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Shock Corridor (The Criterion Collection)

4.1 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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

Special Features

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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
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 1998
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780021096
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,297 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shock Corridor (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 8, 1999
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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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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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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The setting for "Shock Corridor" serves as a metaphor for American society as a whole circa 1963. The film concerns a reporter(Peter Breck) who goes undercover in a mental hospital to uncover a murder case. There were three witnesses to the murder and all have severely damaged psyches. A Southern farm boy (James Best) who under duress in Korea betrayed his country and now thinks he's a Confederate Army officer. A self loathing black man (Hari Rhodes) who was used as a guinea pig in integrating a Southern University and now thinks he's a Klansman. A formal nuclear physicist(Gene Evans) who worked on the Manhattan Project and now operates on a six year old level. They all have moments of clarity and it's up to the reporter to be there when they do to crack the case. The reporter is not without his own flaws. He has delusions of grandeur that his investigation will result in a Pulitzer Prize and he is also engaged in a relationship with a stripper (Constance Towers) that would hint at some form of sexual dysfunction. There's also a grossly obese character(Larry Tucker) who thinks he's Pagliacci who may be the sanest man in the room. Director Samuel Fuller abetted by cinematographer Stanley Cortez create a claustrophobic atmosphere that intensifies the drama that at times is unbearable. The film begins and ends with the quotation "Who God wants to punish he makes insane first". I'm still chewing on that one but it does offer food for thought. A note of trivia is that Tucker would later be a contributing writer for the Monkees TV series and collaborate with Paul Mazursky on the script for "Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice".
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