Shockproof (Douglas Sirk, 1949)

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david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

Shockproof (Douglas Sirk, 1949)

#1 Post by david hare » Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:16 am

I would have liked to place this in a Douglas Sirk Filmmakers thread but we don't have one yet.

Knockout movie (my first viewing so I'm in shock..) Fuller co-screenplay, if not the code imperilled finale, and Charles Lawton as DP. Patricia Knight as the Hamiltonian babe is a revelation (whatever happened to her?) and Cornell Wilde seems to go nuts in his amazing role as Italian Mamma's Boy represso. The material actually reminds me a lot of Fuller's great Naked Kiss with sublime Connie Towers in a reimagination of the Knight role - bad girl goes "straight" and marries the satanic end of town.

I am just in a tizz- this movie requires a grat deal more digestion before I can post on it. And it definitely belongs to that rare little group of "co-auteured" movies like Enfants Terribles and One Hour with You. Both Fuller's and Sirk's perosnality are totally on display.

Anyhow, despite the boot origins here are some caps - what the hell.

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GringoTex
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am

#2 Post by GringoTex » Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:38 am

This is a great little film. Indicative of the Hollywood factory that Sirk and Fuller never actually met for it.

Fuller's original script had it ending with Wilde having a gun battle with his fellow officers. His instructions were to turn it into a war movie in the last reel. Unfortunately, the studio censored it.

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Via_Chicago
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 12:03 pm

#3 Post by Via_Chicago » Wed Oct 10, 2007 11:05 am

I honestly wasn't a very big fan of this picture. That's not to say that it's without its merits, in fact there are some extremely strong scenes. However, I felt that it actually failed to combine the visions of its two main artists (unlike a film like Les Enfants Terribles which I think works quite wonderfully). There is a constant dichotomy between the domestic melodrama and the more pulp-like qualities of Fuller's work. Yet these two divergent sources never really feel drawn together. It's an interesting movie, but not a great one.

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Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

#4 Post by Matt » Wed Oct 10, 2007 1:05 pm

I'd like to see this again. I originally saw it as the second half of a double bill with Pickup on South Street early on in my film education. I skipped the Fuller because I didn't know who he was and saw this, expecting typical operatic Sirk. Boy, was I disappointed. Now that I know who the hell Fuller is (and appreciate him), I bet I'd see this film very differently.

This is why I'm often a menace to young film fans who think they've seen it all and know it all. It reminds me of my own stupidity.

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david hare
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#5 Post by david hare » Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:52 pm

I hope Via_Chicago revisits Shockproof. Even allowing for the studio imposed ending, which incredibly lets Patricia Knight and Wilde off the hook, what is so fascinating to see in Shockproof is the merging of Sirk's sensibility with Fullers personality through the treatment of the screenplay and narrative (at one point Knight reads to the blind mother from Emerson!) and, equally, the way Sirk invests a completely Fullerian narrative of the semi-entropic descent of the leads into an on the lam flight from "normality" into paranoia and mutual suspicion with his characteristic closed rooms, enclosing shards of light, menacing ceilings and mirrors.

The key to it all is Knight, a total life force who is not only constrained but virtually metaphsycially "imprisoned" by the two men she loves - Wilde and John Baragrey. In a sense Knight's conflicted character is as complex as, say Robert Stack's in House of Bamboo (with his divided sexual and personal allegiances to Ryan and Shirley Yamaguchi), and certainly Connie Towers in Naked Kiss. As are Baragrey's - the cultivated erudite "villain" for whom Knight has killed. And Cornell Wilde who only escapes the oedipal womb through the flight from "civilization and a potentially deadly flight intio personal "growth".

Chicago give it another hard look. I think it's one of those movies like Lubitsch's Angel which you might approach with preconditioned expectations about either director (or writer) but it in fact comes out of some deeper recess of the artist you think you know so well only to slap you in the face.

Both this and There's Always Tomorrow are surely the najor missing Sirks on the DVD radar.

David Ehrenstein
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#6 Post by David Ehrenstein » Wed Oct 10, 2007 11:28 pm

"Patricia Knight as the Hamiltonian babe is a revelation "
I trust you're referring to the series of paintings Richard Hamilton made based on a still of Knight in Shockproof.

She was one of those really interesting post-war actresses who, sadly, had a brief career. There's an episode of I Love Lucy in which she's featured as an actress rehearsing a part in an apartment flat next to Lucy's. Overhearing her rehearse dialogue, Lucy assumes she's a spy, "and that's where the fun REALLY starts."

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david hare
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#7 Post by david hare » Wed Oct 10, 2007 11:53 pm

Yes, I've salivated over the Hamilton paintings for decades in anticipation of finally seeing the Sirk.

They perfectly capture the unsettling combination of power and fear Knight displays in the movie, under Sirk's direction. (Hamilton also seems to be a painter who really understands what Sirk's doing with light and space and darkness. )

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