Shockproof (1949) Douglas Sirk
Mention the name Douglas Sirk to classic movie fans and they’ll come up with certain words that evoke the director’s work, particularly the word “melodrama.” Do the same with Samuel Fuller and you might evoke the words “controversial,” “aggressive,” or “violent.” Sirk suggests high production values in his films; Fuller, low-budget. It seems almost unthinkable that the two would work together on a project, but it happened with Shockproof, written by Fuller and Helen Deutsch and directed by Sirk.
Griff Marat (Cornel Wilde) is a tough parole officer who falls in love with a parolee named Jenny Marsh (Patricia Knight), a woman who served time to protect her gambler boyfriend Harry Wesson (John Baragrey). Griff (It seems nearly every Fuller movie contains a character named Griff) is certain Jenny is going to straight back to Wesson upon release, so he hires her to take care of his blind mother (Esther Minciotti). But Wesson has his eye on Griff also, hoping to ruin Griff’s political aspirations.
I’m not quite sure how Sirk’s high-production melodrama blends with Fuller’s tough-as-nails script, but they merge beautifully for most of the film, which is marred only by an absolutely ridiculous studio-imposed “happily ever after” ending that is so ludicrous you’ll find yourself shaking your head. Even with such a stinker ending, Shockproof is a fine noir with nice performances, especially from Wilde and Knight (who were husband and wife at the time).
Next time: 20 years before Joan Crawford had vision problems for Steven Spielberg, she had them for Felix E. Feist.
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