A FILM THAT WAS NEVER MADE
(director/writer: Mika Kaurismaki; screenwriter: Christa
Fuller- Lang; cinematographer: Jacques Cheuiche;
editor: Sam Fuller;
Jonkey/Nana Vasconcelos/the Karaja Indians;
cast: Jim Jarmusch,
Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mika
Kaurismaki; Fantoma; 1994)
"If you're fans of the colorful Fuller and the hipster Jarmusch, you'll probably like the pic."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Finnish filmmaker Mika
and the Ghost Train") shoots this pleasant
personal documentary of the 1993 trip the genial
cigar-chomping Sam Fuller takes with the cool Jim
Jarmusch into Brazil's Mato Grosso, up the River
Araguaia to the village of Santa Isabel Do Morro,
where he revisits the friendly Karaja Indians. Fuller
was last there 40 years ago and took pictures of the
Amazon natives, in 16-millimeter, as he came there in
the summer of 1954 on a film project for Twentieth
Century Fox's Darryl F. Zanuck. Sam is happy that the
Indians remember him, but unhappy that even this
remote area has experienced some modernization though
its culture has has not changed.
Fuller recalls he was set
to make a jungle film about a Tigrero leading an
escaped prisoner and his wife across the jungle. It
was to be filmed in the Amazon jungle and to star John
Wayne as the hunter guide, Tyrone Power as the
prisoner and Ava Gardner as the woman in love who
frees her hubby from prison and discovers during the
escape he loves himself more than he does anyone else.
But the project was nixed because it cost too much to
insure the stars for the dangerous jungle shoot
(something like 18 million dollars).
It's a playful venture,
with the young filmmaker Jarmusch, donning a Ramones T-shirt, asking the
master elderly filmmaker Fuller many questions about
how he uses the camera to tell a story. The doc also
furnishes footage back then and now of the joyful
ceremonial rituals of the Karajas and Fuller explains how he cleverly used
color footage shot for Tigrero for his loony bin b/w
great classic, Shock Corridor (1963), during a dream
sequence. If you're fans of the colorful Fuller and the hipster
Jarmusch, you'll probably like the pic; others might
not be so taken with such an expedient artifice.
REVIEWED ON 9/14/2011 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