Directed by Douglas Sirk
Sam Fuller’s stories are known for their interesting story hooks that immediately take hold of you and demand your rapt attention, usually defying what you generally expect a movie to be about. Shockproof is no different, and while I’m sure the finished film was diluted from his original draft, it still bears much of Fuller’s known style. The dialogue sparkles with his wit, and the premise is as “Sam Fuller” as any premise ever was; there’s even a character named Griff! The dilution does come with a price, though, as the ending is far too contrived and happy for the story that came before it. It’s not quite as bad as “…And it was all a dream,” but it’s definitely cut from a similar cloth.
Shockproof opens on Hollywood Blvd. A beautiful woman in black walks into a shop and purchases a new set of clothes. She also bleaches her hair blonde and soon emerges ravishing and ready to take on the world. We follow her into an office building, where she’s told by a secretary that the man she’s here to see is just behind the next door. Surely this is the beginning of a nice little film where the girl gets a quiet bookkeeping job for an executive and falls madly in love, right?
This is admittedly a pretty interesting setup for what is ultimately a simple love-triangle film, but where it falters is that the characters are much too shallow. Jenny’s clearly torn by her feelings about the two men in her life, but her decisions often seem as a result of the story’s necessity instead of anything believable. Concurrently with that, Griff’s action are often just as ridiculous, asking us to believe that the power of love (or perhaps obsession) is so strong that it changes someone down to the core of their being. The things that people will do for love are definitely many and varied, but Griff and Jenny are merely vague representations of this instead of fully realized depictions. Shockproof is a B-picture, so I shouldn’t be too harsh, but it was rather hard to roll with some of the character choices.
As I mentioned before, the ending is complete malarkey, but it is known that it was not the original ending intended by both Fuller and Sirk. Apparently, it was to be a heartbreaking ending of one man trying to fight the system, losing the one he loves in the process. Just like these days (or perhaps more so), that kind of ending just doesn’t fly in a studio picture, so we’re left with the sappy, all-tied-up ending we got. Oh well.
If you don’t think too hard about it and just have a good time, Shockproof is fun film to fill a weekend afternoon with. Even more so if you enjoy the work of Sam Fuller and Douglas Sirk.