|Index||10 reviews in total|
Great film about an American G.I. who quits the army to marry a German girl who saved his life in the last days of the war. She accepts, but does she do it because she really likes him, or because he can support her with easier access to food and such? Meanwhile, her brother and an old friend form an anti-American terrorist group called the Werewolves, their purpose to drive away the occupants (you might remember the same group playing a major part in Lars von Trier's film Europa (Zentropa)). James Best, best known for his role as Roscoe P. Coltrane in the 1980s television show The Dukes of Hazzard, is shockingly excellent as the American. He should have become a big movie star at this age he reminds me very much of Warren Beatty. The other main actors are good, as well. Fuller's direction is quite good, using a lot of long takes again (although they are not nearly as complex as they were in Park Row; the long takes more often than not consist of long scenes with a lot of dialogue). The only problems lie in the script, as seems to be the case with all of the Fuller films that I've seen. It's not too badly flawed, but it ought to have been expanded, fleshing out major characters and parts of the script. Helga, the wife, goes through a major change, but completely off screen. Therefore, the emotional center rests squarely on Best's shoulders. Fuller also should have killed off the sick mother early in the film. I hope that doesn't sound too harsh! She just doesn't really do anything throughout the film except lie in bed. She has so few lines. But Fuller keeps bringing her up as the film goes on. I would have had her death solidify David and Helga's relationship myself. And the film ends too abruptly, and it lacks payoff. These aren't really the biggest flaws in the world (the way I described them makes them sound bigger than they are). 9/10.
Samuel Fuller knows war, and is one of the only directors in American
movie history who could accurately portray the horrific experiences of
it in a form like the motion picture. His pessimism and idealism, if
that sounds a little odd to mix together, work for him as a
storyteller, and at the same time he's always out to tell the truth,
however brutal (or put into melodramatic constructs) it can get.
Verboten, however, deals with the post-war experience, as we only get
in the opening scenes the big boom of WAR- in bold for a point. The
opening shot is like one big exclamation point that seems to continue
on into the rest of the scenes: a dead soldier on the ground, the
camera pans up, we see another soldier shot down in war-torn terrain.
Simple, direct language. Then Fuller punctuates the intensity with
something interesting: the title song played over the opening credits
as both irony and sincerity, and then Beethoven music over a shoot-out
between Americans and the Nazis. Sgt David Brent (James Best) is shot,
the battle goes on, and then it transitions to him being treated for
It might lead one to believe that this will be a somewhat conventional WW2 flick (somewhat in that one usually wouldn't find Beethoven and, later on to an extent, Wagner put into these images), but this isn't the case. Instead, Fuller makes this a 'Coming Home' kind of movie, though not at all in the sense that 'this soldier comes home injured and so on and so on'. Instead of really going home, Brent stays on in Germany, as he's fallen head over heels for the woman, Helga (Susan Cummings, pretty good at pulling off the German accent), and wants to work in a smaller capacity in the military so he can marry her. What he doesn't realize is that a) she wants him more for money so she can get food for herself and brother, however this gets complex emotionally at the point of revelation to the slightly naive but heartfelt Brent, and b) there's an underground Hitler youth sect called the Werewolves, who want to pick right up off where Hitler ended- starting small, despite argument within the group- by attacking the very government that's now embedded in Germany to give them, as Brent describes, a "blood transfusion."
With this, plus footage from the Nuremburg trials, and (as narrated, I think, by Fuller himself) a quick, no-punches-pulled history of the Nazi war crimes piece by piece, we get a multi-faceted look at a society in the dire straits of an immediate post-war environment. While Rossellini handled it his own way with Germany Year Zero, Fuller tackles it with layers: first there's the love story, or what is the tragic downfall of a man who can't see anything past what he thinks should be reasonable, that it's his wife and a child on the way that he can't leave, until the revelation that he's (partly) been swindled. Baker and Cummings, along with Harold Daye as Helga's young, confused brother, perform at with the utmost detail to emotions; these aren't very easy B-movie parts, though they could've been that. Then another layer is the political one, the struggle of a society to come to grips with being conquered, and a mentality which is made sensationalized, to be sure, by Fuller, in respect to making the Nazi's a total no-gray-area thing: they're evil, particularly when they cancel out reason to meet their ends.
And finally there's the layer of style, which is strangely absorbing. This is probably one of Fuller's 'talkiest' films, which isn't a bad thing considering it's one of his best written scripts, as the characters don't talk simply or in too many platitudes (with the exception of a small scene where two characters talk about the Hitler youth as juvenile delinquents, which is actually, according to Fuller's autobiography, probably another layer to consider in the subtext and the 50s period of movies). And Fuller shoots this almost in a real European style, when he's not going for fight scenes or battles, as the editing isn't always very fast, and sometimes a cut won't happen for a full minute, or longer.
