Shock Corridor (1963)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Mystery  |  11 September 1963 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 7,419 users  
Reviews: 58 user | 56 critic

Bent on winning a Pulitzer Prize, a journalist commits himself to a mental institution to solve a strange and unclear murder.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Evans ...
Hari Rhodes ...
Larry Tucker ...
Paul Dubov ...
Chuck Roberson ...
Neyle Morrow ...
John Matthews ...
Bill Zuckert ...
'Swanee' Swanson
John Craig ...
Philip Ahn ...
Dr. Fong
Frank Gerstle ...
Lt. Kane
Rachel Romen ...
Singing nympho


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 ... Written by David Levene <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Medical Jungle Doctors Don't Talk About!


Drama | Mystery


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 September 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Straightjacket  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Ryder Sound Services)


| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The hallucination sequences include footage shot on location in Japan for House of Bamboo (1955), and footage shot by Samuel Fuller in Mato Grosso, Brazil for the unfinished film Tigrero (see Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made (1994).) See more »


During the fight scene in the kitchen, a bent table leg is abruptly straight and the pots and pans on the stove in the background change. See more »


Cathy: Do you think I like singing in that sewer with a hot light on my navel? I'm doing it because it pays more than shorthand or clerking or typing.
See more »


Referenced in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Cuckoo's Nest: Class of 63'- by Samuel Fuller
17 January 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Shock Corridor is like and not like other movies about the patients of a 'cuckoo's nest'. There's nothing the audience is going to necessarily learn about mental illness or about why the murder journalist Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) is investigating is so crucial for him to commit himself into an asylum (or "mental home" as one orderly puts it). That's not exactly what Samuel Fuller- well-known B-film writer/director is out for. What he does come away with is an exploitation film that finds itself as being, well, remarkable. Somehow, the material finds itself as inspired for practically all the way.

As Barrett learns who the patients are, such as Larry Tucker playing Pagliacci (the big guy with a song sometimes in his head and mouth), James Best as Stuart (an ex-soldier who thinks he fought in the confederacy), and Hari Rhodes playing Trent (a black guy who takes himself seriously enough to, oddly, get heard out by the rest of the inmates at times). This, plus the cold orderlies and doctors, the nymphs, and just about all the others in the place, begin to wear Barrett's mental capacity down as he gets closer and closer.

For the players involved here, it's a character actors' feast- for a B-film every performance comes off as being believable, so much so that each performance has a level that's startling, immediate, and immensely theatrical. If one was to just watch the theatrical trailer without seeing the film one might come away with a different impression about how it turns out. Fuller's script is loaded with moments, grand and minute, of satire and the bizarre, and it fits. His direction as well creates an atmosphere that changes as much as some of the patient's mind-sets: scenes go from being rather funny (drop-dead a couple of times) to chilling and ridiculous to observant, not to mention surreal (i.e. the scenes in color, plus some of Barnett's inner monologue) and musical.

Though the film does have minor liabilities, to be expected, such as a less than great ending (expectable for the genre), and some flaws in the editing. But that shouldn't deter viewers who may want to get into the career of Samuel Fuller and aren't too sure where to start. Overall, Shock Corridor is a high quality, value exploitation flick that leaves a heavy impact on repeat viewings. A+

10 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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