Hell and High Water (1954)

Starring Richard Widmark, Bella Darvi, Victor Francen, Cameron Mitchell, Gene Evans, David Wayne, Stephen Bekassy, Richard Loo

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: Low. This is Fuller’s least favorite film according to his book.


Hell and High Water begins in classic Sam Fuller style, hitting hard with a stunning image designed to immediately excite the viewer and grab hold of their attention. The particular image that opens this Fuller film is a giant nuclear explosion on a remote island (which is actual footage of a test blast by the military), and we’re quickly told via narration that it’s this explosion that the film is about. Sort of. The explosion is more like the catalyst to the film and its climax, but I guess you could say that the explosion informs the entire film and gives tension to the events presented within. That’s kind of a stretch though. This conflicted feeling I have is representative of how I feel about the entire film.

Going into Hell and High Water I had virtually no idea what the film was about. All I knew was that it was a Sam Fuller film, that it was something of a military film, that it was a bigger budget studio picture made as a favor, and that it was Fuller’s least favorite of his pictures. Like the opening explosion, the knowledge that Fuller didn’t like this one informed my viewing of the film. To my surprise though (and realistically I shouldn’t be surprised), Hell and High Water is pretty damn fun, and exceedingly well produced. It is Fuller’s first film in color, as well as his first CinemaScope film and he wastes no time in utilizing both to great effect.

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The Steel Helmet (1951)

The Steel Helmet (1951)

Starring Gene Evans, William Chun, Robert Hutton, Steve Brodie, James Edwards, Richard Loo, Sid Melton, Richard Monahan, Harold Fong, Neyle Morrow, Lynn Stalmaster

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: Love it, and hoping to get some more out of it the second go-round.


After a long hiatus, I finally return to my Samuel Fuller series. I have seen this film once before, about ten or so years back, and I was simply blown away. It was the second Sam Fuller movie I had seen, but the first that I truly loved. Shock Corridor was the first for those that care, and that one is so out there that I had a hard time wrapping my head around it in any meaningful way the first time around. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t necessarily like it either. The Steel Helmet however, took me by the scruff of my neck and threw me directly into the fire and the passion of Sam Fuller’s best work.

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