This year would have marked Samuel Fuller’s 100th birthday. Often refered to as a “maverick” filmmaker, Fuller earned the reference as one of those standout directors who found his unique vision even in Hays Code-era Hollywood. Before independently-minded filmmakers tested the strict control of sex, drugs, violence and even morality in movies in the late sixties (Straw Dogs, Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, etc.), Fuller was testing the limits within the system. In the early sixties, he directed a couple of noirish films seemingly fueled by sex and violence, the Naked Kiss and Shock Corridor, that proved him an irrepressible visionary.
His best known achievement arrived with the Big Red One in 1980, about the US involvement in World War II. Like John Ford before him, having been on the front lines as a filmographer certainly shaped Fuller. There are not many directors today who treat violence with as much respect as Fuller did. “I hate violence,” he once said. “That has never prevented me from using it in my films.”
It was with great excitement when I received a note from his widow, Christa Fuller, asking if I might spread the word on a project that their daughter, Samantha Fuller, had undertaken. The younger Fuller has taken to her father’s footsteps to independently produce a tribute to her father on what would have been his centennial, entitled A Fuller Life.
The project is something a bit beyond a documentary. She already has footage of James Franco, Bill Duke, James Toback, Kelly Ward, Perry Lang, Robert Carradine, Mark Hamill, Tim Roth, Wim Wenders, Monte Hellman and Buck Henry reading from her father’s autobiography in his office full of the artifacts of his life.
Now comes the really hard part: restoring 16 mm footage— much of it rare— that would augment the piece with plenty of vintage footage of historic importance. “Among the clips are unseen footage filmed with his trusty Bell & Howell 16 mm camera while he served during WWII,” reads part of a statement in the “Concept” section of the Kickstarter campaign for the film’s partial funding. “Some recently discovered 10,000 ft. of this footage is currently housed at the Academy Film Archive, awaiting funding for digitization.” The first two images above are some frames taken from among those many films, as seen through a loupe magnifier.
This campaign would help bring that rare footage of Fuller’s to light. As he often fought an up-hill battle with facilitators of his art, his films were often chopped up beyond his control (The Big Red One recently had an hour of footage restored in posthumous director’s cut form). It left him bitter with the system, and probably stifled his sporadic output over his many years as a filmmaker. It would make for a bit of poetic justice to help fund this project, and donations range from a $1 all the way to $10,000. At this point, the campaign is half-way through the funding portion but the deadline is less than a couple of weeks away. For plenty more information, including videos, on the Kickstarter campaign jump through the image below: