Sam Fuller: Crimson Kimonos & Dead Pigeons

August 10, 2017 | By

I shall wield my images and sounds like a FIST!


Sam Fuller’s films either smack you in the face and make you run and hide, or they slowly grow on you, as images, dialogue, and editing convey stories and characters told in a very aggressive and sometimes hyper-dramatic style.

Sony produced a multi-DVD retrospective of Fuller’s films in 2009, and his Fox productions, especially his CinemaScope beauties, are drifting to Blu-ray, but there are distinct periods where career vicissitudes become evident – struggling within the studio system followed by big screen big sound productions, a move to more independent works, and producer meddling that resulted in gaps in output, non-releases, or works deemed mangled, and the two films from two periods profiled here have a couple of things in common: actor Glenn Corbett and the detective thriller.


The kiss happens, but the blonde’s dead by the second scene.


The Crimson Kimono (1959) was Fuller in indie mode, as released by Columbia, and it’s one of the Sony titles Twilight Time’s lifted to Blu-ray with a few extras from the 2009 set. The real draws are the gorgeous HD transfer and both Corbett and James Shigeta making their screen debuts.


‘Bromance? What’s a bromance?’


Kimono also has Victoria Shaw as the love interest who breaks up the boys’ swell bromance. The film’s also nuts, in terms of technique and characters who smack each other or us with a certain rawness, especially the insane burlesque opening that ignites the film’s mystery.

Corbett reteamed with Fuller 13 years later when the director was invited to helm an episode of Germany’s then-new Tatort series, a crime show which still chugs along and is apparently addictive to the point where you don’t call fans when the show airs. Titled Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street, the drama occurs in West Germany’s capital of Bonn, and co-stars Fuller’s wife Christa Lang in an episode that was written as a one-off, and with enough scenes to expand into a feature-length release.

Fuller’s 2 hour cut wasn’t actually seen until decades later, so it’s a unique experience for fans to see both this long unavailable film on DVD and Blu via Olive Films, and in a longer version that’s not quite perfect for reasons I detail in nit-picky detail. Maybe a second viewing is necessary, especially since Pigeon ain’t no Kimono; they’re very different creations from different eras, and Fuller in separate mindsets.

Coming next: three CanCon productions shot in tandem in 1981 – Gas, Dirty Tricks, and The Funny Farm – and showcasing onscreen talent with qualitatively dreadful results.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Tags: , , , , , ,


Comments are closed.