Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sam Fuller: Shock Corridor, Part II

Shock Corridor (1963), in addition to containing serious thought about the state of the world at the time of its making, also showcases a lot of pulp fiction B movie absurdities. For example, there's the character of Cathy (Constance Towers). Why is she a striptease dancer and why is she so invested in Johnny, the journalist, at all?  There are scenes where she dances in his head like some bizarro proto-version of Bewitched (1964-1972) or I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970).   

And then there's the attack of the "nymphos:" why? Totally absurd, like a modern version of Dionysian rites in full play through the scrim of male or "family values" fantasy. What exactly are they trying to do to Johnny, grope him or tear him to pieces? A grimmer answer to this scene can be found in Sam Peckinpah's Cross of Iron (1977).

Then there's the whole issue in its entirety of how to portray Bedlam. Many of the "mad" characters seem like a bad joke, though the cultural tie-in and critique is nicely repeated in Philipe de Broca's anti-war film, Le Roi de Cœur / King of Hearts (1966).  One of the more interesting characters in Shock Corridor is "overweight" Pagliacci, an opera singer, who comes off more plausibly than most of the others, but he doesn't really drive the plot in any clear way.

Finally, it's worth noting the bright colorful scenes intercut for extra effect during specific PTSD memory sequences in this otherwise black and white movie: a very cool technique, indeed.

Today's Rune: Movement.  


Charles Gramlich said...

i often like these surreal kinds of things. Food for the mind, at least.

jodi said...

Erik-Constance Towers? OMG, she was in one of my soaps back in the day. She played a straight laced matriarch type. What a leap from a stripper!

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