Detailed, colorful autobiography by one of America’s most creative filmmakers.
The gritty, uncompromising work of director Fuller (1911–97) has over the years won him a devoted international cult following. Martin Scorsese (who contributes an introduction) and Steven Spielberg (who keeps a cherished copy of Fuller’s 1954 submarine action film, Hell and High Water, in the trunk of his car) are among those who have long respected his brand of frank, violent realism. And Fuller’s life story, told here in scrappy prose, is almost more incredible than some of his scripts. Raised in New York City, he worked as a copy boy and crime reporter in the yeasty era of 1920s tabloid journalism, rode the rails during the Depression writing freelance pieces about Hoovervilles, published three novels, then enlisted in the US Army immediately after Pearl Harbor. Unabashed about revealing his heroes (Abe Lincoln, Ben Franklin, and Marlene Dietrich, among others), Fuller has a Forrest Gump–like knack for being in places where history is being made, and his account is filled with vignettes of his encounters with the famous and infamous, including Al Capone, William Randolph Hearst, and Alfred Hitchcock. As a member of the legendary infantry unit memorialized in his 1980 film, The Big Red One, he saw action from North Africa through the invasion of Sicily, landed on Omaha Beach on D-day, and was caught in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, Fuller rose to Hollywood acclaim with movies distinguished by his mastery of the themes of conflict and heroism. Films like I Shot Jesse James (1949), Pickup on South Street (1953), Underworld, U.S.A. (1961), and Shock Corridor (1963) were standouts for their punchy dialogue, innovative plotlines, and powerful direction. He lived some of his last years in France, where his work has been popular ever since it inspired Jean-Luc Goddard and other filmmakers of the French New Wave in the 1950s.
An inspiring tale of a remarkable life.