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Shock Corridor (The Criterion Collection) (1963)

Peter Breck , Constance Towers , Samuel Fuller  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans, James Best, Hari Rhodes
  • Directors: Samuel Fuller
  • Writers: Samuel Fuller
  • Producers: Samuel Fuller, Leon Fromkess, Sam Firks
  • Format: Black & White, Color, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 1998
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780021096
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,205 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shock Corridor (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

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

Product Description

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 the 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.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great American Original July 8, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fuller's strange world December 31, 2001
Format:DVD
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.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A DISTURBING MOVIE... October 20, 2002
Format:DVD
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.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars raw power July 12, 2000
Format:DVD
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!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Ambitious journalist Peter Breck lusts after a Pulitzer Prize or, at the very least, "a book, a play, even a movie sale." So what's a starving, scheming, modestly talented scribe to do? Why, according to Shock Corridor, he ought to get himself committed to a loony bin to grill the crazies who witnessed an unsolved murder, crack the case, then cinch his immortality by exposing to the world the venality and corruption of - yep, you guessed it--The System. "I'm scared this whole Jeckyll/Hyde idea is going to make a psycho out of me," warns Breck's stripper girlfriend, Constance Towers. A shrewd guess, since such watch-the-cast-go-psycho classics as this, The Snake Pit, The Cobweb and the Caretakers, exist only so actors can shred, chew and swallow the scenery. Early on, we're treated to Breck rehearsing his "part," the better to get him committed. He and Towers are so hilariously hammy in their abusive-brother-and-victimized-sister act, it's surprising that the loony bin doesn't book 'em both.

The fun really kicks into high gear when writer/director Samuel Fuller locks Breck inside what has to be the Movies' All-time Greatest Ward of Bad B-Actors. You'll drop your jaw when Larry Tucker, as a 300-lb. wife-killer, bellows operatic arias in our hero's face while the poor guy's trapped in bed; later, Tucker tops this bit with a scene where he actually force-feeds Breck chewing gum. You'll shake your head in disbelief, too, when shell-shocked James Best sets an early standard for Jack Nicholson-style over-the-top theatrics by Method-acting himself into delirium while reliving Civil War battles. And you'll cheer when the ward's bird-like schizo stares into the camera and socks over this immortal line: "I am impotent and I like it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars $ave Your Money
Far too many of my movie mistakes have found homes on the shelves of public libraries. Fortunately for me, this process was reversed with Shock Corridor. Read more
Published 2 months ago by D. Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind games
This is a really dark movie to watch, it holds your interest from start to finish. James Best stole the show, he was scary good.
Published 5 months ago by Mikaylalily
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow Moving
I liked the cool artwork on the box and in the leaflet, but the movie itself was quite boring and super predictable to me from the very beginning.
Published 9 months ago by Monica Penshorn
5.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't sure what to expect
Great film and an excellent transfer. This was my first Fuller film and I was very pleased with the outcome. If you like Fritz Lang's pre WWII stuff, you'll enjoy this movie. Read more
Published 15 months ago by B. Kelley
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Ahead of its Time
Sam Fuller's "Shock Treatment" is brilliant, and about 50 years after it was released, apparently still ahead of its time. Read more
Published on July 9, 2012 by Glenn Gallagher
5.0 out of 5 stars The film that makes my family look normal....
Written, produced and directed by Sam Fuller....lensed by Stanley Cortez....even Bela Lugosi couldn't have made this one more fantastical. Read more
Published on May 5, 2012 by Dr. Morbius
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating viewing experience.
SHOCK CORRIDOR is certainly an odd movie. I didn't really know too much about it, or its writer/director Sam Fuller prior to purchasing the Criterion BluRay. Read more
Published on October 17, 2011 by RMurray847
2.0 out of 5 stars Schlock Corridor
Where to begin with this lurid, overheated mess from writer-director Samuel Fuller? The storyline is risibly improbable, the characters are pathetically one-dimensional, and the... Read more
Published on April 3, 2011 by Thomas E. Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Man Convincingly Plays Role Of Racist Southerner
This movie just may be too "Shocking" for many viewers, even nearly fifty years after its release. Director Sam Fuller touches on many American taboos as usual, with the main theme... Read more
Published on March 6, 2011 by W. Powell
5.0 out of 5 stars Shock Corridor is an unappreciated classic!
Thanks to Criterion Collection for releasing this much unappreciated film by Samuel Fuller, an even more unappreciated director.
Published on May 8, 2010 by J S Lasher
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