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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Tigrero - A Film That Was Never Made

Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made


Picture: B-†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: B+†††† Film: B-



Samuel Fuller remains as one of my all-time favorite directors and holds that status based on the fact that his films were so raw, powerful, poignant, honest, and he lived his passion of making films that he wanted to make.There are very few filmmakers of this caliber anymore, which is just the thing that Hollywood needs right now.


Often times a persons success can be just as interesting as their failures and cinema is plagued with instances where films were abandoned, destroyed, cut, or never fully realized.Tigrero! was supposed to be an adventure tale starring John Wayne and Ava Gardner, which the locations would be in the remote regions of the Amazon.In 1954, 20th Century Fox sent Fuller to those locations with a camera in hand, but when he returned to Hollywood the film was never made.During his trip he captured the way of life of the Indians that lived there and took part of their ceremonies as he lived with them, and some of that footage is inserted here in our documentary that is mostly director Jim Jarmusch and Sam Fuller as they return to the same location he was in back in 1954.Jarmusch did not direct this documentary though; instead it was directed by Mika Kaurismaki, who also appears on the audio commentary track along with Jarmusch, if you are down for that.


My suspicion is that depending on how you feel about documentaries in general, making-of films, or Jarmusch and Fuller your experience with Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made is up in the air.For me, it was an easy film to like simply because I admire the work of both Jarmusch and of course Fuller, so seeing them converse over little film bits is fascinating, regardless of where they are or what they are talking about in general.Most people might find their meandering a bit tiresome or boring, but the entire program is only 75-minutes, so it will be over quick if you feel that way.


This documentary offers a different insight than per se something like Heart of Darkness, which explored the making of process behind Apocalypse Now, or even the more recent Lost in La Mancha about the unmaking of Terry Gilliam's much awaited film about Don Quixote, the latter reviewed in detail elsewhere on this site.What we find here is that Fuller is astonished at the changes that have happened in the 40 years since his first visit and it becomes evident that he truly had a good experience being there.Fuller is a person who absorbs all that is around him and Jarmusch adds the right ingredient of someone who understands the filmmakers mind enough to prod him in the right direction to further narrate our story.


Fuller is one of few directors who managed to work in CinemaScope on quite a few occasions including The Command (1954), Hell and High Water (1954), House of Bamboo (1955), Forty Guns (1957), and China Gate (1957), plus Merrillís Marauders in 1962, which featured both CinemaScope and Technirama formats.He also forged some of the best war films as well such as Steel Helmet (1951) or Fixed Bayonets (1951), and worked into some pulp filmmaking in the 60ís and helmed two extraordinary films like Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss also in that era.A few years ago a book entitled A Third Face was also released about the life of Samuel Fuller and is a must-read!If you watch this documentary you will certainly want to read the book and if you have read the book you will want to see this documentary as well.What a life this man had!


The DVD issued for Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made is released from Fantoma, who despite being a smaller company has done some really exquisite work with this one indeed.First we have a 1.78 X 1 anamorphically enhanced transfer that looks really good, especially considering we are inserting various footage from Fullerís 16mm CinemaScope from 1954, which does not appear to be treated.More of that footage is also included in the supplements.The audio is a basic Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, which works just fine for its intended purposes here.The film was issued theatrically in Dolby A-type analog.Along with those extras already mentioned there is a commentary track from Fuller and Jarmusch and 20-minutes of outtakes, which most of them are very poorly lit and hard to figure out what the context is, but at least they are added for those that care.There is a quick gallery of some pictures Jarmusch took as well as excerpts from the screenplay for the intended Tigrero! film.


Image Entertainment issued this DVD briefly, but Fantoma gets my seal of approval on this one, especially for giving something like this such a great treatment for its unveiling on DVD and taking the time to do things right!Fantoma now has this one exclusively.



-†† Nate Goss


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