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Thread: Shock Corridor

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Ottawa Canada

    Shock Corridor

    This hallway is the magic highway to the Pulitzer Prize...

    Despite a terrible print, last night at the pacific cinematheque was divine.
    The star of Shock Corridor (Peter Breck) was in the house to watch the film and discuss Samuel Fuller.

    Indeed, one of the first things he said at the table in front of the stage was "what happened to that film?!" We had whole SECTIONS missing: the color sequences, some amazon footage, water drops on his palm, the rowboat- the film was butchered and no one had an explanation.
    In any event, the film is still the greatest B movie of all-time.
    Johnny Barrett is a journalist. He and his paper want a killer scoop- so they hatch a plan for him to be admitted to a mental hospital to crack a murder mystery- the death of Sloane.
    Johnny is admitted to the psych ward after he tells doctors he's attracted sexually to his sister, Cathy. Cathy is a striptease artist in a cabaret show- in the first half hour we see a really raunchy burlesque number. Can she grind!

    Johnny must keep up his act of mental illness in order to "get the scoop", but things get really hairy for him. He's gotta contend with real nutjobs: an obese opera singer/chewing gum enthusiast, a patient who thinks he's a soldier in General Lee's army, a black man named Trent who has a problem with racism, and a strange guy who thinks he's pregnant.
    Couple the stress of that with lack of sleep, a roomful of nymphomaniacs (women, not men- great scene btw- one of my favorites) and electroshock therapy, and 'ol Johnny is ACTUALLY BECOMING INSANE.

    The climax is awesome- the corridor (or The Longest Corridor which was the original title for the film) floods and Johnny is electrocuted by lightning. There is a shot in this scene that gives qualification to the fact that this is more than just a "B-movie".
    It's a POV shot looking straight up at Johnny, in full rage, as the rain pounds down. Breathtaking shot- used twice.
    That's the film in a nutshell.
    Afterwards, the talk with Peter Breck was truly an honor. He regaled us with his tales as an actor (Have Gun Will Travel, Maverick, Perry Mason, Beatniks, The Dukes of Hazzard- which he did with his co-star James Best)

    He told us some cool facts about Shock Corridor:
    -it was shot in 5 weeks

    -yes, Fuller did fire a gun for every scene to "keep the actors focused"- it's not just a legend!

    -the flooding/rain scene used 50,000 gallons of water and Fuller told him " if it gets too hard on you in the rain, just pull on any of the doorknobs- you'll go off set. Wrong! Fuller nailed all of the doors shut! So when you see Johnny frantically trying to open doors, he's really trying to get out! Method acting?

    -when asked if Fuller was making an actual document of how mental hospitals operate, Mr. Breck said: "I don't know. I do know he never spoke to any of the actors about it. You'd have to look that up- I don't know if he visited any hospitals or what. Sorry I can't answer that question better".

    Mr. Breck was in great spirits, talking about his buddy Robert Mitchum, Barbara Stanwyck, Lee Majors, and how Hal Needham (famous stuntman) taught him how to do his own stunts- Breck is an "honorary stuntman" in Hollywood.

    A great night, a classic film with the star on hand to discuss, all in all a perfect evening for a film buff such as I.
    Last edited by Johann; 02-13-2012 at 10:19 AM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Ottawa Canada
    Mr. Peter Breck died recently (Feb. 6/2012) in Vancouver Canada. Sad news.
    I met him at that Shock Corridor screening mentioned above, and I still have the autographed ticket he signed for me.

    Thanks Peter.
    Hope you're having a whiskey with Sam Fuller right about now...
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd


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