Dr. Cross, a psychiatrist, is treating a young woman, Janet Stewart, who is in a coma-state, brought on when she heard loud arguing, went to her window and saw a man strike his wife with a candlestick and kill her. As she comes out of her shock, she recognizes Dr. Cross as the killer. He takes her to his sanitarium and urged by his nurse/lover, Elaine Jordan, gives Janet an overdose of insulin. But he can't bring himself to murder her in cold blood and asks Elaine to get the medicine to save her. She refuses, they argue, and he strangles her. He saves Janet's life, but now faces two murder charges. Written by
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Lt. Paul Stewart:
Well, if you give Janet this insulin, how certain can you be it'll help her?
Dr. Richard Cross:
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.
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While Janet Stewart (Anabel Shaw) is waiting for her husband, Paul (Frank Latimore), whom she hasn't seen in over two years (he's been at war and at one point was thought to be dead), to meet her at a hotel, she witnesses an argument and then a murder in another room. She goes into shock, and is taken to a mental hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, Richard Cross (Vincent Price), the doctor treating her, is the same man she witnessed committing murder.
Although somewhat of a potboiler and a bit short on running time per today's standards, Shock is a tightly scripted, directed and acted thriller. As usual, Price is at the top of his game here, and any Price fans who haven't seen this film yet will want to check it out. The rest of the cast is also fantastic, and Shaw particularly stands out when she's on screen (which is not as often as we might like, but given the story, a necessity). Suspense is maintained throughout the film--even in the minor scenes. There was even a fair amount of tension in the opening when Janet Stewart is first checking into the hotel.
My score is 9 out of 10. I only subtracted one point for the ending, which came too soon and a bit too abruptly for my tastes. However, given typical studio restrictions during this era, when it was mandatory that the "bad guys" get their just deserts, the ending is also admirable for its relative ambiguity. It is almost similar in style to Stanley Kubrick's lauded ending of The Killing (1956), which also tried its best to circumvent the just deserts conclusions, though Shock predates the Kubrick film by 10 years.
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