A no-nonsense approach to the father
A FULLER LIFE Directed by Samantha Fuller. Featuring Samuel Fuller, James Franco, Jennifer Beals, Robert Carradine, Joe Dante, William Friedkin, Mark Hamill. Club, IFI members, 90mins
They don’t make ’em like Sam Fuller anymore. By aged 12, he was a copywriter on New York’s Park Row. By 17, he was crime reporter with the New York Evening Graphic. By his early 20s, he was a screenwriter and pulp novelist.
At 30, he left it all behind to become an infantryman. Having rejected various offers of desk work, he landed on the coastlines of Africa, Sicily, and Normandy and was among the liberating forces at the concen- tration camp at Falkenau in 1945. He received the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart during his service.
His war experiences would inform his later work as a writer and director, but away from the frontlines depicted in The Big Red One, he retained a keen eye for human foibles and injustices: Shock Corridor (1963) examines the sticky relationship between psychiatric labelling and mental illness, The Naked Kiss (1964) dares to suggest that a smalltown prostitute may be the only upstanding member of her community, White Dog’s examination of racism saw the film shelved from 1982 until 2008.
Director Samantha Fuller’s warm salute to her legendary father takes a direct route to its subject. Fuller Sr’s collaborators and admirers line up to read extracts from his memoirs. Although peppered with archival footage and movie clips, mostly Samantha Fuller lets her father do the talking.
One couldn’t say her film was innovative or revelatory exactly, but its no-nonsense approach and generosity would surely have played well with dad.
Bang on: Sam Fuller