Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sam Fuller Goes To War

Although Merrill’s Marauders (1962, Warners, 98 minutes, $20.00) is not one of maverick filmmaker Sam Fuller’s so-called signature efforts like Pickup on South Street, The Naked Kiss, or Shock Corridor, it is solid example of Fuller’s idiosyncratic filmmaking style, a full expression of one of his overriding themes (the individual vying against group sublimation), and a taut, non-nonsense war pic. Fuller, a WW II vet himself, depicts action and violence most succinctly, and the squad of men spotlighted here, prowling through the jungles of Burma to fight the Japanese, are revealed as survivors, not heroes, and as dogfaces more afraid of dying then concerned with winning. Fuller’s patented tight, compact, in-yer-face, directorial style infuses this the kind of gritty panache not ever glimpsed in the vast majority of Hollywood war product. As a kid, watching both movies countless time on TV, I thought that this and Don Siegel’s 1962 Hell Is for Heroes were both truly gritty, ultra-realistic, non-Hollywoodized war movies, and I may have been more right than wrong.

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