There's an odd tension that grows out of this, especially when there's something said by a character that gets another one wild-eyed or suspicious; Fuller could easily go for a big close-up, but there's a more sinister, cold quality to not moving away from two people in a conversation without a simple over-the-shoulder deal. But when it requires it, like the big brawl outside the American military office, or the Nuremburg footage spliced into Franz's memories of the Werewolves, Fuller can be as stunning stylist as ever.
Very hard to find, but extremely worth it if you'r either a fan of the director's or of WW2 movies set in Germany- or even just a history-buff- Verboten! is an intellectual experience and a strong emotional one, with a cast that is better than expected from a B-movie, and an attitude towards the 'other' that is equally damning and thought provoking.
One of Fuller's (a combat veteran himself) early works of average quality, but accurately hits on the many conflicting aspects of life in postwar Germany. The main character starts the movie in Apr'45 as a Sgt with C Co, 157th Inf, 45th Div, which really did end the war in Munich as in the movie. (Same unit in the previous month had fought heavily in Aschaffenburg and then liberated part of the Dachau facility). To the uninformed the movie may seem confusing by flip flopping between showing the good & bad of the german people. But anyone who has been there or at least well read on it would know that most of what is portrayed in the movie are things that really did happen in 45-47 Germany. The only inaccuracy I noticed was minor: while on a boat cruise of the Rhine passing the remains of the Remagen bridge he comments he crossed there. But his unit really crossed well south of there - north of Worms Germany.
"House of Bambou": a man infiltrates into a bunch of former GIs turned
"Run of the arrow":a confederate ,after the fall of the south ,leaves his people and wants to live with the Indians.
"The naked truth" : a prostitute tries to join the "respectable" world and works with disabled children.
"Shock corridor" : a journalist ,dreaming of a big scoop ,gets admitted in a mental hospital to unmask criminal but is slowly losing his mind....
There are more Fuller movies which deal with the "intruder" subject ,the "hero" who wants to get out of his world ,and "Verboten" is one of them.An American sergeant fights in Germany;a young girl saves his life and he falls for her .The war comes to an end ;not only he wants to marry her ,but he also wants to live in Germany where an embittered youth is dreaming of another "Reich" -a burning subject even today-He has to cope with angry starving Germans who want to get rid of the Americans whose help is humiliating.In spite of unbearable pictures (Nuremberg),the movie is not as convincing as the five movies I mention above .The part of the girl is underwritten and it's difficult to understand her motives.Maybe Fuller wanted her to be an ambiguous figure.
Like this? try this....
"The big lift" George Seaton,1950
I enjoyed this for a couple of reasons. The emotional tangle was at times confusing and imperfectly resolved, but the blend of newsreel footage with the film's narrative was often compelling. The other element that I appreciated was the depiction of the Werewolves, the fanatical Nazis who continued the fight after the formal surrender. I don't know of another film that deals with them. They assassinated Burgomaster Oppenhoff of Aachen on Palm Sunday, 1945, for example, and did create problems for the occupation. The film, then, challenges the sanitized version of victory and occupation with some gritty realities. The "human issues" are presented not so much through the characters here, but through the historical reality that was gripping those who had survived Hitler -- both conquered and victors.
There is Only One Sam Fuller and His Detractors might say that was
Certainly Enough. But No One can Argue that Sam Fuller made Boring,
Uninteresting, or Common Movies. He was Anything but Common.
While watching a Fuller Movie one is Struck by the Audaciousness as it Unspools with the Usual Low-Budget and Barely Professional Actors. For His Films are all about the Subject. Be it War, Western, Crime, or any Number of Odd Stories He chose to do, Sam Fuller always gave His Heart and Soul.
In this WWII Movie it is the Very End and Post War Germany that is the Setting and the Nazis have been Reduced to Nothing More than a Street Gang and the Occupiers are Struggling to keep all the Threads of Society from coming Unraveled. The Most Basic Things like Food and Medicine are in Short Supply and there is Never a Shortage of Suffering People.
This is just some of the Layers that Fuller Uses here to Elicit a Template of Surreal Cynicism. The Claustrophobic Sets and the Dense Lighting also Manage a Meilu of a Hell on Earth. Posters and Leaflets are Wallpaper and Signposts and the Love Story is not only Edgy but Verboten. This is the Writer/Director's Vintage Heavy Handedness that is a Delight to Watch and is Another Example why there is Only One Sam Fuller.
***SPOILERS*** One of director's Samuel Fuller's lesser known movies
that watching it now, over forty years after it's release in 1959,
strikes a cord in it's uncanny similarity in what's happening in
Iraq/Afghanistan with the US Military engaged in guerrilla war-fear
with local insurgents.
