Monday, June 6, 2011

Person of the Week

Cool To Be Fuller Yourself

      Sam Fuller is one of the beloved mavens of low-budget filmmaking. The energetic proprietor of pulp storytelling is responsible for pioneering a predominantly primitive style. But, like any great movie-making influence, Fuller also dabbled in other forms of film: notably, acting. Ah, you don't believe me. Well, I have definitive video proof. And the proof is in the witnessing; in my case, the revival of my "Person of the Week" crown. Yes, the crown, like MJ in '95, is BACK...and to Sam Fuller and Al Pacino, go the spoils.
      I dare to ask: can one imagine Sam Fuller in the immortal role of Hyman Roth, you know, the guy who connives and manipulates fragile Fredo? Yes and no. For one, Lee Strasberg's portrayal of Roth is remarkable. He manifests a chilling temperament—remember the "He's small potatoes" scene? And he captains, quite perfectly, the aged and corrupt disposition of Mr. Roth. 
      Fuller's audition, on the contrary, demonstrates a menacing charisma. But Hyman Roth is not meant to be chillingly demonstrative. The disloyal boss is a calm villain. Strasberg imbues a calmness and quiet terror that is, in Strasbergian splendor, impeccably terrifying. Fuller's take is engaging and invariably distinct. But it is, in my humbly omniscient Godfather state of mind, not appropriate. 
      Coppola made the right choice. Still, it's hard to deny the feverish chemistry between Fuller and Pacino. Mr. Ooh Ahh seems genuinely awed by Fuller's characterization. And witnessing, in a pure, unspoiled context, one of America's greatest actors performing a screen test with another legend; well, it's where amazing happens. 
      Anyone who follows my blog can accurately attest to my insatiable love for The Godfather, a love that never dims. My unconditional appreciation of Coppola's masterpiece supplements my immense Al Pacino man crush; in terms of acting, people. He is (under contemporary criteria, the more apt word is 'was') one of America's Acting Rushmore's. Although, his performances have waned over the years, much like another favorite Robert De Niro, Pacino's first few decades have showcased sustained glimpses of rare acting genius. So, in the spirit of past greatness, and presently, in the spirit of giddy excitement, I present to you all, a truly marvelous find: eight minutes of, what can most aptly be characterized as, an EPIC Artifact of Cinematic 'What If.'
      It's my Person of the Week. It's The Godfather: Part II. It's Sam Fuller reading for the role of Hyman Roth, a portrayal that earned legendary acting teacher, Lee Strasberg, an Academy Award nomination. Yes, the very same supporting actor nomination that earned De Niro his first Oscar for the iconic role of a young Vito Corleone (before Marlon mustered that unforgettable raspy voice). Above all else, it's Al Pacino during his magnificent heyday.
      Are you still dubious of this Holy Shit piece of film history? Well, to ease your skepticism, let's just acknowledge an obvious observation: it's an eight minute screen test that inspires memories of De Niro, Pacino, Brando, Fuller, Coppola, Strasberg, and of course, the holy grail of cinema, The Godfather. If said golden lineage doesn't remind you of euphoric Christmas memories, then you've probably been hanging out with Debbie Downer; not my Person of the Week. For that, I have no respite. But...maybe I'm just full of myself. I implore you all to watch the video and judge for yourself.
      And a big thanks to Ain't It Cool News for the remarkable find. Apparently, they uncovered the video from TrailersFromHell via BadassDigest. YES, badass indeed :) 
      *One disclaimer: If you don't share my love for The Godfather, then the exacting fate that befell Mr. Roth—you know, Michael's whole, he won't see the New Year—awaits you. Ah, I kid, I kid. I do know some unsavory people, really...but only in the movies.  

Fuller_Pacino_Screentest from Heiko van der Scherm on Vimeo.


  1. Good to see you are still blogging, and sharing your passions with your readers. Thank you for all your insight.

  2. I haven't heard of him before, but as Susan above says it's lovely seeing you so passionate about films and moviemakers even when our tastes don't match :) Passion is very important in life, and it is the creative force!

  3. @ Susan

    Thanks Susan! I'm not going anywhere. I'll be yammering about movies dispassionately as long as my fingers are attached, my mind remains vigorous, my vision feigns luminous, and filmmakers stay laborious.

    And thanks for insinuating that I have "insight." I'm kidding and you're welcome :)

    @ Dezmond

    Ah yes, such true words my friend. The presence of passion, unfiltered or unspoiled, is the pivotal force that dispenses the most powerful and the most honest achievements. Without it, we are subject to inadequacy. But with it, we are champions of limitless creative capacities.

  4. I'm a huge fan of The Godfather as well. I read the novel three times and lost track of how many times I've seen the movie. Al Pacino is AMAZING! One of the best actors in history. Thanks for highlighting Coppola's masterpiece!

  5. Luana, it's absolutely music to my ears when I learn of another devout Godfather fan. And your praise of Pacino is spot-on. He is THAT good, and equally, one of my favorites.

    Coppola is an almost unblemished auteur. I just re-watched Apocalypse Now last week. I'm still stunned by the shear human scale of his vision. His technical prowess and visual energy is just pristine. For such difficult subject matter, Coppola makes Apocalypse Now such a pleasing re-watch.

    And you're welcome.

  6. I don't remember every watching the 2nd Godfather. I know I've seen the first one and I think I've seen the 3rd one.

  7. Lee is still the man, but holy shit this was wicked cool to watch. I grew up with this film emblazoned on my brain and this scene ingrained in my memory. It was very interesting to see what a different choice would have brought us. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing find. You are a true connoisseur of all things Godfather.

  8. Samuel Fuller is a brilliant filmmaker in his own right - if you don't know any of his films YOU MUST CHECK THEM OUT! At the very least watch his last two films: The Big Red One and White Dog. You couldn't get much different in terms of story but both are terrific motion pictures. And if you'd like to see what Fuller-as-actor could do when he actually gets the role and is directed by another cult filmmaker, track down Larry Cohen's A Return to Salem's Lot - with Fuller as an aging Nazi hunter turning to some new targets...quirky, to be sure, but a fun watch for those so inclined. Good job placing that crown this time, Matty! And that Pacino kid is okay in my book too! ;)

  9. @ Sean

    Thanks for stopping by. If you're having doubts about whether you've watched Godfather Part II, I strongly encourage you to visit it. Since you've watched the first, you're going to be blown away by the sequel. I wish I could go back to my first Godfather Part II viewing.

    @ Melissa

    "true connoisseur of all things Godfather." That's a statement I could never get tired of hearing. I'm flattered. Thank you :)

    Glad you enjoyed it. Those are two iconic film characters: Hyman Roth and Michael Corleone. Immediately, I knew that many of my blogging friends would find it to be, at the very least, interesting. But, in your case, I'm jubilant that you not only loved it, but acknowledged its brilliance. Thanks!

  10. @ Craig

    Thanks Chief!

    Actually, Fuller's been on my cinematic radar specifically because of my exposure to The Big Red One. It's a terrific war movie that impresses me, not because of its depiction of WWII, but its examination of soldiers lives. In one word: remarkable. Plus, if I recall, it ushered in the very interesting 80's era.

    Thanks for the recommendations. I'll have to scoop a copy of White Dog. By title alone, it sounds like a classic Fuller film. Needless to say, I'm intrigued. And I'll definitely procure a copy of A Return to Salem's Lot. After witnessing this screen test, I'm quite amazed by Fuller's acting potential.

    Haha, Pacino is more than "okay," but I appreciate the positivity nonetheless.