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Samuel Fuller's Street of No Return (1989)
"Street of No Return" (original title)

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A rock star-turned-bum, his vocal chords severed at the height of his career for the love of a woman, reclaims his forgotten past after viewing a music video and seeks revenge against the mobster who maimed him.


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Title: Samuel Fuller's Street of No Return (1989)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lieutenant Borel
Andréa Ferréol ...
Bernard Fresson ...
Marc de Jonge ...
Rebecca Potok ...
Jacques Martial ...
Sérgio Godinho ...
António Rosário ...
Dominique Hulin ...
Gordon Heath ...
Black Bum
White Bum
Trevor A. Stephens ...
Lambert (as Trevor Stephens)
Filipe Ferrer ...


A rock star-turned-bum, his vocal chords severed at the height of his career for the love of a woman, reclaims his forgotten past after viewing a music video and seeks revenge against the mobster who maimed him.

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Release Date:

9 August 1989 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Samuel Fuller's Street of No Return  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

it might not be vintage Fuller all the way, but it'll do; it's got guts and the vigor of B-movie melodrama
9 May 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Street of No Return is and is not a real return to form for maverick B-movie director Samuel Fuller, chiefly because he never really lost a form in the first place. But in essence, the story he's tackling here, based on a David Goodis novel, calls out to a pulpy melodrama/film-noir from the 50s ala Pickup on South Street. There aren't any sensationalized messages being laid out like in a Shock Corridor or Park Row, yet Fuller, even at the ripe old mid 70s, wasn't about to skimp out in his swan song for his die-hard fans. There's plenty of "realistic" violence (in quotes because, as Fuller says in an interview on the DVD, it's not really real, but fictionalized there's a deeper reality to the dramatizing of it), particularly the opening riot sequence, one of the best scenes, and in the climax of the film, where everything is shrouded mostly by smoke as cops and bad guys duke it out. There's emotion- in the total Fuller sense- as he still to the end embraces melodrama as something that can work when not distilled for the audience, especially through intuitive manipulations of the camera in point of view and the wallops of timing with the editing. There's even a fairly decent, if a little estranged, performance from Keith Carradine, and an excellent bad-ass cop turn from character actor Bill Duke.

But then there's also the side to Fuller, as Eastwood is in the midst of right now, in his style and approach to the script where trying new things goes with going old and having (seemingly) nothing to lose as an artist. The only problem is Fuller skirts the edges on whether or not he's making a serious thriller or more of a satire of one set squarely in the mid 80s. Carradine's character, for example, is an 80s era pop singer named simply Michael (a possible in-joke towards Michael Jackson), who sings and plays songs that are kind of second rate power ballads that only work on a level of cheesy enjoyment; this goes also for his music videos, even though one might sense Fuller working some of his more jokey stabs there, and it's not as abhorrent if one just takes a total sense of disbelief. Actually, that might count for a good deal of the movie, because at the core the story is so set in its one-dimensional ways: the mistreated and helpless woman taken away from Michael (who meet and fall in love in a manner only Fuller could pull off with a wink and a nod); the hard-bitten cop looking at trouble if he doesn't crack the case; the unrepentant criminals- white and black- who conspire to have whatever at their will, either by corporate schilling or by immediate gang warfare. This, plus the musical score by Karl-Heinz Schafer which is maybe the worst aspect to making it more dramatically powerful when needed, hamper what are the better qualities.

I wouldn't trade seeing any Sam Fuller motion picture, warts and all, because there's always something to experience and take-in as the director's ideals at showing something compelling from real-life situations (eg the crack years in the urban areas in the 80s, and the underlying issue of race) are never out of sync with making such two-dimensional characters alive and a style angry at conventional ways. It lacks the full drive of a classic, but there's still a pulse that throbs enough to make it worthwhile. Carradine fans, I might add, may be in for a small surprise seeing such a dialog-free performance as a man stripped of his life, or at least dignity, and then given it back piece by piece.

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