Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Steel Helmet

There are two types of war films: the ones more reliant on bloodshed and the ones more reliant on morality. Obviously it's those in the category that tend to stand out more to audiences, what with how the soldiers behave under duress. There's always been a morbid fascination towards living in fear for one's life.

Unsurprisingly there was a large flux of such works in the years after World War II, many of them penned by those who lived to tell their tales. One such name was Samuel Fuller, and it was his third film The Steel Helmet that put him on the cinematic map.

As would do with later films like Pickup on South Street and The Naked Kiss, Fuller shows with The Steel Helmet a good deal of grit. There's no denying there was a shift in storytelling following the end of World War II, and Fuller proved so as the Korean War raged on. He didn't want to make a sappy picture.

Similarly, much like his magnum opus The Big Red One, Fuller avoids all forms of bullshit for The Steel Helmet. (It's a war movie, damn it, not a soap opera.) He -- as well as several of the film's actors -- knew firsthand what war was like; they sure as hell don't want to sugarcoat their experiences.

The Steel Helmet makes for a solid character study as well as a war film. (What better way to show one's true colors than by putting them in a life or death situation?) It also showed Hollywood what to expect from Fuller, someone who actively tried to change the game. (He did.)

My Rating: ****1/2

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