Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

SHOCK CORRIDOR

Attack of the Nymphos!
SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963). Produced, written and directed by Samuel Fuller.

"Their sickness is bound to rub off on you." -- Cathy

"Nymphos!"

Johnny Barrett hopes to win a Pulitzer prize by feigning a mental disorder that will get him committed to an asylum where he can find out who murdered one of the patients. He enlists his highly agitated girlfriend, Cathy (Constance Towers), to pretend to be his sister, so he can claim an incestuous attachment. Among the inmates that Barrett investigates are an ex G.I., Stuart (James Best), who turned traitor and now thinks he's a general in the confederacy; Boden (Gene Evans), a genius scientist who suffered a nervous breakdown and acts like a child; "Pagliacci" (Larry Tucker) a likable chubby guy who sings an aria from Barber of Seville off-key; and Trent (Hari Rhodes), a black man who has deluded himself that he is a white supremacist. Trying to be topical and controversial, Fuller has managed to come up with a movie that is undeniably arresting at times but, sadly, isn't very good, with some awful and pretentious dialogue, and scenes that border on parody. Barrett somehow manages to wind up in a ward for nymphomaniacs-- only because the script demands it -- where the women seem more interested in clawing him than kissing him -- it's an hilariously ludicrous sequence, badly overdone as so much of the movie is. Periodically Fuller inserts color stock footage (in a black and white movie) to illustrate certain points, and what can one say about Towers' dance number but that it is seriously weird? There are some good performances, with Breck [I Want to Live!] and Evans [The Giant Behemoth] coming off best. Fuller seems to have directed Constance Towers to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown herself. Mental illness is more exploited by the movie than examined. Samuel Fuller could make some good movies -- Forty Guns, for instance -- but this one is a notable failure.

Verdict: It's different, certainly, but still not very good. **.

No comments: