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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video interview with star Constance Towers by film historian and filmmaker Charles Dennis
  • The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera, Adam Simon's 1996 documentary on director Samuel Fuller
  • Original theatrical trailer

Shock Corridor

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Samuel Fuller
Starring: Peter Breck, Constance Towers
1963 | 101 Minutes | Licensor: F&F Productions

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #19
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: January 18, 2011
Review Date: January 19, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

In Shock Corridor, the great American writer-director-producer Samuel Fuller masterfully charts the uneasy terrain between sanity and dementia. Seeking a Pulitzer Prize, reporter Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) has himself committed to a mental hospital to investigate a murder. As he closes in on the killer, madness closes in on him. Constance Towers costars as Johnny's coolheaded stripper girlfriend. With its startling commentary on race in sixties America and daring photography by Stanley Cortez, Shock Corridor is now recognized for its far-reaching influence.

Forum members rate this film 6.6/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion have revisited Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor, presenting the film in the aspect ratio of about 1.75:1 on this dual-layer disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

Similar to Criterion’s new Blu-ray of The Naked Kiss their presentation of Shock Corridor is a substantial improvement over their previous DVD edition. Other than a few moments of softness the image is sharp and clear throughout. Contrast looks strong with distinct gray levels, and blacks are nice and inky, allowing for a great presentation of some of the more “shadowy” scenes.

The original DVD was laced with digital artifacts but I can’t say I detected anything noteworthy here, and the print has been significantly cleaned up, even the more problematic colour sequences that appear in the film briefly. In all it’s a great presentation and I never thought I would see the film ever looking anywhere near as good as how it looks here.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The original DVD’s mono track was a mess, and while the new lossless track itself isn’t without its faults it’s a far improvement over that presentation. My only complaint is that the music still has a tendency to screech and sound edgy when higher notes are reached in the music or when Peter Breck’s character does his own shrill scream (which is common during the last act,) but past that it stays very stable, presents no background noise, and contains clear, intelligible dialogue.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Disappointingly this release only contains two significant features, not counting the trailer, where I felt this one would probably get the more loaded edition between the two Fuller titles Criterion is releasing (Shock Corridor is being released along with Fuller’s The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray.) But I guess I shouldn’t complain too much since this is still a significant step up from their previous DVD.

Similar to their Blu-ray for The Naked Kiss Criterion includes another interview with Constance Towers conducted by Charles Dennis and recorded in 2007. Running 29-minutes she talks a little about Shock Corridor and Sam Fuller but surprisingly spends most of the interview covering other subjects. She gets into more detail about her early career, including how she was discovered, but then gets into great detail talking about working with other directors, including Blake Edwards and John Ford (or “Pappy Ford” as she calls him.) Though it disappointingly has very little about Fuller in comparison to her interview on the Naked Kiss disc (which was recorded during the session I must add) I actually liked this one a little better, especially the material on Ford.

The second supplement is at least a hefty one, a 55-minute documentary made for the BFI entitled The Typewriter, the Rifle, and the Movie Camera. In it Tim Robbins, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and Jim Jarmusch gush about Fuller and his films, concentrating primarily on The Steel Helmet, Shock Corridor, Pickup on South Street, and The Big Red One, as well as mentions of others like Underworld, U.S.A., Park Row, and White Dog. Jarmusch and Scorsese talk about Fuller and his in fairly static interviews, while both Tarantino and Robbins visit his “study” where he keeps all of his material, and you can see Tarantino is having trouble keeping his cool with the excitement just about completely overtaking him as he goes through everything. Robbins is also shown talking with Fuller, with the director recounting his life and work in the same style as he has done in every other interview I’ve ever seen with the man: direct, to the point, and with one of the craziest laughs I’ve ever heard from anyone. Though I am disappointed overall with the number of supplements we get, this is a great one and almost makes up for the lack of much else.

The disc then closes with the same 3-minute theatrical trailer, which is still a hoot.

The accompanying booklet contains an essay by Robert Polito followed by an excerpt from Fuller’s autobiography where he talks about the development of Shock Corridor, the casting, and more. Both are worth reading but the Fuller excerpt is easily the better of the two.

I think I was a little disappointed with this edition if only because I was expecting more for this title. But the two supplements, particularly the hour-long documentary, are both great and worth viewing.

6/10

CLOSING

Though the supplements maybe left me wanting a little more (despite their excellent quality) this release still offers a significant upgrade over the previous DVD from Criterion, with sharper audio and video, and comes with a strong recommendation.


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