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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

SHOCK TREATMENT (1964)

 Lauren Bacall: Who's crazy?
SHOCK TREATMENT (1964). Director: Denis Sanders.

Harley Manning (Judson Laire) hires actor Dale Nelson (Stuart Whitman) to feign mental problems so that he can be admitted for observation in a mental hospital. It seems that crazy gardener Martin Ashley (Roddy McDowall), who lopped off his elderly employer's head with garden shears, may know where some of the old lady's fortune is hidden. Unfortunately, Dr. Beighley (Lauren Bacall), also has an interest in that money, and has developed a drug that can turn certain people into catatonics ... Made a year after Shock Corridor, in which the hero also feigned mental illness in order to be admitted to an institution, Shock Treatment may not necessarily be a better movie, but it is a lot more fun, a rather absurd melodrama that typically exploits mental illness without ever having anything of note to say about it. However, as a melodrama this works all the way through. While Whitman [Sands of the Kalahari] and Bacall [The Cobweb] are okay, the best performances come from Carol Lynley (as another patient) and McDowall [Fright Night], who gets across the character's anger and madness without chewing the scenery. Ossie Davis and Bert Freed have smaller roles. Everything seems resolved a little too neatly at the end, but the finale is very amusing, if not very believable.

Verdict: Watch out for Bacall and her needle! ***.

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