Wow. I think this will probably be the earliest Vincent Price movie that I can recall seeing. So this movie is in the Legends of Horror box set and, with Vincent Price starring in it, I figure it is probably well deserved to be in there. However, I already owned this movie, as it is also in the Chilling Classics box set, which has me a little worried because the movies in that set are not always fun to watch. So let’s see if this movie is enjoyable, or a headache, as I watch today’s movie, Shock (1946).
The plot: Janet Stewart arrives at the Belmont Arm’s hotel in San Francisco and goes to check in, only to find that they never received the wire confirming her reservation. She starts to get upset, as she was supposed to be meeting her husband Lt. Paul, who was returning home after being a P.O.W. for 2 years, at the hotel and the manager lets her have the room of a guest who hasn’t checked in yet, saying she must leave by noon. After waking from a nightmare, Janet calls down to the front desk to see if her husband has arrived yet and after hearing that he hasn’t, she heads out onto the balcony. While she is out there, she hears arguing coming from the room next to her and sees a couple arguing and as things start to get heated, the man strikes the woman with a candlestick and kills her. As the man closes the curtains, Janet, overwhelmed by her own emotions and what she had witnessed, falls into a state of shock as she slowly backs into her room and sits on the couch. The next morning, Paul arrives at the hotel and heads up to the room to surprise Janet, only to see her still sitting frozen on the couch. After calling out to her and getting no response, Paul calls for a doctor, who tells him she is in shock but he can’t do much for her. The doctor tells him that there is a psychiatrist at the hotel, Dr. Cross, that is staying at the hotel who would be able to do a better job of helping her and he calls him to see if he can come over. When Dr. Cross arrives, he examines Janet then asks Paul where he found her and when he thinks she might have fallen into this state. Hearing the time frame for when she possibly fell into shock, Cross realizes that Janet could have seen him kill his wife so he tells them that he will have her transferred to his facility outside of town and the hotel doctor tells Paul to trust Cross’ judgement on this. Cross arranges for his assistant/burse, Elaine Jordan to come pick up Janet and take her to his facility so she can have round the clock care. When they get there, Janet is placed in her room and when Cross gets a moment alone with her, he attempts to talk with her while she is in a trance like state and learns that she did see him murder his wife. When Elaine enters the room, it is revealed that they are lovers as he tells Elaine that she saw him kill his wife. Later that night, Elaine goes to see Cross and he is angry at himself for losing control and killing his wife and angrier still that he did not call the police and explain it was an accident instead of attempting to cover it up and hiding the body. Elaine tries to console him and says they should try to ensure that they should try and make it so Janet doesn’t recover. The next day, Paul comes to visit Janet and is upset that there appears to be no change in her demeanor. He suggest having a friend, Dr. Harvey, come in for a second opinion and Cross agrees to it. When she hears about it, Elaine is upset but Cross explains he couldn’t refuse as it would look suspicious. Cross then heads into Janet’s room and begins yelling at her, attempting to make it seem like she is crazy and suffering a breakdown if she ever comes out of shock. When Dr. Harvey arrives, he examines Janet and feels like there is more to her state of shock than just her emotions over Paul’s return, as Cross has first theorized, but he can’t say what could have been the cause. That night there is a massive thunder storm, which causes one of the patients, Mr. Edwards, to freak out and escape from his room. As he wanders the hallway, some nurse start walking towards him and he quickly ducks into Janet’s room. As the storm continues, he sees Janet and approaches her but Elaine enters the room and sees him. As Mr. Edwards struggles with Elaine, Janet wakes up and witnesses them just as Cross enters and helps calm Mr. Edwards down and take him back to his room. The next day, Cross is recording his notes when Paul enters and tells him he wants to transfer Janet to a hospital in San Francisco but Cross convinces him to let her stay there. As Paul leaves, one of the nurses brings Cross a newspaper, which reports that his wife was found dead from falling off a mountain. Later, Elaine tells Cross that Janet had woken up while she struggled with Mr. Edwards and Cross worries that it will undo the work he had done but Elaine says that instead it will only make her seem more insane. Meanwhile, Paul goes to Janet’s room to see her and she wakes up and recognizes him. When Cross and Elaine enter the room, Janet freaks out upon seeing Cross and while Elaine tries to comfort her, Cross has Paul leave the room with him and tries to explain that Janet appears to be suffering from some form of delusion. When Janet tries to leave her room and begs one of the doctors to call the police, nobody believes her and Elaine says that it is proof that their plan is working. Cross goes to see Janet and speaks with her, then shows her the newspaper article about his wife’s death, attempting to convince her that she has been a patient for weeks and is crazy. The next day, District Attorney O’Neil pays a visit to Cross and tells him they are re-examining his wife’s death and asks permission to exhume her body for a thorough autopsy. Cross reluctantly agrees to do it and later, he tells Elaine what is going on. Cross doesn’t know if he can keep covering up the murder and Elaine tries to comfort him and offers a suggesting of killing Janet in order to hide the truth. Later that night, O’Neil comes to Cross’ house and informs him that the autopsy concluded that his wife was murdered and the weapon was a candlestick. O’Neil asks for permission to search the house to see if the murder weapon is there, then asks when the last time he saw her alive was, as he is trying to determine a time of death. After he leaves, Cross considers everything that is happening and decides to go through with Elaine’s plan. He tells Paul that he is going to give Janet an injection of insulin to try and shock her system in an attempt to cure her delusions but in reality, he is hoping it will kill her. As the treatments continue, Paul goes to see Dr. Harvey and tells him that his wife continues to say that Cross killed his wife with a candlestick. After hearing Paul say that Cross was at the same hotel when Janet first went into shock, Dr. Harvey starts to realize she may have been telling the truth and contacts O’Neil, then heads to Cross’s office with Paul. At the facility, Elaine is administering the final dose of insulin in order to kill Janet but Cross has a change of heart and refuses to let her die, then strangles Elaine when she continues to try and kill Janet. Dr. Harvey and Paul arrive and Dr. Harvey gives Janet some adrenaline to save her life. As Paul goes to Janet’s side, Cross leaves the room and heads to his office, where O’Neil eventually shows up to arrest him for his wife and Elaine’s murder.
This wasn’t quite what I expected but it was a decent little thriller. The acting was good, with Vincent Price (Cross) being his usual stoic self while Lynn Bari (Elaine) and Anabel Shaw (Janet) both doing equally good in their roles. The story was pretty good and honestly felt a little Hitchcockian to me. The only problem I had with it is that the slow pacing of the movie made it feel a lot longer than it really was and just seemed to drag some scenes out for too long. There weren’t any special effects in the movie and the drama used to move the story along was good, but again it fell victim to the slow pacing in the movie. It might not be to everyone’s liking but it is worth giving a shot.
Rating: 3 out of 5