Release Date: January 10th, 1946
Directed by: Alfred L. Werker
Written by: Euguene Ling, Martin Berkeley, Albert DeMond
Music by: David Buttolph
Cast: Vincent Price, Lynn Bari, Frank Latimore
20th Century Fox, 70 Minutes
“I’m neither a miracle man nor a prophet, Lieutenant. If medicine were an exact science, not an art, I might be able to tell you.” – Dr. Richard Cross
Before becoming a legend and an icon in the horror genre, Vincent Price dabbled in film-noir pictures during the heyday of that style. In Shock, he plays a character that isn’t too dissimilar from the characters he would become most famous for.
This is a short little noir put out by a major studio, 20th Century Fox to be exact. However, it actually feels like a noir that came from one of the “Poverty Row” studios. It has a really low budget look and a gritty realism to it, where most major studio noir movies are enchanting and pristine looking affairs.
Lynn Bari stars as a young woman who witnesses a murder from her apartment window. The next morning, she is found in wide-eyed shock, sitting on her couch. The psychiatrist that evaluates her, played by Vincent Price, is the same man that committed the murder. The young woman finds herself locked away in a sanitarium under the care of the very monster responsible for her broken mental state.
The premise of this noir is interesting but overall, this isn’t a particularly good movie.
Price has a good presence but everyone else just feels like B-movie bit players with more script to chew on than is necessary. It’s not impressive, in any way, from a technical standpoint. The shots are pretty basic, the atmosphere just exists and it is lacking the visual allure of the noir style.
All of this is why this major studio picture feels like something less than what it is. It had a $350,000 budget, which was a lot for the time when compared to The Maltese Falcon, which had about the same budget a few years prior. There is a huge difference in quality between the two films, Falcon obviously being quite superior.
Vincent Price still makes this a worthwhile film, though. He always put his best foot forward and delivered, even if the film around him wasn’t up to the standard that Price held himself to.