Shockproof

1949

Crime / Drama / Film-Noir

3
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 48%
IMDb Rating 6.6 10 993

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English
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1hr 19 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bmacv 8 / 10

Interesting noir with distinctive Sirkian twist

Released from prison after five years for killing a man to protect her gambling lover (John Baragrey), hard case Patricia Knight comes under the purview of parole officer Cornel Wilde. Trying to keep her from the clutches of the still-infatuated Baragrey, Wilde moves her into his household as companion to his blind, widowed mother. Inevitably they fall in love and wed secretly, since marriage is a violation of parole. Not one to read a Dear John letter lightly, Baragrey attempts to blackmail Knight with old billets-doux but is shot in a struggle. Wilde, on the verge of turning her in, relents, and, in a long sequence that was reprised almost exactly two years later in Tomorrow is Another Day, joins her on the lam, making ends meet as a day-laborer and living in shacks. But the strain of poverty and fear of apprehension begin to corrode....

Douglas Sirk, later to reach fulfilment in lushly overwrought melodramas like Written on the Wind, shows a nice flair for the conventions of noir in this well scripted and acted film, which maintains its integrity until its rabbit-out-of-the-hat ending -- surely not the one penned by co-scenarist Samuel Fuller. (The title, by the way, seems basically meaningless but to have been chosen for its purely abstract, noirish resonance.)

Reviewed by Spikeopath 7 / 10

Give all to love obey thy heart.

Shockproof is directed by Douglas Sirk and written by Samuel Fuller and Helen Deutsch. It stars Cornel Wilde, Patricia Knight, John Baragrey and Esther Minciotti. Music is by George Duning and cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.

When convicted murderess Jenny Marsh (Knight) is released into his care, parole officer Griff Marat (Wilde) literally finds his life being turned upside down...

As many film noir lovers will attest too, there are a number of noir movies out there that frustrate with their endings to the point it induces anger. One such film is Shockproof, a meeting of two great film making minds undone by a studio decision so soapy and irrelevant that studio heads should have rolled post haste.

I'm the one who gets spanked.

Shockproof actually is a great film noir, it takes a simple honest to goodness man, introduces a classic femme fatale into his life, and before you can say "stop you fool", he's in it up to his neck. Stylistically it's top notch noir as well. Sirk and Lawton consistently have bar shadows featuring prominently, Jenny Marsh never escapes them, she may be out of prison but the parole office and latterly Harry Wesson's (Baragrey very good as her no good weasel boyfriend) hotel room consistently imprison her - and actually, Griff as it comes to pass. The Marat home is a delightful amalgamated design of art deco and the ornate. While in Wilde's hands Griff moods and smokes a lot, just as Jenny smolders and dives into his soft melancholic eyes (Wilde really does have sad eyes!).

Excuse me while I push Humpty Dumpty off his wall!

It's all there, for a good hour it's prime film noir, both as a story (the protags join a fine list of noir couples on the lam) and for tech skills as well, but then it all goes pear shaped. Even before you realise that Griff has suddenly abandoned his disabled mother and younger brother without so much as a goodbye, a turn of events leads to a Hollywood type ending (Deutsch brought in for the rewrite) that defies logic, belief, and something that ultimately comes off as insulting. Aaaarggghhh! Sirk and Fuller were disgusted, both wanted Fuller's original ending, and when you look into it, it would have been film noir nirvana and most fitting. A shame unbound for sure, for this is great for the most part as Wilde and Knight have genuine sparks (a real off screen romance) and Sirk, Fuller and Lawton are in sync thematically.

In its fullest form it's a sad 5/10 movie, if turning off 5 minutes before the end and pretending that the couple's fate is unknown - or using our own imaginations and supplanting Fuller's originally scripted finale, then it's a mightily strong piece of film noir.

Reviewed by Martin Teller 6 / 10

Shockproof (1949)

A parole officer falls for one of his charges, but is she playing him for a sucker? Not so much a noir as a noir-esque romantic melodrama, and not up to the level of the best from either director Douglas Sirk or writer Sam Fuller. The story could have gone one of two ways, and it chose the less interesting path (from what I've read, this might have been a studio decision). However, Cornel Wilde and Patricia Knight (actual spouses at the time) handle their performances quite well, and play off each other with conviction and chemistry. The script has some nice touches, the photography is pretty sharp, and the supporting roles are good. It's certainly a watchable movie, just rather bland... and it wraps up far too easily.

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