Tag Archives: samuel fuller

“The Steel Helmet” delivers punches on race and American identity

Samuel Fuller is a forgotten auteur. He seldom makes an appearance on lists of the great American directors, yet he inspired countless careers (Martin Scorsese and Jean-Luc Godard, for starters) and made some of the grittiest, most profound films in American history. Like Walt Whitman before and Robert Altman after, Fuller sought to define a uniquely American form of expression. Film noir had a French name and German origins, Hitchcock and Chaplin came from Britain, Welles was cast out of Hollywood, and Fuller picked up the pieces to try and decipher the countless fragments of the American psyche. This led him to a central preoccupation throughout his career: the paradoxical presence of racism and freedom in the national identity of America. The Steel Helmet, his film set and shot during the Korean War, tries to resolve the problems of having an integrated army in a racist world. Continue reading