BEVERLY HILLS—Recently I read the autobiography of famed filmmaker Samuel Fuller, who shocked audiences in the 1960s and ”˜70s when he brought the world such films as “Shock Corridor,” “Naked Kiss” and “White Dog.” The talented maverick was known for being very stern to his cast but only because he wanted the best performances out of them. Canyon News speaks exclusively to one of his actresses, Constance Towers who is a Beverly Hills resident, about the man behind the mask. “Sam Fuller was a great talent. He was a gifted producer, writer and director. He had the courage to attack unpopular subjects that delivered a powerful message. He was a wonderful, colorful character and a joy to know and have as a friend,” said Towers. Towers was the leading lady in both “Shock Corridor” and “Naked Kiss.”
“A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking” is introduced by Academy award winning director Martin Scorsese, who spent a lot of his early years in the motion picture industry idolizing and creating movie moments of his own by watching and learning from the greats like Fuller, who did their handy-work both on set and on the silver screen being attacked by the media, the public and often powerful studio heads and even Congress.
The American Library Association said of Fuller’s tome, “Ebullient and cantankerous, director Sam Fuller probably had more personality than anyone else in the movie business. It came through clearly in his films, particularly in the outrageously lurid, low-budget likes of ‘Shock Corridor’ and ‘The Naked Kiss.’ Happily, it is also fully displayed in his wildly entertaining autobiography, which with characteristic excitement recalls breaking into Hollywood, describes the shooting of his 29 films, and relates his struggles to continue working on under funded projects in Europe after the studio system died in the late 1960s.”
What I enjoyed most about Fuller’s story is that he makes no excuses for the grotesque violence that became part and parcel of many of his pictures. He believed that a story had to be told truthfully and without being censored. It often got the famed director in trouble with the powers at the various Hollywood studios and with politicians who didn’t think the country or the world was prepared for the real truth. Fuller threw caution to the wind very often and what came out of his style was movie-making at it’s best and truth to people who needed to see it.
Although he pushed the boundaries with writers of scripts and actors on set, he really empathized with the people throughout America in an era when no one wanted to hear the truth and wanted to pretend that the ’50s and ’60s were the good times in America. For African Americans, Native Americans and even other Eastern European immigrants times were tough, people were brutally bigoted and there were few filmmakers more encouraged and concerned with truth being out than entertaining the audience and find a box-office hit.
His films are often considered B-movies, but people who know the director know that he was much more of a realistic and much more talented than he was ever given credit. This book goes a long way to explaining in Fuller’s own words what it meant to him to be loved and hated by so many people.
“A Third Face” is available on Amazon and booksellers around the nation. This book is not only a must read for film historians, but also for people who admire a the people who took the hard knocks so that equality for our nation was more than a slogan, but a possibility for us all.
Alfred A. Knopf New York is the publisher of this great biography.