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Samuel Fuller

independent filmmaker

Samuel Fuller

Samuel Michael Fuller was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on August 12, 1912. He began his working life at the age of 12, when he became a copy boy for the New York Journal. By the age of 17 he had become the youngest reporter ever to be in charge of the events section of that newspaper. During the Depression years he traveled the country on freight trains working odd jobs and writing short stories. His first book, Burn Baby Burn, was published in 1935. His film career began in 1936, when he collaborated on the script of James Cruze's Gangs of New York, which was released in 1938.

As a rifleman in the U.S. 1st Infantry Division during World War II, Fuller saw action in North Africa, Sicily, Omaha Beach on D-Day, and through Europe to Czechoslovakia. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Purple Heart. He later used many of his experiences as the basis for The Big Red One (1980).

After the war, Fuller directed several minor action productions, for which he also wrote many of the scripts and produced. He made his directorial debut with I Shot Jesse James, in 1949. Although he did do some pictures for major studios (including Pickup on South Street for 20th Century Fox in 1953), he spent most of his career as an independent writer, producer and director. He also appeared in several films as an actor.

Samuel Fuller died in Hollywood on October 30, 1997.

Wives and Children

Martha Downes -- ? - 1959, divorced
Christa Lang -- July 25, 1967 - October 30, 1997 -- 1 child


Hats Off (1937) -- writer
It Happened in Hollywood (1937) -- writer
Gangs of New York (1938) -- writer
Adventure in Sahara (1938) -- writer
Federal Man Hunt (1938) -- writer
Bowery Boy (1940) -- writer
Confirm or Deny (1941) -- writer
Power of the Press (1943) -- writer
Margin for Error (1943) -- uncredited writer
Gangs of the Waterfront (1945) -- writer
Shockproof (1949) -- writer
I Shot Jesse James
(1949) -- writer, director
The Baron of Arizona
(1950) -- writer, director
The Steel Helmet
(1951) -- writer, producer, director
The Tanks are Coming (1951) -- writer
Scandal Sheet (1952) -- writer
Fixed Bayonets!
(1951) -- writer, director
Park Row
(1952) -- writer, producer, director
Pickup on South Street
(1953) -- writer, director
Hell and High Water
(1954) -- writer, director
The Command (1954) -- writer
House of Bamboo
(1955) -- writer, director, uncredited actor
Forty Guns
(1957) -- writer, director
Run of the Arrow
(1957) -- writer, producer, director
China Gate (1957) -- writer, producer, director
Verboten! (1959) -- writer, producer, director
The Crimson Kimono (1959) -- writer, producer, director
Underworld U.S.A. (1961) -- writer, producer, director
Merrill's Marauders
(1962) -- writer, director
Shock Corridor
(1963) -- writer, producer, director
The Naked Kiss
(1964) -- writer, producer, director
Pierrot le Fou (1965) -- uncredited actor
The Cape Town Affair (1967) -- writer
The Meanest Men in the West (1967) -- writer, director [TV]
Targets (1968) -- uncredited writer
Shark! (1969) -- writer, director
The Last Picture Show (1971) -- actor
Dead Pigeon, on Beethoven Street (1972) -- writer, director
The Deadly Trackers (1973) -- writer, uncredited director
The Young Nurses (1973) -- actor
The Klansman (1974) -- writer
Scott Joplin (1977) -- actor
American Friend (1977) -- actor
1941 (1979) -- actor
The Big Red One
(1980) -- writer, director, actor (scenes deleted)
Slapstick (Of Another Kind)
(1982) -- actor
White Dog
(1982) -- writer, director, actor
Hammett (1982) -- actor
Der Stand der Dinge
(1982) -- actor
Les Voleurs de la nuit
(1984) -- writer, director, actor
Le Sang des autres (1984) -- actor
Let's Get Harry (1986) -- writer
Helsinki Napoli--all night long (1987) -- actor
A Return to Salem's Lot (1987) -- actor
Sons (1989) -- actor
Street of No Return (1989) -- writer, director, actor
The Day of Reckoning (1990) -- writer, director [TV]
Tinikling ou 'La madonne et le dragon' (1990) -- writer, director, actor [TV]
Il est interdit de jouer dans la cour (1991) -- actor
Gibellina, Metamorphosis of a Melody (1992) -- actor
La Vie de bohème (1992) -- actor
Golem, l'esprit de l'exil (1992) -- actor
Falstaff on the Moon (1993) -- actor
Golem, le jardin pétrifié (1993) -- actor
Somebody to Love (1994) -- actor
Milim (1996) -- actor
The End of Violence (1997) -- actor


Independent Spirit Awards
1996 -- Special Distinction Award for vast contributions to independent filmmaking
Locarno International Film Festival
1993 -- Leopard of Honor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
1987 -- Career Achievement Award
Writers Guild of America, USA
1952 -- Best Written American Low-Budget -- The Steel Helmet


Burn Baby Burn (1935)
The Dark Page
New York in the 1930s (1997--book of photographs)
The Big Red One
A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking

Other Information

Fuller was the guest of honor at the first annual film festival in Sodankylä, Finland, in 1986. Part of a street in Sodankylä was later renamed Samuel Fullerin Katu (Samuel Fuller Street) in his honor.


Internet Movie DataBase

See Also

World War II

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The Robinson Library >> Motion Pictures

This page was last updated on 09/05/2018.