Old Hollywood had its share of great directors, but genuine iconoclasts are in surprisingly short supply. So when one like Samuel Fuller pops up in the archive, we tend to take notice.
From the 50s on, he was a reliable source for brutally effective flicks delivered in the most direct style possible. He became a French new wave favorite a little later, but he’s only now getting his due as one of the great macho filmmakers Hollywood ever produced.
A collection of some of his lesser known works hit shelves yesterday with a gem called Underworld U.S.A. bundled up inside. The movie’s a standard issue mob revenge story—as in, “My name is Tolly Devlin. You killed my father. Prepare to die”—with Cliff “Uncle Ben” Robertson in the icy central role. It’s high-grade pulp, make no mistake, but it’s got the kind of paranoid edge that makes good pulp into great film. And if you’re looking for a lost gem to fill out your DVD collection, it’s hard to find a better one.