Shockproof

Shockproof ★★½

A romantic noir of lovers from opposite sides of the law struggling to make it work, starring Cornel Wilde, and directed by Douglas Sirk with a script by Sam Fuller (Wilde's character's name is 'Griff' of course)--why isn't this thing more widely known, thought I, when I sat down to watch it?

Well, the answer comes about 3/4s of the way through the film, sadly, after Wilde and (a terrific) Patricia Knight go on the run, as Sirk apparently signed on because he liked Fuller's script, downbeat ending and all, of a Parole Officer who gives up his position in society for the love of a woman ex-con and then goes out in act of violence against the society that pushed them to the margins and kept them there. However, when the film went into production, the studio apparently got cold feet at the ending, and brought in script doctors for a rewrite, and something more upbeat where ...it all worked out for those two crazy kids in love, natch, leaving the last twenty minutes of film feeling like a balloon that's slowly deflating on its way to a happy ending that seems to miss the point that the preceding film had been pointed inerrantly towards.

That being said, Wilde and Knight do a great job, and it's a legitimate pleasure to see them bouncing Fuller's hard-boiled dialogue back and forth, while captured luxuriantly with Sirk's crisp cinematography (yes, there are LOTS of mirrors here, and a suicide scene early on that's both a breathtaking shot and legitimately jarring/upsetting)--so while the film feels more like a missed opportunity than anything else, it's still worth watching as an example of craft.

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