Shock Corridor

Synopsis: Johnny Barrett, an ambitious journalist, is determined to win a Pulitzer Prize by solving a murder committed in a lunatic asylum and witnessed only by three inmates, from whom the police have been unable to extract the information. With the connivance of a psychiatrist, and the reluctant help of his girlfriend, he succeeds in having himself declared insane and sent to the asylum. There he slowly tracks down and interviews the witnesses - but things are stranger than they seem ...
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Director(s): Samuel Fuller
Production: Criterion Collection
  Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins.
Rotten Tomatoes:
101 min

My name is Johnny Barrett.

I'm a reporter on the Daiy Globe.

This is my story...

as far as it went.

When was the first time

you got this urge, Mr. Barrett?

- There must have been a first time.

- When I was 14.

And when I was much younger -


that's when I got the feeling.

What gave it to you?

Her braids.

Tell me about her braids.

- I got excited.

- Go on.

I grabbed her braids.

Is that when you hurt her?

I never hurt her.

Did you pull on her braids?

I caressed them.

- Just -

- Did you pull on them?

Do you think I'm a fetishist?

Hell, no, Johnny!

- Let them bring up that word - not you.

- Yeah.

You'll be facing

the best psychiatrists in the state.

They'll know when you're shamming.

I feel sorry for Doc Fong.

Professionally he knows

he's playing with dynamite.

But he just couldn't turn down

his closest friend, Swanee.

They were in psychological warfare

back in World War II.

Today, the doc's a topflight head-candler,

and Swanee's my boss...

managing editor of the Daiy Globe.

The role you'll be playing will be stronger

than your strongest imagination...

so don't ever weaken.

It'll be a daily duel between the insane

and your own sane mind.

And as for the doctors there...

lower your mast for an instant

and they'll know you're a phony.

Never let them forget

you're living on a sexual powder keg.

He's all yours, Swanee.

- Think he's ready?

- As he ever will be.

Well -

the next move is yours, Cathy.

Caressing my braids.

Kissing them.

What a disgusting story.

What happens if they find out

I'm not really his sister?

I'll handle that.

Johnny -

Johnny, you've got to be crazy to want to be

committed to an insane asylum to solve a murder.

Even if I don't crack this case, honey,

my experiences alone...

- will make a book, a play or even a movie sale.

- But -

Every man wants to get

to the top of his profession.

- Mine is winning the Pulitzer Prize.

- Johnny -

- If this story doesn't do it, nothing ever will.

- But their sickness is bound to rub off on you.

I said the same thing to you

when you started singing in your skin.

- Remember, Cathy?

- That's different.

But those hookers didn't get to you, did they?

And those lunatics are not gonna get to me.

He's right.

Reporters have impersonated coal miners,

school teachers, hoodlums.

Those reporters went in for a purpose.

Not to win a journalistic halo

on the cover of Life.

And not to win a cash prize and get

their pictures in Time and Newsweek.

Oh, come on, Cathy.

All you have to do is play your part.

I'm fed up.

Fed up playing Greek chorus

to your rehearsed nightmare.

Why don't you smuggle aboard a rocket

and write the memoirs of an astronaut?

- You have any cigarettes, Cathy?

- Why don't you give up this psychoanalytical binge?

Because it's what people buy.

Mark Twain didn't psychoanalyze

Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer.

Dickens didn't put Oliver Twist on the couch

because he was hungry.

- Oh, come on, Cathy.

- Good copy comes out of people, Johnny...

not out of a lot of explanatory medical terms.

Oh, stop it, will you?

You're on a hopped up, show-off stage.

Get off it.

Don't be Moses leading your lunatics

to the Pulitzer Prize.

- Would you care for a cigarette?

- You make me sick!

Sick at the thought of you playing games

with your mind and riding that crazy horse.

He has been conditioned

for a whole year to ride that horse.

You've got to saddle it

and get me off and running, that's all, Cathy.

Scratch me in this race, Johnny.

We made a deal.

My whole instinct is to kick myself hard

for ever having gone into this deal with you.

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Samuel Fuller

Samuel Michael Fuller (August 12, 1912 – October 30, 1997) was an American screenwriter, novelist, and film director known for low-budget, understated genre movies with controversial themes, often made outside the conventional studio system. Fuller wrote his first screenplay for Hats Off in 1936, and made his directorial debut with the Western I Shot Jesse James (1949). He would continue to direct several other Westerns and war thrillers throughout the 1950s. Fuller shifted from Westerns and war thrillers in the 1960s with his low-budget thriller Shock Corridor in 1963, followed by the neo-noir The Naked Kiss (1964). He was inactive in filmmaking for most of the 1970s, before writing and directing the war epic The Big Red One (1980), and the experimental White Dog (1982), whose screenplay he co-wrote with Curtis Hanson. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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