Despite its relatively low budget, this portrait of Korean War soldiers dealing with moral and racial identity crises remains one of Samuel Fuller’s most gripping, realistic depictions of the blood and guts of war, as well as a reflection of Fuller’s irreducible social conscience.
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Gene Evans's Sergeant Zack--one of the great performances in cinema--exceeding racism by way of spirituality & mortality. Fuller's assessment of space & decor within the Buddhist temple is an awe-inspiring achievement to behold, full of despair & the sickness of living, of the strengths & limitations of human contact. War without end, life as war, the tenacious presence of the statue of Buddha amongst the godless.
Few films on the subject of war are so brazen in their condemnation of the futility of conflict & all of its inherent prejudices, while still managing to pay tribute to the heroism of those that take part. Fuller's film might not compete with the spectacle of more recent efforts, like Saving Private Ryan, but the depth of its ideas & the sensitivity of its intentions are well beyond the level of contemporary example.
An imperfect film on imperfect men, but whose vision of humanity and progress is as close to the truth as I believe. "A hundred years ago, I couldn't even ride a bus. At least now I can sit in the back. Maybe in 50 years sit in the middle. Someday even up front."
Samuel Fuller made two genuinely great war films with this and The Big Red One. The Steel Helmet is the finest movie ever made on the Korean War. Fuller was an incredible all-around movie man, whether it was writing, directing, producing, whatever.
As is customary with Fuller, watching this feels like watching a passion play put on by the inmates of an insane asylum. "Steel Helmet" gave birth to a whole sub-genre of war movies ( "Cross of Iron", Fuller's own "The Big Red One", "Apocalypse Now") yet the irony is that rather than making any deliberate point about the absurdity of war, this film is a representation of Fuller's vision of America.
Una película villana, muy distinta al cuadro beneplaciente que por dicha década manifestaba el cine bélico. Fuller no crea una gran historia, sin embargo se encarga para desenmascarar el lado sombrío, humano, cobarde, demencial, etc, de la guerra. Está este protagonista. Un sangre fría, pero que también no está a salvo del malestar. Hay un espacio para reflexionar sobre el prejuicio racial y la conciencia nacional.
The best parts of the movie are the character scenes, especially the ones between Sgt. Zack and Short Round. SPOILER!: The scene when Sgt. Zack sees Short Round dead is great. END SPOILER and the scene where Zack thinks he hears a shell when it's just the bald guy snoring is great too. It's when it drifts into war potboiler territory that it's not so great.