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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2008
I SHOT JESSE JAMES ****1/2 1949. Written and directed by Samuel Fuller. Robert Ford shoots Jesse James in the back in order to get the reward and start a new life but his girl-friend doesn't want him anymore after Jesse's murder so Robert heads to Colorado to make a fortune. Superb psychological western with a first-class performance of John Ireland as Robert Ford. Note the scene of the theatre when Robert Ford is trying, as an actor playing his own character, to recreate Jesse James's murder before the audience: simply a little jewel. Highly recommended.

THE BARON OF ARIZONA ***1/2 1950. Written and directed by Samuel Fuller. An office clerk imagines an unbelievable swindle, patiently forging proofs that his wife is the legal owner of Arizona. Vincent Price is imperial as a womanizer, a monk, a gypsy and finally as the Baron of Arizona. The most impressive scene of the film is the scene of the lynching which already foreshadows the future masterpieces of Samuel Fuller. Recommended.

THE STEEL HELMET ***** 1951. Written, produced and directed by Samuel Fuller. THE STEEL HELMET was the first American movie about the Korea war which started just six months before its theatrical release. Eight soldiers, trapped in a Buddhist temple, fight the communist North Korean army. Be prepared for eighty-five minutes of non-stop tension. Samuel Fuller reveals here his taste for bizarre scenes which leave you wondering why this director isn't more appreciated. Masterpiece.

All in all, an indispensable box set for every movie lover. Don't be the last one to rediscover the most underrated American film director. Bring Sam Fuller to where he should already be. In your library.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2001
Samuel Fuller's name may sound unfamiliar to many movie fans in America. This is a pity because Fuller, admired in Europe, made a lot of films that can still shock you. "Steel Helmet" is one of them.
It describes hard times experienced by the soldiers during the Korean War, and though the story sometimes is melodramatic, and the film is a low-budget one (obviously stock footage is used in the climax), "Steel Helmet" always has a ring of truth. The grim reality of war is presented with Fuller's original style, and he never gives us an easy solution to the conflicting relationships between the convincing characters.
To movie fans, however, the most surprising element is the character "Short Round." The idea of putting a young, innocent Korean kid and a veteran sergeant together in a dangerous battlefield, and making their relationship a touching one, is a thing that no one but Sam Fuller can achieve. And there is even an unexpected sense of humor in there (check out the scene in which something unusual is mistaken for shell dropping, and disturbs the soldiers' sleep). So, if you are moved by the films like "Saving Private Ryan" or "Platoon," this is a must for you.
Trivia: the boy's name "Short Round" is used by Steven Spielberg in his "Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom," and director Samuel Fuller makes a cameo appearance in Spielberg's "1941." At least, Fuller is respected by him, this fact tells you.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2007
The real deal on this is "The Steel Helmet"! A movie made at the start of the Korean war that was 50 years ahead of it's time. Despite some dated terms and perceptions, it provides a tense look at a tense time. A must have to any serious war movie or any movie collector. As for the other two, well Vincent Price gives a great perfomance in "The Baron of Arizona" even if the movie plays lose and fast with the history behind it. I say get the popcorn, turn out the lights and have a great family night watching one great, one good, and one "typical oater" for a good price....
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2009
This is an invaluable addition to the canon of American film, providing beautiful restorations of the early work of Sam Fuller, one of the great auteurs the 1950s. I would have paid this price just to get "The Steel Helmet," a breakthrough war film that skillfully shows the heroism and horror of combat, with a refreshing moral ambiguity and an almost painful realism. This is no flag-waving recruiting poster, but a no-nonsense depiction of everyday life on the battlefield. Fuller was way ahead of his time. Thank you, Criterion!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2003
My 1st time that I saw this film was as a young wanna be GI. After the Army and as a Teacher I met "Short Round" who happened to become my Principal named Bill Chun. (A really good man and an excellent Principal.) He has regaled me with tales of his short Movie career and they were amusing. He had nothing but good things to say about the cast and the film. I commned it to you for a worms eye view of the "Old Army". By the by Mr. Chun did a hitch in the Regular Army in the late 50's later on before going into teaching.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2002
One of the earliest films to deal with the Korean War, Steel Helmet has good action (on a limited budget, which shows in the
largest battle scene), well-drawn characters, and visits more than
one contemporaneous issue, including racism and manipulation
of that issue by the Soviets and their satellites during the Cold War. I saw the film originally in its year of release.
For me, the best element of the film is Gene Evans' portrayal of Sgt. Zack, a hard boiled, but not cast-iron career soldier.
Viewed as a document both for, and yet a little ahead of its time, Steel Helmet is a great lower budget contribution to
the film literature of the Korean War.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2001
I saw this film when it first screened in 1951. As a young impressionable hero wanna-be, I'll never forget Gene Evans in the opening scene as the camera closes in on him. First you see the top of his helmet as it slowly rises over the lip of the ditch. Then you see his eyes and then the camera shows the bullet hole in his steel helmet. No one in the theater had any idea as to what was going on. The camera then pulls back to reveal a ditch full of dead GI's with their hands tied behind their backs. It was obvious what had happened.

