Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

December 21, 2015

Samuel Fuller’s adaptation of the David Goodis novel STREET OF NO RETURN (France-Portugal, 1989)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 9:52 pm


made in Portugal in the late 1980’s, released in France in 1989

directed by Samuel Fuller

starring Keith Carradine, Valentina Vargas, and Bill Duke

adapted from the American existentialist crime novel by David Goodis


street book

strange, intense yet otherworldly swan song for Samuel Fuller

Director Samuel Fuller’s films SHOCK CORRIDOR and THE NAKED KISS are among my all-time favorite films, the perfect mixture of pulpy imagery, the pushy attitude of the investigative reporter, and post-noir visual poetry. His attempts to achieve a kind of gutter-level truth through expressionistic exaggeration make his films completely unique. This film takes the classic noir novel STREET OF NO RETURN by Davis Goodis and transposes it into a strange cinematic vision that is intense and brutal, yet otherworldly and cerebral. First of all, the film exists in no particular time–like RUMBLEFISH, it blurs elements from different eras so that it exists in some kind of alternate reality. Also, while the film supposedly deals with American issues, it looks so foreign (it was shot in Lisbon, Portugal, a city that has a unique look, but not a familiar look, as Paris or London or Rome or Berlin would have) that the whole thing seems to play out on an allegorical level. Even the music by Keith Carradine is odd–Carradine (known for his 70s hit “I’m Easy”) is rooted in a kind of 70s folk-pop in the James Taylor vein, but his music is given an 80s Euro dance feel, and he looks like glam-era Kim Fowley (in the earlier times in the story) or trashed-out hippie-punk Kim Fowley (in the later times in the story). And while the film deals head on with racial issues, the Black actors in the smaller roles look nothing like African-Americans, which again takes the film away from any realism–it radiates truth rather than depicting it. Bill Duke is excellent as the harried police inspector, Keith Carradine is impressive as the protagonist (quite different from the book, but not attempting to be like the book, but like the screenplay), and once one gets into the “feel” of the film, it carries the viewer along for a wild ride. This is a memorable last film for the great Samuel Fuller. It has all of his good qualities and visually it’s pure Fuller. The strange look and European feel to the film remind us that the man could not get a film deal in his own country and, like Orson Welles, was forced to put together overseas projects wherever he could. The Fantoma DVD presentation of the film is superb as are the extras (commentary by Carradine, documentary about the making of the film, etc.). The women in the film–Valentina Vargas as the woman Carradine desires, and Andrea Ferreol as the woman who has nurtured him and who loves him but whom he sees as a maternal figure (the line about “you’ve always been like a mother to me” is painful to hear!)– are both incredibly sexy in a raw, animal-like way that we don’t often see in films nowadays. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Samuel Fuller film, you should seek out this DVD. If you want to try something different, buy or rent this rather than going to see some empty Hollywood product at the multi-plex. (originally published in 2005)


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