by J.R. Jones
As Asher Klein notes in this week's Agenda, you have your pick of Sam Fuller movies tonight: I Shot Jesse James (1949) screens at 7 PM at Doc Films and The Steel Helmet (1951) begins at the Portage at 7:30 PM, screening in 16-millimeter courtesy of the Northwest Chicago Film Society. Jesse James is one Fuller movie I haven't seen, but I can't speak highly enough of The Steel Helmet, the first-ever drama about the Korean conflict. Gene Evans is terrific as the cigar-chomping Sgt. Zack, and among the supporting players is the sadly overlooked black actor James Edwards. Writes Dave Kehr, "Sam Fuller's first major accomplishment is a grim piece of agitprop set in the Korean War, where a battle-worn American sergeant (Gene Evans) forms a survival pact with a Korean orphan. Fuller's powerful direction turns a trite story into a vivid study of national and personal identity. Loud and terse, the film still achieves some remarkably subtle effects." A clip from the film follows the jump.