I recently learned that Beach Dickerson passed away on 7 Dec, 2005. This review is dedicated with deepest respect to his memory.
You know you're watching a low budget movie when the ubiquitous Bronson Canyon stands in for Northern Italy during WW2. Johnny (Carl Crow) is a new guy in the combat unit of tough guy sergeant Rance (Beach Dickerson). Rance has been busted 3 times and it's beginning to look like he'll never get his stripes back. This has made him mad at the world and he rides the soldiers under him without letting up. While trying to take a machine gun nest Johnny freaks out big time and has a mental breakdown. Rance thinks he's faking it just to get some R & R in a nice quiet hospital so he lets Johnny "escape" just for the fun of hunting him down and (maybe) shooting him for desertion. So is Johnny headed for a psycho ward? Is Rance going to gun him down? Has anyone remembered that there's a war going on and the real enemies are the German soldiers who are out there someplace? Is this movie ever going to end?
You wouldn't think a low budget war movie would have an undercurrent but SHELL SHOCK has a motif of losing and recovering ones own humanity. Without revealing too much Johnny finds a few moments of tenderness with an Italian farm girl (Pamela Grey) and Rance gets back in touch with his sensitive side when he meets and Italian-American expatriate (Delores Faith, who deserved way better parts than she got in her short career) who offers him a slow dance and a hamburger.
Okay so some of the people in this picture couldn't act their way out of an empty room; most of this movie is fun and many of the characters are very believable. I enjoyed watching this and I think many of you will too.
We miss you Beach, thanks for everything.
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