Read Instead…in Print


“Show the action, for Chrissakes, don’t describe it!
It’s a motion picture you’re making,
not a god-damned radio show.”


Read instead…in print #24

Samuel Fuller’s movies touched on much more diverse subjects, such as race, discrimination, social injustice, psychological thriller, western, with stories drawn from real lives, with characters human, many times deeply disturbed, flawed, ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. He didn’t judge nor favour his characters, that’s not a writer’s job, he observed, recounted, described. He hardly cast stars in his movies, he didn’t want simplistic, make-believe tales and mystifying false heroes and idols, he wanted reality depicted in his stories, gripping, hard-hitting, truthful stories with believable characters without sugar coating.

“I’d like to inspire others to be hopeful and daring,
to follow their dreams, no matter the odds!”


He made his first film, I Shot Jesse James (1949), a western without it being a western, not in the John Wayne-western kind of way anyhow. It is a portrait of guilt and psychological torment, with the real violence happening in the criminal’s mind. Every time you see Bob Ford (John Ireland) walk after he shots his friend in the back and is acquitted, you see a man descending into his own hell, you see the psychological load he is carrying on his shoulders. Park Row (1952), named after the street in Manhattan where all the important newspapers in New York City were located, was a film Fuller produced himself with his own money because no studio would back him up, it was his tribute to his newspaper years, to the lives of those early reporters and editors who were the backbone of New York newspapers and to the birth of free journalism. White Dog (1982) was an uncompromising film that conveys a racial tolerance message through events that unfold in the eyes of a dog that was destroyed by a crippeled, twisted society when he was a puppy, having been trained to attack black people. This may as well be the most original, shocking, truth-grabbing movie on American racism ever made. It was misunderstood and withheld from release in America when it was made.


“In those days, memory was in a person’s mind,
not in his computer’s electronic chip.”


Sam Fuller was an original. Facts were the bedrock of his stories. He was after the truth, nice or ugly, just as in journalism, and gave it to you straight. But he put just as much imagination into his characters and action. His extraordinary autobiography, A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking, offers a great insight into original filmmaking.

Read instead… in print is about a good book about cinema or filmmakers. No discursive, pretentious analyses, no verbose scrutiny. Because the idea is to invite you to read the book, not read about it here. But instead of using social media, I use my journal. Back to basics. Take it as a wish to break free of over-reliance on social media (even if it’s just for posting a photo of a good book) for presenting my work, cultural finds and interests. These are things to be enjoyed as stand-alone pieces in a more substantial and meaningful way than showing them in the black hole of Instagram thronged with an audience with a short attention span. This is also a look through my voluminous collection of books about film that I use as research in my adamant decision to rely less and less on the online and more on more on print materials.


Read instead…in print #14: Cassavetes on Cassavetes

Real emotion and visual power: Interview with film poster designer Matt Needle

Read instead…in print #11: Picture, by Lillian Ross

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