Sam Fuller’s TV Work Pt. 1: The Dick Powell Show & The Virginian

fullerWelcome to the third and final phase in my exhaustive look at the work of Sam Fuller! Here I will explore the television episodes directed by Fuller. In A Third Face, Sam Fuller is not shy about how most of his work in television was done for cold hard cash. By the ’60s he was transitioning back to independent films, so a quick TV job paid the bills and didn’t take up too much time. That’s the gist of what I got from the quick passages about it in the book, anyway.

What’s interesting is that Fuller paints the picture of his debut on television as being around The Virginian, making no mention at all of The Dick Powell Show. I suppose production schedules and the like could have forced the episode of The Virginian to release after 330 Independence S.W., but at this point I don’t think it matters one way or the other. The important thing is that It Tolls for Thee was both written and directed by Fuller, and he was approached specifically to create an episode for the show. In A Third Face Fuller states that this episode was to be the show’s pilot, but some shuffling must have occurred because it ended up as the 9th episode aired. He makes no mention at all of 330 Independence S.W., but he does mention receiving a bunch of TV offers that he turned down. Apparently, he didn’t turn down that one! If he truly did forget the episode, I’m not surprised. When he quickly discusses his episodes of Iron Horse in his book, he flat-out admits that he only remembers one of the six he made. His heart just wasn’t in it.


330independencesw_1The Dick Powell Show: 330 Independence S.W. (1962)
First aired: 03/20/1962

Starring William Bendix, David McLean, Julie Adams, Bert Freed, Alan Reed Jr., Yale Summers, Ed Kemmer, Les Damon, Adrienne Ellis, Norman Alden, Michael Harvey

Directed by Samuel Fuller


330 Independence S.W. was Fuller’s first work on TV, and while its subject matter is somewhat Fuller-esque, you’d be hard-pressed to find the director’s stamp on this work. That’s not surprising, TV in those days was a lot more uniform than it is now, but I did hope for a slight glimmer. Especially since this was probably shot sometime between Underworld USA and Merrill’s Marauders, during the prime period of Fuller’s career.

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Merrill’s Marauders (1962)

MerrillsMarauders_1Starring Jeff Chandler, Ty Hardin, Peter Brown, Andrew Duggan, Will Hutchins, Claude Akins, Luz Valdez, John Hoyt, Charlie Briggs

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: Moderate. I don’t expect much from this one.

threestar


Is Merrill’s Marauders a poorly made film because it’s not wholly engaging and entertaining, or is it the perfect film for the story because it slowly drains viewers of their energy and enthusiasm, perfectly placing us into the shoes and the minds of the infantrymen? The film is a great example of the struggles asked of the men on the front line, and it feels cheap to discredit it because it’s hard to watch. Fuller wasn’t interested in entertainment, he was interested in truth, and in that he succeeded. I just wish I had seen Merrill’s Marauders sooner, before I became so enamored with his later, similar & better film The Big Red One.

Merrill’s Marauders opens with a newsreel playing over the jungle of Burma. The reel’s narrator informs us of the broad struggles in the region during World War II, eventually coming to the fact that a large group of American soldiers were sent to retake Burma in order to stop the Japanese army from reaching India and hooking up with the Germans. Maybe I’m just young and naive, but I had no idea that WWII stretched into these countries, so I found it very interesting. In any case, the story behind Merrill’s Marauders is a true one, but it’s not one near and dear to Fuller’s heart. He was brought onto the project, and accepted it with the hope that he’d be able to make The Big Red One next, a film he’d been trying to get made since the 1950s.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Santo vs. the Vampire Women (1962)

santo_vs_vampire_women_poster_01Santo vs. the Vampire Women [Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro] (1962)

Starring Santo, Lorena Velázquez, Jaime Fernández, Augusto Benedico, María Duval, Javier Loya, Ofelia Montesco

Directed By Alfonso Corona Blake


Santo vs. the Vampire Women holds the distinction of being the Santo film that you may have actually heard of… maybe. This is the one that somehow managed to earn itself theatrical runs outside of Mexico and christened Santo with the much less cooler moniker of Samson here in the states. The film lays fine groundwork for the rest of the series, establishing Santo’s mythos and superhero status rather nicely, but in order to build up anticipation, The Man in the Silver Mask isn’t introduced until halfway through the film! I have to imagine this worked to great effect for Mexican audiences dying to see their hero up on the silver screen, but it probably had the exact opposite effect on foreign audiences unfamiliar with the finer points of lucha libre. They must have asked themselves, Why are there dudes wrestling in the middle of my vampire movie?

The film is shot with such style and is brimming with a creepy atmosphere that harkens back to the glory days when Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff were creeping around the back lots of Universal, defining the horror film as we know it. Lighting and sets are amazing, rivaling the best work of those aforementioned classics. The black and white cinematography is beautiful, casting lots of deep shadows and setting the mood for some truly spooky imagery. To put it plainly, this is a straight-up great B horror film until Santo shows up on the scene and takes it to that next level of  greatness.

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