Fuller. “If you don’t like Sam Fuller, you just don’t like cinema.” – Martin Scorsese. How about that? haha. I had a hard time picking between Fuller, Fosse, Carol Reed, Ashby, Rohmer, Yimou Zhang, Pakula, Carpenter, Tournier and a handful of others but ultimately, as of right now, I’m pretty happy with my choice. For the purposes of this list fuller’s weakness is his best film (certainly he can’t match carol reed or bob fosse here). His strengths though are the depth of his oeuvre and the visceral gut-punch his low-budget cinema gave us all for his over 30+ year career. He’s certainly as maverick as anyone on this list.

best film: pickup on south street. It’s bleak, primeval, and stylistic. There are some small flaws but in the weeks after watching it those flaws mostly fade and you’re left with the power of fuller’s images.

most overrated: none for me. He’s only got two films no the TSPDT top 1000 and I think there should be four to five.

most underrated: white dog. I think it’s a must-see and it’s not in the TSPDT top 1000 and I would imagine it’s not even close. This is like the best made-for-tv movie of all-time and I could see someone who stumbles into halfway and who has no idea about who samuel fuller is or seen his work laughing at it but I’ve loved this movie for years and think just about perfect fuller; low-budget, unpolished, and brilliant.

gem I want to spotlight: shock corridor. This is another fuller jewel that is almost so blunt it’s an exploitation movie. I’d definitely recommend checking this out. Fuller is really his own genre and when you watch as many movies as I do you cherish ones as wild yet as spectacularly well-made as this one.

stylistic innovations/traits:  Fuller is visceral and hard hitting. He’s not subtle, not going for subtle, and his films often deal with war, violence, racism and insanity.  Sarris calls him “american primitive” and says “it is time the cinema followed the other arts in honoring its primitives.” Behind the camera Fuller really was a stylistic swiss army knife and had great crane shots, long takes, and montage sequences.


Top 10

  1. pickup on south street
  2. white dog
  3. shock corridor
  4. forty guns
  5. park row
  6. the big red one
  7. the naked kiss
  8. the steel helmet
  9. the baron of arizona
  10. underworld usa


100) Fuller– 3 must-see, 1 HR, 12 archiveable films