Oh what a top buzz indeed. I just seen a film that sits perfectly to the feeling I had when I first watched John Frankenheimer’s 1966 thriller with Rock Hudson, the quite brilliant Seconds. That same feeling of watching something really special and highly original for the time. Damn man, Shock Corridor hit all the right notes for me.
“Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad”
This is the story of an overzealous newspaper journalist called Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) who is determined to win the Pulitzer Prize for the ultimate story. His mission is to get committed to a mental hospital and work from the inside to solve a murder with the hope of discovering information from three witnesses.
First though he has to get in the insane asylum. With the help of a professional psychiatrist and his newspaper boss they come up with the crazy notion to get Johnny’s girlfriend, beautiful exotic dancer Cathy (Constance Towers) to pretend to be his sister and to report her “brother” for his incestous advances. Within no time, our hero happily gets what he wants!
Cathy – “Johnny, you’ve gotta’ be crazy to want to be committed to an insane asylum to solve a murder.”
Set up sounding like a classic B-movie with taglines like “Opens The Doors To Sights You’ve Never Seen Before” to “Recommended for Adults Only!” and to gets those bums on seats, the pull of “Shocking World of Psychos and Sex-Maddened Women Exposed!” but in reality this movie is an all star A class thriller.
Directed, written and produced by Samuel Fuller. The script is outstanding, the edits, overlapping images and the lush black and white print are all sublime. The “street” might be just a corridor but it’s extended look just makes it look menacing. The interviews with the three inmate witnesses are so compelling when they hit a spot of awareness and it’s conveyed in image form, so creative. Plus the fight or getting dragged off scenes are so extremely realistic.
Plus did I say it has Nymphos!
Wilkes – “I used to work in the Female Wing. But the “Nympho Ward” got too dangerous for me.”
Johnny – “Nymphos!”
Johnny – “Last time I went into a secret room I was attacked by Amazons!” Wilkes – “Ha That’s a dream most men have.”
Can our Johnny escape the nymphos, find a knife and fork or decipher the nonsense to get that perfect story and achieve the ultimate prize whilst holding on to his own sanity. Tune in to find out, you won’t be disappointed. This here Wolfie absolutely loved it.
Fun Fact – Samuel Fuller became a journalist at an insane young age working as a crime reporter at 17 for the New York Evening Graphic.
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5 thoughts on “Shock Corridor (1963) – Loony Bin Detective”
[…] for the surprise. He’s back with another controversial film hot on the heels of the brilliant Shock Corridor, writer and director Samuel Fuller gets to unleash another bout of […]
Great post 🙂 I love Shock Corridor and it really is a telling social commentary on how journalists will do anything for a story and in this case, that would mean posing as somebody crippled with insanity. The three patient character he interacts with also reveal a lot about the issues of race, politics and nuclear war. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂
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Shock Corridor was incredible, it was so much more than I was expecting. Yes it’s all about those 3 meetings, giving the film a great social commentary with a good trippy surreal feel. Amazing film, thanks.
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