“It’s been said that if you don’t like the Rolling Stones, then you just don’t like rock and roll. By the same token, I think that if you don’t like the films of Sam Fuller, then you just don’t like cinema. Or at least you don’t understand it.”
– Martin Scorsese
One of the most visually inventive of American filmmakers, Samuel Fuller (1912-1997) was also one of the most visceral of film artists, shaping raw emotions and conflict into unconventional and hard-hitting stories. His formative experiences- as newsboy, crime reporter, pulp novelist and World War II infantryman- provided his films with subject matter, as well as storytelling techniques, that grabbed our attention and never let go.
While he enjoyed his most prolific period during the twilight years of the studio era, this fiercely independent writer-director would become mentor and inspiration for younger filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Curtis Hanson, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino and others.
In 2002 Christa Lang-Fuller, collaborator and widow, published his autobiography, A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking. Recently their daughter Samantha Fuller released a documentary on her father, A Fuller Life. To celebrate Samantha’s film, we are collaborating with the Roxie Theater in San Francisco in bringing both Samantha and Christa to the Bay Area for a Fuller weekend. The film selection includes rarely screened titles; additional guest appearances are possible.
PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET
FRIDAY, SEPT. 23 • 5:00 | SATURDAY, SEPT. 24 • 2:00
Fuller’s classic of film noir stars Richard Widmark as a low-rent pickpocket who inadvertently finds himself in possession of microfilm pilfered by Communist spies. This brilliant thriller also features Jean Peters as the streetwalker innocently carrying the stolen goods and Thelma Ritter in an Oscar-nominated performance as a police informer. With Richard Kiley. (US 1952) 80 min.
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HOUSE OF BAMBOO
FRIDAY, SEPT. 23 • 7:00
In the first postwar American film to be filmed on location in Japan, Robert Stack stars as an army investigator who goes undercover to bust Robert Ryan, who runs his gang of ex-GIs with military precision. Writer-director Sam Fuller’s unique film noir is beautifully filmed in Technicolor and CinemaScope and also features Shirley Yamaguchi, Cameron Mitchell, Sessue Hayakawa and DeForest Kelley. (US 1955) 102 min.
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DEAD PIGEON ON BEETHOVEN STREET
SATURDAY, SEPT. 24 • 4:15
IN PERSON: CHRISTA LANG-FULLER & SAMANTHA FULLER
Invited to film in Germany, Sam Fuller concocted a satirical film noir starring Glenn Corbett as an American detective and Fuller’s wife, German-born Christa Lang, as the femme fatale. Barely released in America, the film’s longer director’s cut was recently discovered and restored, including many humorous touches in this fish-out-of-water mystery. With Anton Diffring, Stéphane Audran. Music: Can. (Germany 1973) 127 min. plus discussion.
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SATURDAY, SEPT. 24 • 7:30
IN PERSON: CHRISTA LANG-FULLER & SAMANTHA FULLER
Kristy McNichol stars as an aspiring actress who finds a white German shepherd in the Hollywood Hills and gradually realizes it had been trained to attack people of color. Paul Winfield co-stars as an African American animal trainer who takes on the task of de-programming. Among American filmmakers, Sam Fuller was consistently in the forefront of tackling racial issues, and this passionately anti-racist film was misunderstood and suppressed. Presented in his director’s cut. With Burl Ives. Writers: Samuel Fuller, Curtis Hanson. Producer: Jon Davison. (US 1982) 90 min. plus discussion.
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RETURN TO BEETHOVEN STREET: SAM FULLER IN GERMANY
SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 • 2:00
This recent documentary by German filmmaker Robert Fischer chronicles the production of Sam Fuller’s eccentric crime film Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street, including interviews with star Christa Lang and others involved with the production, among them composer Irmin Schmidt of the rock group Can. Fellow directors Wim Wenders and Dominik Graf also chime in during this fascinating look back at a moment when Hollywood genres and European art films converged. In English and in German with English subtitles. (Germany 2015) 105 min.
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A FULLER LIFE
SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 • 4:15
IN PERSON: SAMANTHA FULLER
Samantha Fuller’s touching documentary portrait of her father Sam Fuller has several of his admirers and collaborators read and dramatize his memoirs. The admirers include: James Franco, Jennifer Beals, Bill Duke, James Toback, Mark Hamill, Joe Dante, Tim Roth, Wim Wenders, Monte Hellman, Buck Henry, Constance Towers and William Friedkin, among others. Executive Producer: Christa Lang-Fuller. Producer/Director: Samantha Fuller. (US 2013) 80 min. plus discussion.
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SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 • 7:00
INTRODUCED BY SAMANTHA FULLER
This pulp masterpiece from filmmaker Sam Fuller stars Peter Breck as a journalist who sets out to win a Pulitzer Prize by having himself committed to a mental hospital in order to solve a murder that took place there. Fuller’s brazenly lurid premise allows him to explore the line between sanity and madness, as well as journalism, war, racism and violence, in what becomes nothing less than a microcosm of American society in the early 60s. With Constance Towers. 101 min.
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