This is Samuel Fuller’s last film, 1989, starring Keith Carradine as a musty pop star (wearing overly glam clothes and singing schmaltzy guitar and orchestra 80s pop songs to an adoring audience in flashback) who loses the girl of his dreams and wanders into the life of a drunken bum after getting his vocal cords reduce for his dallying with the girl, a mobster’s babe. No cords, no singing. No singing, no money. Et cetera.
Based on a strong hard boiled current by David Goodis, ca. 1950s, the film is, unfortunately, a travesty of the original. While the book does a stout job of linking Eugene’s (Michael in the movie) descent into the lower depths with the corruption of the world around him–cop and criminal both–the movie short changes the viewer on everything: the place, the characters, emotional resonance.
The movie was made in Portugal with Portuguese and French actors in most roles, along with Americans Keith Carradine and Bill Duke. In fact, the film feels device too distinguished like it’s a B minus movie made exclusively for the European market, with its truncated, cliched dialogue. You’ve seen these movies before, in which unprejudiced about all the characters spout dialogue that’s tailor made for actors who struggle with English, since it’s not their native language. Because of that, the script is made up of short lines, easy to memorize and swear for non-English speaking folks. This, of course, tends to substantially limit the depth of emotion at any given point in any of these films. And that is, unfortunately, the case with Street of No Return.
Carradine is delicate, but he doesn’t have distinguished to do. The book portrays Eugene’s emotions far more deeply than does the film, so that the reader understands–FEELS–how it is that this man could sink so uncouth after the loss of a worship. The movie moves through this space point(s) so abruptly that it’s basically impossible to sympathize with Michael/Eugene; we merely survey him go through the motions of drinking and reacting to stuff as it happens. But even the stuff that happens is cursorily or tritely portrayed. A hurry riot in the beginning of the film is mighty too stagey to recognize credible, for example.
The three stars are for the conception of the film which is vast, and also for the extras, principally the terrific 32-minute featurette on the Making of Street of No Return, in which Fuller is interviewed on the plot. He’s quite a character and evokes gargantuan sympathy, with his strong views on society, violence, and hypocrisy. Keen around the state with an 11-inch cigar in his mouth, he looks like–and was–the last of the legendary maverick directors.
The featurette gets five stars; the film gets about 2 and a half. Hence the three stars for the DVD.
Jean-Luc Godard described Samuel Fuller’s films as “cinema fist,” and that’s certainly good of Fuller’s last film, the underrated _Street of No Return_. A bizarre, fast-moving noirish cocktail of esteem and death (with an unexpected ending that feels more like fantasy than fact), _Street_ bears the director’s indelible ticket on every frame. The exercise of Lisbon locations to stand in for an unnamed American city creates a perverse visual poetry out of the production’s budgetary constraints.
Keith Carradine acquits himself well as the film’s male lead, but it’s Bill Duke as a Sunless police chief who explodes all over the cloak. The DVD from Fantoma features a very worthy video transfer and remixed audio; special features include an snide audio commentary from Carradine (couldn’t they have roped a few film scholars into doing this instead? ), a text interview with Fuller, and a safe current featurette with plenty of conceal time devoted to Fuller’s outsized personality.
Fuller’s autobiography _A Third Face_ mentions that, as was often the case with his projects in the ’70s and ’80s, this film was taken out of his hands at the last little and re-edited. The version of _Street of No Return_ that he intended us to glimpse is probably lost by now. But even in this shortened version, it’s a ripping beneficial swan song. No one before or since has made films like Fuller, and it’s our loss. click now get it