Wednesday 31 July 2019

Shock - 1946 movie review

Shock is a film noir from 1946, and it gave Vincent Price an early leading role as a murderous psychiatrist. It's a minor picture in many ways, a typical B movie perhaps, with a supporting cast whose members I've never heard of, just as I'm unfamiliar with the director and writers. But it's decent light entertainment.

The story begins with a young woman checking into a hotel, where she is due to reunite with her husband, who has been a prisoner of war. He is delayed, and as she waits nervously, she looks out of the window of her room. In true Rear Window fashion, she looks into another window, and sees a man battering his wife to death with a candlestick after an argument over their divorce. That man is Vincent Price.

When her husband shows up, she is in a state of shock. He calls for medical help, and the doctor tells him that luckily there is an expert in mental health problems in the hotel. It goes without saying that this turns out to be....Vincent Price. He realises he's been spotted by the woman, and makes sure she is transferred to a sanatorium that he runs, assisted by the nurse for whom he wanted to leave his wife.

It's a pretty good set-up, and the story moves along at a decent pace towards its inevitable conclusion. Price's performance is excellent, since he brings an element of thoughtfulness and conscience to a part that is quite lightly written. It's worth watching Shock just for Price's contribution. Interestingly, the film was condemned on release by a critic who thought it might deter war veterans with PTSD from seeking psychiatric help. This is, I think, a good example of a mistake that critics continue to make. It seems undesirable to judge books and films primarily in relation to their treatment of a particular social agenda, however important that agenda might be, above all if their intention is just to entertain.

No comments: