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Samuel Fuller

Samuel Fuller

Crime reporter, freelance journalist, pulp novelist, screenwriter, World War II infantryman—Samuel Fuller was a jack of all trades before the high-school dropout directed his first film at age thirty-six. But once he was contacted by Poverty Row producer Robert L. Lippert, a fan of his writing, Fuller was turned on to cinema—his true calling. A singularly audacious visionary of the B-movie variety, Fuller would make muscular, minuscule pictures, starting with the one-two-three punch of I Shot Jesse James, The Baron of Arizona, and The Steel Helmet—the last a raw Korean War saga that was one of the few films of the period to address racism in America. Soon after, Fuller was scooped up by Twentieth Century Fox, but he was able to maintain his purposefully crude, elegantly stripped-down style and teeth-bared cynicism for such studio efforts as Fixed Bayonets! and Pickup on South Street. Eventually, Fuller returned to independent filmmaking, and in the sixties (after his artistic cred had been given a shot in the arm by the French New Wavers’ embrace of him as a major stylistic influence), he directed two of his most acclaimed titles, the pulpy and profound Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss, both corrosive satires of American culture. Even in his career’s twilight, Fuller didn’t shy away from controversy: his early eighties social horror film White Dog was shelved by the studio for more than a decade due to its provocative, bloody investigation of American racism.