As the film progresses, Evans' character Sgt. Zack, adopts a young Korean boy (who he names Short Round after his executioner's bullet which went though his steel pot but not his head, spun around, and fell out the bottom). Whenever Evans detects that danger is near, he shouts out "Eat rice, Short Round" and the Korean boy hits the dirt.

Zack and Short Round then hook up with members of a lost patrol and they hole up in an apparently deserted Korean pagoda. Little did the troopers know that they were being stalked by a North Korean assassin who's goal was to murder them one by one. The scenes inside the temple have a film noir quality or even surreality and are something not found in your standard war film. It is a memorable and unique film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2001
Ever since I first saw this film in the theater, its images and power have stayed with me over the years. It was a typical low budget Lippert Pictures film. But the black and white picture quality was excellent and Sam Fuller's brilliant direction using scenes of fog and hilly terrain made all the difference.
Just like his other excellent Korean War film, "Fixed Bayonets", Fuller focuses on the individual G.I. at ground level. At a time when it was not fashionable, Fuller addresses racism without pulling any punches. Sergeant "Iron Mike" Zack is a cigar-chomping biggoted tough guy who is none too subtle in showing disdain for certain men in his adopted squad; "chicken-fed" lieutenant, "Consci" (conscientious objector) machine gunner and so forth.
But tough Fuller is also quick to show the real humanity of these different men. When "Short-round" (the young South Korean boy) is killed, Zack comes apart at the seams. When the Red Chinese attack their Buddhist temple in mass near the end of the film, all the men must pull together to survive. Devoid of glory and pomp, Fuller makes this a revellation with a brilliant ending. Too few good films have been made concerning "The Forgotten War", but as far as I'm concerned, none have equalled Samuel Fuller's efforts, not even the excellent "Pork Chop Hill."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
There are few contemporary Korean War movies. Samuel Fuller's THE STEEL HELMET is by far the finest of a miniscule lot.

"Helmet" is a gritty little indie effort that deftly mixes beauty and horror with a persistent air of foreboding. The tragedy of war is well-depicted, from the destruction of a lovely pagoda-like Buddhist temple, to a soldier blown to bits when he touches a boobytrapped body, to the murder of a child-- an act we antiseptically call "collateral damage." Heavy stuff for any era; quite remarkable for 1951.

It's the story of infantry Sgt. Zach (Evans), an escapee from execution by North Koreans who is helped by a South Korean boy he calls "Short Round." The two encounter a remnant of an American patrol that includes a black medic, a Japanese-American sergeant, a private who never talks, a priest-trainee, a young fellow obsessed with regrowing his lost hair, a "conscie" (conscientious objector) lieutenant, and so on. This collection of oddities find their way to a majestic temple in the middle of nowhere that is later attacked by hundreds of enemy troops.

Producer/writer/director Fuller is best remembered by modern audiences for THE BIG RED ONE (VHS) (DVD) from 1980. The noirish 1953 spy thriller PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (VHS) (DVD) however is considered his masterpiece.

As a WWII infantryman, Sam Fuller saw much action in the ETO, where he ultimately earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He later drew on these experiences for the realism that permeates his war films.

In one of his only two screen appearances, Lynn Stalmaster here portrays a second looey. He is best known as casting director on almost 400 movies (many quite famous) from 1950 to the present.

"Steel Helmet" is available on a DVD multi-film pack.

Related item:
Sam Fuller directed an episode of the 1990 anthology thriller series CHILLERS called "The Day of Reckoning." (DVD only)

Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.

(7.5) The Steel Helmet (1951) - Gene Evans/Robert Hutton/Steve Brodie/James Edwards/Richard Loo/Sid Melton/Richard Monahan/Richard Chun/Harold Fong/Neyle Morrow/Lynn Stalmaster
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
During Korea's War, an American patrol is exterminated except Zack, a veteran Lieutenant. But again he will be sent into a suicide mission; to take by storm a Temple placed at the top of a hill. Despite Driscoll and Zack don't agree one each other. There will be an intense enemy besiege and when he becomes again the only survivor, he will put his helmet on Driscoll's grave.

The multiple personal experiences lived by Sam Fuller are shown with all its crude nakedness, without moral codes or conventional hindrances. He was an unpleasant filmmaker for the cinema, due he did not seem to understand the people wanted to forget the horrors and nasty fears of a bloody War, while he insisted over and over around this theme. It's not a mere casualty he filmed such penetrating Noir films in between: Pick up on South Street would seem to confirm it. When he realized about it, he turned his camera toward the inner boundaries of the soul of the society (Shock corridor and The naked kiss), and representing to may sectors what eventually the new German generations to come in the seventies for their country; a little stone in the shoe; an incessant timber in the collective conscious.

Through the years this film has become in significance what The Burmese harp for Japan; an active and untiring voice without self indulgent expressions, allowing the images talk by themselves.

Stunning, absorbing and mesmerizing movie.
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