Basically a love story between a GI and German woman the movie goes a lot deeper into the disenchantment of the German people back in 1945 who felt that their being slowly driven to mass starvation by the occupying US military. Being saved from being shot on the spot by the advancing Waffen SS by a German girl Helga, Susan Coming, GI Sgt. David Brent, James Best, later marries her after the war; even though it's forbidden by the US Military Occupying Gvernment for Americans to fraternized with the local German population.
David getting a job in the food distribution section of the US 45th Infantry Division which incidentally had an Indian Nazi-like swastika as it's combat symbol, until 1940 when it was changed to a Thunder-bird, has no trouble getting his wife and her infirmed mother Frau Schiller, Anna Hope, and younger brother Franz, Harold Daye, all the food and medicine that they need. But the other Germans in the little town of Rothbach are on the brink of revolt due to the corruption and black-market racketeering by Americans and their hand-picked Germans employees handling the desperately needed supplies.
With the defeated and disbanded Nazis seeing a chance to regain power they start to form guerrilla-like units, among the German Hitler youth and Army POW's, called werewolves that create havoc, much like whats happening today in Iraq, among the US forces in the German Bavarian province where Rothbach is located. The head of the local werewolf unit is Helga's childhood friend Bruno, Tom Pittman, who's both a fanatical Nazi as well as working undercover, for the werewolves, for the US Military Government in town.
Bruno recruits young Franz into the werewolves who at first is very eager to fight for his country against the hated occupying US military. Later when his older sister Helga takes Franz to the Hall of Justice in Nuremberg to see the top Nazis standing trial, and films of what their accused of doing, he quickly changes his mind and turns against Bruno. Bruno who seemed to care even less about his fellow Germans then US military is exposed as a ruthless exploiter of his own people by fellow werewolf Helmuth, Dick Kallman. Thats when Helmuth found out that Bruno was using the werewolves to pompously, by blowing up supply trains, keep much needed medical equipment and drugs from the people in Rothbach. Thus making it look like the US was doing it in order to get them to revolt against the Americans.
Having Helmuth, on the orders of Bruno, beaten tried and executed for treason right in front of him has now the very troubled, as well as enlightened, Franz decide to get a hold of the secret papers that Bruno has that are plans to take over Germany through a nation-wide werewolf guerrilla war. With all this going on Bruno also takes the time to break-up Helga, who's now pregnant, and Davids marriage by telling David that Helga doesn't love him and only married David to get him to give her and her mother and brother free food and shelter.
A bit uneven in parts with the movie trying to balance a love story with a post-war thriller. For a time you almost forget that Helga is even in the movie with it totally focusing on the werewolf movement and when Helga later takes young Franz to Nuremberg it took a while to realize just who she was, David's wife, since you had the impression that she was somehow killed off earlier in the film. James Best as Sgt. David Brant was by far the best actor in the movie, with Tom Pittmans Bruno Eckart a close second. Bests confrontation with Helga towards the end of the film over her taking advantage of him, which turned out to be a big lie made up by Bruno, was as effective emotionally charged and on par with Marlon Brando's electrifying performance in "Streetcar Named Desire".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
James Best plays the last soldier left in a German village raided by Allied Forces during World War II. He is wounded and nursed to health by a native (Susan Cummings) whose brother is still loyal to a local Nazi group. The couple falls in love and wants to get married, but it is forbidden by Best's commanding officer. Including some gritty footage of Nazi death camps and a daring rescue by Best of his girlfriend's brother from a burning train, this is one of Samuel Fuller's most underrated films. It was produced after RKO Radio Pictures had closed in 1956, sold to Desi Arnaz and General Tire and Rubber Company. There's an unforgettable opening scene, a shootout to the tune of Bethoven's 5th Symphony.
an old movie. not exactly for time passing from its birth but for the themes who are always fresh, for the sets, for the measure of story who impress again and again. a war film and more that. because important remains the way to translate in image, with grace, delicacy and courage a dark side of reality. the photographs, the wallpapers, the dialogs, the scenes from Nuenberg trial, the story story itself are tools for a clear and objective picture of period. and that fact remain great , more important, in fact, than the artistic virtues. the equilibrium - that is the essential thing who defines Verboten ! and who gives to its poetic moments more force.
Only two directors could get away with Beethoven's Fifth coming in under the Columbia Pictures logo--Jean-Luc Godard and Sam Fuller. This movie, a B-minus take on JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG, may rank as the nuttiest of all movies about the National Socialist Party; Fuller's admixture of fetishizing of and loathing for the Nazis may make you feel cuckoo birds are flying out of your ears.
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