Seeking a Pulitzer Prize, a reporter has himself committed to a mental hospital to investigate a murder. As he closes in on the killer, madness closes in on him. Writer/director/producer Samuel Fuller masterfully charts th... more »e uneasy terrain between sanity and dementia. Criterion is proud to present Shock Corridor in a gorgeous, black and white widescreen transfer with its rarely-seen color sequences.« less
"Perhaps Fuller's most audacious film--the first time I saw it, my jaw was on the ground. Some take it only as a cult item, but when you realize this was made in 1963 as an indictment of Cold War paranoia and homegrown racism, you begin to appreciate exactly how ahead of the curve Sam was. While Sam Fuller's films may not be for everyone (such as the previous reviewer), there's nothing cheesy about this at all. True, Shock Corridor is very low budget. But it also has Stanley Cortez (The Magnificent Ambersons) behind the camera. If it's so inept, why did John Ford often visit the set, saying he might learn something? Why did Jean-Luc Godard pay hommage to Fuller in many of his early films, even using him in Pierrot le Fou to deliver his definition of cinema ("A film is like a battleground--love, hate, action, violence, death...in one word--emotion!")? Why has Martin Scorsese (along with Quentin Tarentino and others) called Shock Corridor is "a masterpiece"? No, when such an array of talented people find so much of worth here, then you know this is far from Ed Wood territory. Experience Sam Fuller's "Kino-Fist" style right between your eyes--he may be one of our most neglected directors."
Fuller's strange world
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 12/31/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alternately brilliant and infuriating, Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor is without question a one-of-a-kind film. Shot in black and white in 1963, it tells the story of a newspaper reporter who's convinced he can win the Pulitzer Prize if only he can penetrate the inner sanctum of a mental hospital to solve a murder that's been committed there--something the police have apparently not been able to accomplish.The bizarre juxtaposition of intensity and immaturity, anger and pulp, outrageousness and illogic tells you that this is the work of a film maker who's not afraid to take chances. Fuller seems to be deliberately trying to rattle or irritate the viewer: a stripper sings a slow torch song and only partially disrobes, a nuclear physicist prattles like a six year old, a 300 pound man sings the same opera aria repeatedly to awaken another man. It's not hard to tell that the dialogue is defiantly pulpy, with emphasis on "defiant". Fuller was obviously enraged with the more destructive qualities of American culture and let his audience know it in no uncertain terms.But with the pulp--and how much more pulpy can you get than the reporter's girlfriend being a stripper?--there's also startling power. A war veteran relates his dreams of living with South American primitives, brought shockingly to life with a rare color sequence. A black man spouts virulent anti-black racial epithets and dons a makeshift KKK hood, chasing another black man down a hallway. The reporter himself wonders why, at crucial moments, he's unable to speak. A scathing attack on the relentless American drive for success, power, and acceptance, this movie, for all its frequently dated, semi-trashy dialogue, ranks as one of the best films of its time or any period in American history. The ruthless, downbeat ending--the murderer is discovered, but at a terrible price--is a fitting, bitter conclusion."
A DISTURBING MOVIE...
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 10/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A reporter seeking a Pulitzer Prize cons his way into being committed to an asylum to get the story on an unsolved murder case. Peter Breck (from TV's "The Big Valley") is good as the reporter. He blends in with the other male inmates trying to ferret out the facts but discovers insanity is nothing to toy with. Constance Towers (also in Fullers' "The Naked Kiss") is a stripper and his loyal girlfriend who notices Breck's mental deterioration on her visits. She tries but can't get him out. He has more or less sealed his own fate. The portrayals of the other inmates are powerful and there are some real doozies locked in with Breck. But I found the movie to be so vivid that it was almost unpleasant to watch. The scenes in the asylum are disturbing. The scenes outside the asylum are depressing and even Towers' strip routine at the nite club where she works is downbeat. Breck's plight is overwhelmingly doomed. This is without a doubt a challenging film but I can only recommend it with a warning. If you are emotionally affected by films be careful with this one. It will linger with you after you've seen it. Still it's a powerful and unusual film worthy of a cult following and a collector's item."
albemuth | 07/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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. I also had the good fortune of seeing on the big screen. From the first scene on I sat there with my eyes and my mouth wide open. It's such an amazingly powerful film, based largely on factual events and people Fuller had talked to - this doesn't mean it's by any means a true story, but what really grabs you is how you can see and understand how real all the issues he talks about were (and unfortunately still today are). It's a kinetic, visceral experience, and the only film that has moved me like PSYCHO did, the first time I saw it. The colour sequence just made my spine vibrate. His vision is bleak, the film and acting can be crude, but the raw power it has will simply obliterate any such resistance. God, what an experience!"
yann schinazi | colorado | 12/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sam Fuller is an incarnation of cinema: the martyr-philosopher of genre pictures, his films contain all the elements hinted at in his definition of cinema in Godard's legendary, tragic philosophical noir 'Pierrot Le Fou': Hate, love, war, violence, action, death, in one word: emotion. 'Shock Corridor', Fuller's grand social commentary sold as a thrill-ride, is one of those immortal films, like Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' or Ray's 'Rebel Without A Cause' that contain all of cinema in their frames. Watching them is pure exhillaration, a fight against classicalism and anti-classicalism, poetry and prose. In 'Shock Corridor', Fuller constructs a deeply symbolic story of a man who goes too far in his own cynicism: a journalist wanting to do a piece on mental treatment and poses as a threat in order to be committed to a mental institution and is exposed to emotions so powerful that he descends into complete insanity. Fuller's message is that Man fights against his ultimate destiny and believes himself to be more powerful than his emotions because he lives in a repressed society, yet when he is put into a Barbarian environment, his true emotions come through because he does not feel the need to conform to the image that society projects, Fuller is saying that emotions can only be extreme and that society tries to moderate and manipulate them. The great Bertolucci who would later quote 'Shock Corridor' in his beautiful ode to cinema, 'The Dreamers', in one of that film's most electrifying displays of cinephillia as the character compares the experience of seeing a Fuller film to that of being hypnotized. Indeed, in all of Fuller's luridness, it is impossible to love cinema in itself, and not love Sam Fuller, he merges and crashes and celebrates everything about film at the same time with anarchistic glee and with a mixture of love, contempt, and rebellion...but never restraint."