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Blu-ray Review

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Fuller at Fox:
Five Films, 1951-1957


Starring: Richard Basehart, Gene Evans. Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Bella Darvi. Robert Ryan, Robert Stack. Barbara Stanwyck and Barry Sullivan
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £59.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 28 October 2019

Eureka’s Masters of Cinema Series maintains its illustrious tradition of excellence with a 5-disc hardbound boxed set, that fairly overflows with superior extras on top of nearly eight hours of viewing delight from the Zeus of American B cinema, Sam Fuller. Fuller was too good for the ‘B’ snootery label they stamped him with but got that reputation for his lower budgets transcending themselves with continuous piss and vinegar cinema. Like they say, the jockey, not the horse.

European cineastes lauded him while '50s American audiences just loved him for memorable movies, better than most ham-handed recipes Hollywood studios were serving up. The suits knew he was hot after Fixed Bayonets (1951), assailing him with the fatted calf: prestige stars, prime parking spaces, mounds of money and, very important, tax shelters but Darryl L. Zanuck at Twentieth Century Fox went film Zen with the enlightened Hollywood koan: “We make better movies.” Fuller signed at Fox and this 4K Blu-Ray set is testament to those magical years.

Do not take my word for any of this. See what present day masters say about Sam and how he has affected their art in the superb BFI docu produced by Tim Robbins, wherein he and Quentin Tarrantino get permission to search through the Fuller estate archives and compare notes with Martin Scorsese and Jim Jarmusch. (The Typewriter, The Rifle and the Movie Camera [1996] Dir: Martin Simon. Scr: Adam Simon ( Or Samuel Fuller: Director, Author. Writer, War Hero produced by his daughter Samantha Fuller (

Fuller understood noir before Americans learned the word, with his commi-mingling of crime and cold war espionage set in a seedy side of New York City life in Pickup on South Street (1953) and his sunshine noir epic House of Bamboo (1955) wherein ruthless World War II vets stay in post-war Japan because crime is better there. This is the only 2K restoration of the lot but I dare you to tell the difference, so sharp and resilient was the original Cinemascope negative. It has always been one of my favourite Fifties films for its incandescent imagery bi-polarized with its shadow-minded determinism. From the opening train robbery with Mount Fuji in the background we know we’re inside a postcard from the underworld.

The saw-toothed edge between honour and deviance is a constant in every Sam Fuller picture. The narrative carries the tab for this freight as well as the characters do in their own heads.

These two films are analysed in loving detail by Alain Silver and James Ursini in their apotheoses of noir insight Film Noir: Light and Shadow and Film Noir: Prototypes and Origins of the Movement, reviewed on these pages.

And what of Hell and High Water (1954)? No less than a loose nuke off the Asian coast, besetting submarine captain Richard Widmark and his crew who know they’re on a suicide mission. Does the nuke go off? What do you effing think? Do Widmark and his crew make it out alive? Come on, this is Sam Fuller, director of The Big Red One (1980) which is Mark Hamill’s best role ever and I know somebody’s going to rear up about that trilogy he’s in but you’re wrong and I’m right because this is a Sam Fuller picture with Lee Marvin. I have to think George would agree.

And then… there’s Barbara Stanwyck in Forty Guns (1957). Babs is all in black, head to toe, a dominatrix riding lead, with forty tough gun-toting bastards galloping two abreast behind her. The butch/fem stew has never been stirred better in all movies and please don’t bring up Johnny Guitar (1954) or Rancho Notorious (1952) please don’t, just don’t, okay? Thank you, I really appreciate your deference even before you pay it. Stanwyck was a bit quizzical when offered the lead in a Sam Fuller picture but it gave her the opportunity to show off her equestrian skills and became a template for much of the rest of her career. She loved the movie.

With rumours running into overdrive that the new owner of Fox (Mickey, the voracious rodent) and Wal-Mart will not print 4K restorations because their selling price will run above $15 American, home viewers in the future might find items like this Fuller At Fox box set hard, if not impossible to find. For Europeans reading this, be glad where you are. For the American home viewing audience you might consider renewing your passport.

Sam Fuller left America, never to return after his movie White Dog (1982) was bolloxed by Universal and snottily shelved. It has been rescued, remastered and returned as much as possible to the artist’s original vision (it can by purchased from Amazon).

Who performed this Nightingale of cinematic mercy? You have to ask? Eureka Masters of Cinema Series. Home viewers, support this company. They deserve your loyalty.


John Huff

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