The Northwest Chicago Film Society enters the final stretch of its winter programming with a screening of Samuel Fuller’s classic Park Row. Having spent time as a crime reporter in New York City, a pulp fiction novelist, and a foot soldier in World War II, Fuller is cinema’s consummate journeyman, a notorious raconteur whose fiery personality revealed itself in each of his films. Decades of critical appraisal have put Fuller in his rightful place among the very best American filmmakers, yet some of his most vital work, including Park Row, remains underseen.
As the NCFS programmers note in their gazette, “Fuller brought up Park Row with 20th Century Fox production head Darryl Zanuck after convincing him to shoot two rounds of ammunition off the walls of Fox’s screening room to prove that bullets really ricocheted off cement walls like in [Fuller’s 1951 war film] Fixed Bayonets! Zanuck loved the script, but proposed the picture be shot in color and star Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward. It could even be a musical. ‘To hell with Zanuck and Fox!’ said Fuller, and funded the whole thing himself.”
I know of very few cinephiles who don’t adore Fuller. His films are compelling, messy, invigorating, and essential. Selecting my five favorite was a simple but no less fulfilling task. Check them out after the jump.