Movie Diary 8/25/2019

Verboten! (Samuel Fuller, 1959). A blend of melodrama with an essay film before people started talking about essay films – also with a Paul Anka love theme. Fuller pulls no punches here. It’s about a U.S. soldier (James Best) who falls for a German woman (Susan Cummings); in the immediate aftermath of WWII, they get caught up in the struggle against the remaining Nazi sympathizers. At various times Fuller uses real war footage, but not because he’s padding out a low-budget production; the more into the movie you go, the more you understand that for Verboten!, cinema itself is crucial evidence of the reality of war, and a bulwark of democracy. The climax has Cummings taking her fascist-leaning brother to the Nuremberg trials, where they (and the audience) witness footage that documents Nazi atrocities. Fuller isn’t making a movie about the late 1940s; you get that this film is meant for now, whenever that is. So many scenes include posters and handheld placards that shout at you – the film unrolls as a series of those. Within a year, Jean-Luc Godard made his first film, and he’s still using some of Fuller’s techniques.