). It's the only major World War II film shot by an actual veteran infantryman and survivor and is uncanny for its accuracy in portraying the psychology of warfare. His second film of the 80s was White Dog, about a dog trained to attack black people; it was shelved and Misblamed although it would be Vindicated by History. Fuller made TV films after that, and retired in France where he had a daughter in his later years and spent his final years working on his autobiography with the distinct title, A Third Face : My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Film-making which was published and edited by his wife Christa Fuller(herself an actress who appeared in Godard's Alphaville).The list of people influenced by Fuller are legendary. Steven Spielberg (who cast him in his 1941 in a brief cameo), Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch in addition to his large following in Europe. There's a street named after him in Finland. Put it simply, they don't make 'em like Sammy Fuller anymore.
— Sam Fuller in Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le Fou (1965)
Tropes from his movies.