Shock Corridor

Thursday July 15, 2004 – 7:30pm
USA, 1963. Director: Samuel Fuller

Independent film auteur Samuel Fuller’s overwrought and sensational Shock Corridor has been described as perhaps the best B-movie ever made. Peter Breck stars as Johnny Barrett, a newspaper reporter who decides to impersonate a sexually perverted insane man in order to have himself committed to a San Francisco asylum, the site of an unsolved recent murder. Barrett’s hope is that the patients know who the murderer is —and that by coaxing information out of them, he will win a Pulitzer prize. Once committed, Johnny locates his witnesses, including a black man who behaves like a white supremacist and an atomic scientist who now has the mind of a child. We also meet the crude media stereotypes of mental illness prevalent at that time – women depicted only as “the Nymphos” with scores of men posturing catatonically, cowering against the walls, or rowing phantom boats. There is an abundance of camp – including, in an otherwise black and white film, some truly bizarre inserts of color stock footage of Buddahs, raging waterfalls and Amazon body-painting rituals. Yet “Shock Corridor” somehow remains a rare treat, a B-movie that actually says something – a heavy-hitting denouncement of America’s bigotry, arms race and xenophobia as cultural equivalents of insanity to 1963 audiences who may or may not have assented to these diagnoses.
Colour, 16 mm, 105 mins.

The program will include a post-screening discussion with:
Ramon Kubicek writer, artist, educator. Ramon currently teaches film history as well as art and design history at Emily Carr Institute. He has published short fiction, poetry, criticism, a book on art, “One Source”, and worked on film documentaries.

Evening moderated by:
Dr. Harry Karlinsky Director of Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.