Shock Corridor (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)
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In Shock Corridor, the great American writer-director-producer Samuel Fuller (The Naked Kiss, The Big Red One) masterfully charts the uneasy terrain between sanity and dementia. Seeking a Pulitzer Prize, reporter Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) has himself committed to a mental hospital to investigate a murder. As he closes in on the killer, madness closes in on him. Constance Towers (The Naked Kiss) costars as Johnny’s coolheaded stripper girlfriend. With its startling commentary on race in sixties America and daring photography by Stanley Cortez (The Night of the Hunter), Shock Corridor is now recognized for its far-reaching influence.
Maverick film director Samuel Fuller was doing some of his best work in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and in the years since its release in 1963, Shock Corridor has become a B-movie classic and a prime example of Fuller's gritty tabloid style. Never hesitant to explore the darkened corners of contemporary life, Fuller depicts the chambers of an insane asylum as a microcosm of American society, telling the story of a cynical, ambitious journalist (Peter Breck) whose obsessive quest for a Pulitzer Prize leads him into the depths of madness. To investigate a murder, the reporter goes undercover in a mental hospital, having convinced a psychiatrist that he needs treatment. Once inside the asylum, he pieces together clues to the murder, but his own mind begins to deteriorate until he's trapped in a downward spiral towards insanity. Fuller heightens the melodrama with his aggressive style of filmmaking (his next film, The Naked Kiss, proved even more effective), and his imaginative use of black-and-white cinematography (by noted cameraman Stanley Cortez) fills the movie with raw, emotional power. It's the kind of film one would expect from a rebellious director on the Hollywood fringe, and that's why Shock Corridor remains an enduring low-budget examination of the "rat race" and the consequences of pursuing success at any cost. The Criterion Collection DVD presents the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and a rarely seen color dream sequence has been fully restored. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this overlooked classic Peter Breck gives a terrific performance as Johnny Barrett, a newspaper reporter who goes undercover as a patient in a mental asylum in order to expose the ill treatment of the inmates. But he soon finds himself fearing for his own sanity when he himself winds up being abused. The situation is not helped when he begins to have disturbing dreams about his stripper girlfriend (Constance Towers) whom he harbours a secret anger against for exposing herself to other men. (The stripping scenes are a special highlight too). However Johnny also gains the unwanted attention of half a dozen attractive-slash-deranged female inmates who want to sexually exploit and degrade him. Who said only women were victims? Unfortunately some of the audio synchronicity in SHOCK CORRIDOR is appalling, especially in this scene and as a result the potential power of this sequence is lessened somewhat. (I viewed the UK videotape so I'll presume this was the work of the Pommie censors and not the intention of Fuller).
As if all this isn't bad enough, among the other inmates is an African American man with a split personality- his alter ego being a white supremacist. This leads to one of the movie's more unnerving moments where he dons a KKK outfit and sets an angry mob upon another Negro patient.Read more ›
The DVD of the film features an excellent video transfer with a so-so mono audio mix. Because this is an early effort from Criterion, the only extra you'll find here is a rather shabby theatrical trailer. Nowadays this would be disgraceful, but in 1998 (when the disc was first produced), it was about par for the course.
Unless you really, really like this film, consider a rental, not a purchase. Perhaps Criterion could re-issue _Shock Corridor_ with more extensive special features, as they've already done for Truffaut's _The 400 Blows_ and Cocteau's _Beauty and the Beast_.
This film first of all has a cery original plot.
A journalist has himself commited to a mental hospital to solve an unsolved murder case which occurred there. The film has interesting scenes of mental hospitals and appears to be well with the time period in which the film was made.
There are two scenes that some may find humorous. In one the main character takes a wrong turn and ends up in the nymphomaniac ward. The depiction of the result seem pretty tame by today's standards though. In the other scene an black patient suffers from the delusion that he is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
I for one foud the scene somewhat interesting given that this film was made in the early 60's at a time when race relations were beginning to change. I also wonder how they found a black actor willing to do such a scene.
The DVD has only a theactrical trailer for a special feature which is somewhat disappointing for a Criterion Collection release.
Overall this film is good but not very good.
This chilling story is a real anticipation of One flew over the Cuckoo's nest ; and even Jack Nicholson is not here, the tale goes beyond the unthinkable and even surpases the famous film of Foreman.
The script is much more dramatic than One flew, because Fuller made in that microcosmos an awful methapor of what's was going on in that moment in United States.
The horror when Peter Breck is chased by a crowd of men who decide dressing like a Klux's member is gripping.
The film is absorbing and obviously you may forget all the rules that governs the world in which we live. In certain mood this film is a dantesque hell, with all the evil manners you can imagine.
Fuller announces this film in Naked kiss twice.
This work is today admired by many people as a cult movie.
Watch this film even it disturbs you.
Because the reality goes far the fiction.
With the assistance of a mental health expert and his newspaper editor, Johnny trains for a year on how to be crazy in order to pull off the scheme, and then has his girlfriend Cathy (Constance Towers), an exotic dancer, act as his sister to claim Johnny is in love with her in more than just a 'brotherly' way, which would allow for his committal to the institution to the mental hospital. She is extremely reluctant to do so as she fears for his mental state and what may happen while Johnny is locked away with so much insanity.
Once inside, Johnny must keep his act believable, while trying to gather information from the three lunatics who witnessed the murder of a fellow inmate. As the story of the murder begins to unfold, Johnny is subject to treatments and such reserved for the mentally unhinged, and living among these individuals causes problems within Johnny's own mental state. Will he learn the identity of the killer before madness overtakes him?
Supporting characters include James Best as Stuart, an inmate who believes he's an officer in the confederate army. Many will probably recognize him as bumbling sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane from the 70's television show The Dukes of Hazzard. He is really a great actor, much better than he let on in that show.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The condition is like the title. I wanted the blu ray but screwed up and got the dvd. The case was cracked in the top and a huge piece of the case was protruding like a hangnail. Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2011 by Michael Twardowski
Like many films from the same time period, Shock Treatment intends to showcase serious and dramatic social/political issues that plague mankind, but attempts to do so in a... Read morePublished on Dec 24 2003 by S. Michael Wilson
A reporter seeking a Pulitzer Prize cons his way into being committed to an asylum to get the story on an unsolved murder case. Read morePublished on Oct. 20 2002 by Mark Norvell
This is one of my favourite movies - it improves everytime I watch it - and while it is great to own it on DVD it's a shame the transfer is so poor. Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2002
Alternately brilliant and infuriating, Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor is without question a one-of-a-kind film. Read morePublished on Dec 31 2001 by LGwriter
Stark, powerful, riveting, are some descriptions you might hear from others reviewing this film. Ok here's the deal, not as good as Fuller's other works like Naked Kiss or... Read morePublished on Sept. 21 2001 by BRIAN W. BRODY
I remember the first time I saw this film. I'd heard a lot about it beforehand, but wasn't sure how it'd be portrayed on screen. Read morePublished on July 12 2000 by albemuth