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FEB. 18–27

Sam Fuller experienced war as a GI who spent 1942 to 1945 fighting his way from North Africa to Czechoslovakia. After an even longer struggle, the hard-boiled director brought those experiences to the screen in 1980’s The Big Red One, finally restored in 2004 to something resembling a director’s cut. Fuller’s first combat movies, however, were set during the then-current Korean War, and he made several other ’50s films involving Asians or Asian-Americans. One of those, Tokyo gangland tale House of Bamboo, screened at the Freer Gallery of Art in 2003; three others are in this series, which opens with 1959’s The Crimson Kimono (Feb. 18). Set in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, this crime drama features a pair of policemen—including a Japanese-American—who served together in the Korean War and now fall in love with the same woman. Always eager to challenge racist assumptions, Fuller included an interracial kiss that was then considered scandalous. Racism is also a theme of Fuller’s first war story, 1951’s The Steel Helmet (pictured; Feb. 25), which drew on the director’s own battlefield experiences. A squad of soldiers, including a Japanese-American and an African-American, find themselves behind enemy lines and must rely on an orphan’s guidance. Released later the same year, Fixed Bayonets (Feb. 27) is actually derived from a WWII saga, Immortal Sergeant. Transposed from North Africa to an icy Korea, the movie is typical Fuller: fiction as hard-edged tabloid journalism, with a healthy disregard for authority figures. The series opens Friday, Feb. 18, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 27 (all films screen on Fridays at 7 p.m.; see Showtimes for a weekly schedule), at the Freer Gallery of Art, 12th Street and Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 633-4880. (Mark Jenkins)