Archive of films The Steel Helmet / The Steel Helmet

1951, 85 min

Section: Tribute to Samuel Fuller
Year: 2011

Veteran infantryman Fuller elaborated his experiences and memories from World War II into a low-budget drama set in the Korean War about a cynical sergeant named Zack who traverses the battlefields with a South Korean orphan in his wake. Today the cult film is valued for its emphasis on authenticity, atypical for the time, as well as for its courageous, anti-racial stance.


An early work by Sam Fuller that was fundamentally influenced by meeting Robert Lippert. Of the three movies which the independent producer and California drive-in theater pioneer financed for the beginning director, this Korean War drama, shot while the three-year military conflict was still under way, is today considered the most noteworthy. Proud former infantryman Fuller drew upon his harrowing memories from the Second World War: anger, exhaustion, fear, confusion and sadness over a companion’s death, and his encounters with bizarre characters from various corners of America. He then put these intense experiences into the story of a cynical war skirmisher named Sergeant Zack (the outstanding Gene Evans) who travels across the battlefields with a South Korean orphan in his wake. Thanks to the emphasis that screenwriter and director Fuller placed on authenticity and to his journalist’s sense for grippingly portraying the moment on a relatively small scale, even sixty years after its creation The Steel Helmet is considered a highlight of the genre as well as a courageous contemplation of American society and its still-current problems (e.g. racism). And it achieved all this despite a laughably low budget ($100,000) and a mere ten shooting days (mainly in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park).


Hollywood Classics
Suite 31, Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, E14 9XL, London
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 517 7525
E-mail: [email protected]

Academy Film Archive
1313 Vine Street, 90028, Los Angeles
United States of America
Tel: +1 310 247 301 633 32
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to Samuel Fuller
Director: Samuel Fuller
Screenplay: Samuel Fuller
Dir. of Photography: Ernest Miller
Music: Paul Dunlap
Editor: Philip Cahn
Producer: Samuel Fuller, Robert Lippert
Production: Deputy Corporation
Cast: Gene Evans, Robert Hutton, Steve Brodie, James Edwards, Richard Loo, Sid Melton
Contact: Hollywood Classics, Academy Film Archive


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