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With: Samuel Fuller, Jim Jarmusch
Written by: Mika Kaurismäki
Directed by: Mika Kaurismäki
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 75
Date: 02/12/1994

Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made (1994)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Fuller House

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This quasi-documentary by Aki Kaurismaki's brother Mika takes legendary "B" movie director Samuel Fuller, teams him with modern-day indie director Jim Jarmusch and plunges them both into a remote Amazon jungle. Forty years earlier, under orders from producer Daryl F. Zanuck, Fuller trudged through these same jungles shooting color, Cinemascope, 16mm footage in preparation for a film called Tigrero. The film was to star John Wayne, Ava Gardner and Tyrone Power, but insurance companies ultimately shut it down. Fuller shows the native Karaja the footage he shot all those years ago, and many of them recognize loved ones or even themselves as youngsters. Afterwards, Jarmusch and Fuller wander around, interviewing the natives and exploring their way of life. Even though this crew is the ultimate in detached cool, they are genuinely affected by the Karaja's way of life, and no unwelcome irony comes through. Kaurismaki avoids a standard documentary approach, and introduces fictional elements, such as adding sound effects to a scene of Fuller describing his story as well as a touching ending. Fantoma's excellent new DVD comes with a new commentary track by Kaurismaki and Jarmusch (Fuller died in 1997), as well as about 20 minutes of outtakes, plus 13 minutes of Fuller's original footage. Jarmusch also provides a selection of his original photographs. The liner notes include a section of Fuller's unused screenplay. Fantoma has also released Fuller's Street of No Return (1989) and Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1972) is coming soon.

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