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Shock Corridor (1963)


kingrat
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I hesitated about watching Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor, wondering if it would be too violent for me. It's about a newspaper reporter who goes undercover in an insane asylum to find a killer. After seeing the first half of the film--and maybe this is because I was expecting something heavy and noirish--instead, I'm finding it so campy it makes Johnny Guitar look like Diary of a Country Priest. Highlights include:

 

--With an enormous feather boa wrapped around her face, Constance Towers seems to be doing the first ever Muppet striptease.

--A miniature Constance Towers dances around on the face and body of Peter Breck.

--Speaking of Peter Breck, this poor guy, who's trying for all he's worth, is so hammy he deserves a fistful of Razzies. Indeed, Shock Corridor confirms MissGoddess's suggestion that Fuller is not very good with actors who need a director's help.

--A dude who belongs on The Biggest Loser is called Pagliacci, even though he keeps humming an aria from The Barber of Seville. At one point it looked like Pagliacci was going to squash our hero by sitting on him, but no such luck.

--James Best gets to dance to the tune of "Dixie." Was this his audition tape for The Dukes of Hazzard?

--Our hero gets trapped in a roomful of nymphomaniacs. He falls to the floor and they converge on him. He screams and screams, though they aren't ripping his clothes off and don't appear to be doing much of anything. Meanwhile, a gal made up to look like Liz Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof prances around the room singing "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."

 

Honest, I'm not making any of this stuff up. Sam Fuller did.

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Exactly, redriver. Mark, glad you had some fun with Shock Corridor.

 

Jonas, we'll have to agree to disagree about what we find to be camp. Almost all gay men, among other people, regard Johnny Guitar as camp. I'm not ignoring the part of the film that talks seriously about naming names, but there's a certain frozen-faced diva as well.

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I just get tired of hearing about it is all (my post wasn't aimed at you personally but to the general response these kinds of films would have around here.)

 

All of the "camp" parts of Johnny Guitar have as much thematically to do with the film as the blacklist thing, simply on the level of genre and cinema but particularly within all of Nicholas Ray's films. I don't really have a problem with certain parts being considered camp but I don't think that necessarily makes the entire movie camp (and a lot of the things people find humorous about the film are intentional; some of the other potentially unintended funny moments I never laughed at - but that's me.)

 

It just irks me that people can take the "I'll never be hungry again" speech seriously in a movie about the lies and myth of the Antebellum South and then simply cast off something as wildly original as Johnny Guitar, which is always honest with itself.

 

I remember someone here posted that they went to see a film on a double bill with The Rocky Horror Picture show. The film that they wanted to see played first and the Rocky Horror people would not shut up. This poster actually had to berate them for ruining the movie he wanted to see. Apparently, it worked in his case and they did shut up for most of the film. From what I know about theatrical showings of Johnny Guitar, I would not be able to see the movie in this country without suffering those types of people - I'd have to go to Japan or France to see it without idiotic commentary, quotations, and all of that stuff.

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> {quote:title=JonasEB wrote:}{quote}

> I remember someone here posted that they went to see a film on a double bill with The Rocky Horror Picture show. The film that they wanted to see played first and the Rocky Horror people would not shut up. This poster actually had to berate them for ruining the movie he wanted to see. Apparently, it worked in his case and they did shut up for most of the film.

 

That poster would be me. I quite agree with you about *Johnny Guitar* and *Shock Corridor*. They are both bizarre, but neither was intended to be camp, even if *JG* is so considered today. *Shock Corridor* is much like an off-off Broadway stage play of the 60s, shocking, and symbolic. I think it is my favorite Sam Fuller film, even though it is very different from the style of most of his films, which I also love.

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