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Sam Fuller at Columbia 1937-1961 - Limited Edition Blu Ray [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
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(Jun 25, 2018)
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The daring and provocative films of maverick American filmmaker Samuel Fuller (1912-1997) were some of the most hard-hitting, outspoken, politically progressive and visually audacious of the Hollywood studio era. This seven-film Blu-ray box set brings together Fuller s entire output as a writer and director for Columbia Pictures: IT HAPPENED IN HOLLYWOOD (1937), a witty satire on the movie-making business, co-written by Fuller; ADVENTURE IN SAHARA (1938), a gripping thriller based on a Fuller story; POWER OF THE PRESS (1943), a daring drama about a corrupt newspaper publisher, based on a Fuller story; SHOCKPROOF (1949), a brooding film noir written by Fuller and directed by the great Douglas Sirk; SCANDAL SHEET, a tense drama about a compromised newspaper editor, based on Fuller's acclaimed novel The Dark Page; THE CRIMSON KIMONO (1959), Fuller's frank and unsentimental detective thriller which attacked the prejudice, ignorance and bigotry that Fuller saw all around him; and UNDERWORLD U.S.A. (1961), Fuller's unflinching depiction of the brutal world of organised crime. This collectable four-disc box set also contains an array of new and archival extra features, limited edition booklets with newly commissioned essays, archival material, contemporary reviews, and full film credits, and is strictly limited to 6,000 numbered units.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:
- High Definition remasters of all seven films
- Original mono audio
- Sam Fuller in Conversation with Henry Chapier (1989): archival recording from the French TV series Le divan d'Henry Chapier
- Sam Fuller Storyteller (2009): Christa and Samantha Fuller, Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Tim Robbins and Curtis Hanson on the life and work of Sam Fuller
- Sam Fuller's Search for Truth (2009): celebrated actor and director Tim Robbins discusses Fuller's philosophy of cinema
- The Culture of 'The Crimson Kimono (2009, 10 mins): filmmaker Curtis Hanson considers the impact of The Crimson Kimono
- Martin Scorsese on 'Underworld U.S.A' (2009, 6 mins): the renowned filmmaker discusses one of his favourite Fuller works
- Barry Forshaw on 'Underworld U.S.A.' (2018, tbc mins): an appreciation by the author of American Noir
- Original theatrical trailers
- Limited Edition exclusive booklets containing newly commissioned essays by Pamela Hutchinson and Lindsay Ann Hallam, archival interviews with director Sam Fuller, historic articles, a critical anthology, and full film credits
- World Blu-ray premieres of It Happened in Hollywood, Adventure in Sahara, Power of the Press, Shockproof and Scandal Sheet
- UK Blu-ray premieres of The Crimson Kimono and Underworld U.S.A.
- Limited Edition Box Set of 6,000 numbered copies
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The three earliest films, “It Happened In Hollywood” (1937), “Adventure In Sahara” (1938) and “Power Of The Press” (1943), are minor B’s. The first with a screenplay co-penned by Fuller, is a sentimental tale of a silent movie western actor facing the new age of talkies and the second, based on one of his stories, is a tale of revenge within the Foreign Legion. Then moviegoers were given first taste of his cynical, biting edge as the third is set in the world of newspapers, a world that was Fuller's trade prior to his pre-movie making days.
Two bigger budgeted productions follow. “Shockproof” (1949), co-written by Fuller, and directed by Douglas Sirk, is a lightweight tale of a parole officer (Cornel Wilde) on the run with his charge (Patricia Knight), a drama spoilt by a cop-out ending instigated by the studio. Much tougher is “Scandal Sheet” (1952), based on his novel “The Dark Page”, another excursion into the realm of newsprint. Here Broderick Crawford, heading up a top-notch cast alongside Donna Reed and John Derek, is the sensation seeking editor of a scandal tabloid, sweating it out as his past catches up with him.
Finally, two films that are truly 100% Samuel Fuller, by then established as one of Hollywood’s free-thinking independents who saw the world through anything but rose-coloured glasses. “The Crimson Kimino” (1959) has detectives Glenn Corbett and James Shigeta on the trail of a stripper’s murderer with racial issues becoming part of the storyline while the violent “Underworld USA” (1961) finds Cliff Robertson tracking down his father’s murderers, a scene he witnessed as a kid.
All films have been beautifully remastered, the clear b&w prints giving no indication of the films’ ages, and accompanied by a mass of Special Features that include insights into Fuller’s career with contributions from directors Martin Scorsese, Curtin Hanson and Wim Wenders. To cite just a couple of specific features, there’s a splendid 6 minute short, “All Star Party” (extracted from “It Happened In Hollywood”) spotlighting many stars’ stand-ins, while there’s some 400 minutes of Fuller’s conversations with Tim Robbins which were subsequently edited down for the documentary “The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera”.
As with other Powerhouse sets, the BluRay discs are packaged in clear jewel cases accompanied by booklets and packaged in a strong outer cardboard box. At first sight not the cheapest collection on the market but then work out the individual costing per item. Certainly a limited edition item destined for all Fuller collector’s libraries.
Starting with ‘It Happened in Hollywood’, this was co-written by Sam Fuller just after the silents morphed into the talkies in 1928. This yarn covered the same ground as ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and ‘Sunset Boulevard’, except that it was just 9 years after the event rather than the 20 years of the other two. A silent star fallen on hard times with the advent of the talkies, tries to keep up appearances for the benefit of a young admirer.
‘Adventure in Sahara’ was also co-written by Sam Fuller. A lonely Foreign Legion garrison, is commanded by a sadistic Captain until mutineers seize the fort and eject him with minimal supplies. But he survives and returns with an avenging troop until they are all surrounded by hostile Arabs. In ‘Power of the Press’, written by Sam Fuller, the publisher of an isolationist newspaper is murdered just as he is about to change the papers position and support the US participation in the war. His friend is brought in to get to the bottom of who did it.
In ‘Shockproof’, co-written by Sam Fuller, a parole officer falls in love with a parolee, who had gone to prison to protect a gambler she loved. In ‘Scandal Sheet’, based on a Sam Fuller novel, a scurrilous newspaper man takes over a struggling daily newspaper and breathes new life into it as a scandal rag by faking up publicity stunts. His wife, whom he abandoned in penury years before reappears and threatens blackmail.
‘The Crimson Kimono’ is a film noir directed by Sam Fuller, in which two cops attempt to solve the murder of a local entertainer, but a love triangle develops between themselves and a witness. And ‘Underworld USA’, is a neo-noir movie written, produced and directed by Sam Fuller in which a fourteen-year-old boy tries to get revenge against the gangsters who beat his father to death.
You get seven films here. They range from 60 minute programmers up to full length feature films. As I say, I wouldn’t consider any of these low budget genre movies to be classics in any sense, but they are all interesting as the first half of the life’s work of Sam Fuller. 4 stars.
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