Fuller's Front Line

Plus: Lee Marvin, the Garrel family, and Bowie

"Film is a battleground. Love, hate, violence, action, death . . . in a word, emotion." So said Sam Fuller (in Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou) and so his movies are. For 15 years, from the late '40s through the mid '60s, Fuller was the feistiest, freest, most innovative director in Hollywood, specializing in low-budget westerns, film noirs, and combat flicks. The Museum of the Moving Image's four-weekend retro (May 12 through June 10) is nearly complete and includes such hard-to-see items as Park Row (Fuller's 1953 paean to late-19th-century New York City journalism and a movie that takes the idea of a circulation war literally), White Dog (Fuller's last Hollywood movie and, albeit misunderstood on its 1980 non-release, an unsparingly blunt portrayal of American racial pathology), and the footage that Fuller shot, while an Army corporal, on the liberation of a Nazi death camp in Czechoslovakia.


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In the Bogart tradition of heavy-turned-hero, one of the coldest and craziest of early-'50s heavies (see The Big Heat, which opens Lee Marvin: The Coolest Lethal Weapon) became, by the end of the '60s, a leading man—kinda. With a face like a snub-nosed revolver and a basso growl to match, this silver-haired tough guy was usually cast as an anti-hero. Don Siegel's The Killers and John Boorman's Point Blank established Marvin as the quintessential implacable hit man, at least until Samuel L. Jackson. Marvin appeared mainly in westerns (Seven Men From Now, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) and war movies (Attack, The Big Red One) but he could also do physical comedy (Cat Ballou) and even sing (Paint Your Wagon), or something, at least as well as Clint Eastwood. May 11 through 24, Walter Reade Theater.


Generation Garrel is a family affair: French actor Maurice Garrel; his son, independent filmmaker Philippe; and Philippe's actor son, Louis, get their due in various combinations in this series that opens Thursday with Le Lit de la vierge (1969), in which Philippe directs himself as a modern-day Jesus Christ. His father and son both appear in the recent Regular Lovers; Philippe's Liberté la nuit (1983) stars Maurice playing a version of himself; and in Emergency Kisses (1988), Philippe plays a filmmaker with Maurice as his father. Little Louis is around as well. Two breaks from rampant Garrelism include The DreamersBernardo Bertolucci's evocation of May '68, with Louis—and Arnaud Desplechin's Kings and Queen, with Maurice. May 10 through 20, BAM.


David Bowie Presents 10 Latin American and Spanish Films From the Last 100 Years opens as part of the High Line fest Friday with a live performance presentation of a 1919 Mexican silent, The Grey Automobile; it's interspersed with a variety of classics (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment), largely unknown experiments (Mário Peixoto's Limite, from the early '30s), and two unclassifiable Mexican treats: Alberto Gout's crazed melodrama Aventurera and Luis Buñuel's 1954 version of Robinson Crusoe. May 11 through 17, Quad Cinema.

 
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