AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Director: Alfred Werker (Dir)
Release Date:   Feb 1946
Production Date:   26 Sep--27 Oct 1945
Duration (in mins):   71
Duration (in feet):   6,350
Duration (in reels):   8
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Vincent Price (Dr. Richard Cross)  
    Lynn Bari (Elaine Jordan)  
    Frank Latimore (Lt. Paul Stewart)  
    Anabel Shaw (Janet Stewart)  
    Michael Dunne (Dr. Stevens)  
    Reed Hadley (O'Neil)  
    Renee Carson (Mrs. Hatfield)  
    Charles Trowbridge (Dr. Franklyn Harvey)  
    John Davidson (Mr. Edwards)  
    Selmer Jackson (Dr. Blair)  
    Pierre Watkin (Hotel manager)  
    Mary Young (Miss Penny)  
    Margaret Brayton (Nurse)  
    Bob Adler (Nurse)  
    Claire Richards (Nurse)  
    George E. Stone (Cab driver)  

Summary: Janet Stewart arrives at the Belmont Arms Hotel in San Francisco to await her husband Paul, a returning prisoner of war who has been assumed dead for the last two years. While waiting for him, Janet dreams that she cannot find Paul in the corridors of a strange building. Later, being unable to sleep any more, she goes to her balcony window, where she sees a couple arguing in an adjacent suite. After the woman accuses the man of having an affair, the man hits the woman with a candlestick, sending Janet into shock. The next morning, Paul arrives to find Janet in a catatonic state, unable to recognize him. Paul summons Dr. Blair, who says that Janet is apparently in shock and recommends that she see a psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Cross, who happens to live in the hotel. When Cross, who turns out to be the murderer, arrives, he realizes that Janet may have seen or heard something that could incriminate him, and offers to treat her in his private sanitorium outside San Francisco. Elaine Jordan, Cross's head nurse and lover, comes to escort Janet, and Cross soon discovers that Janet remembers everything, although she is only semi-conscious. Cross removes his wife's body from the hotel in a trunk, then ships the trunk to his lodge in Carmel. It is obvious to Cross that Janet's shock will eventually wear off, but Elaine suggests that it can only happen if he allows it to. Paul visits Janet but she is under sedation and does not respond to him. Seeking a second opinion on her condition, Paul consults Dr. Franklyn Harvey, a former teacher of Cross, who has been recommended by the army doctors. Meanwhile, Cross induces more trauma in Janet by hypnotic suggestion. After examining Janet, Dr. Harvey concludes that her problem was not just caused by worry about her husband's late arrival but by something else. Later, Cross leaves the sanitorium to deal with his wife's body in Carmel. While he is away, a thunderstorm causes panic in one of the patients, Mr. Edwards, who gets out of his room and enters Janet's. As she attempts to subdue Edwards, Elaine is attacked by him while Janet watches, but young Dr. Stevens comes to Elaine's rescue. Later, Janet tells Paul that she has witnessed a murder, but he thinks her condition is worsening. Elaine, meanwhile, shows Dr. Stevens a newspaper report that Cross's wife has been found dead, the victim of an apparent fall from a cliff at Point Lobos. While Janet is talking with Paul, remembering the night in the hotel, Cross enters, and she tells Paul that Cross is a murderer. To deflect suspicion, Cross tells Paul that Janet is delusional and then to fortify his point, introduces Paul to a Miss Penny who is truly delusional. Using the newspaper report, Cross tries to prove to Janet that his wife could not have died in San Francisco and that Janet is losing her mind. Later, the Monterey district attorney, O'Neil, comes to see Cross and reveals that he wants to exhume Mrs. Cross's body as he now thinks she may have been the victim of a prowler who clubbed a neighbor into unconsciousness. Panicked, Cross considers giving Janet insulin shock treatment with a program of four injections, the last of which would be a fatal overdose. Although Elaine tries to seduce him into carrying out his plan, he decides he cannot do it. The coroner's inquest finds microscopic particles of silver and wax in Mrs. Cross's wound and determines that she was struck by a silver candlestick. After securing Paul's permission, Cross now decides to proceed with the insulin shock treatment. Worried because Janet is still insisting that Cross has killed his wife with a candlestick, Paul shows Harvey a newspaper report that the murder weapon, a candlestick, has been found. Fearing for Janet's safety, they both rush to the sanitorium. Cross has administered the overdose but at the last moment tries to save Janet by injecting dextrose. When Elaine tries to stop him, he strangles her. Harvey administers adrenalin to Janet who regains consciousness and recognizes Paul as her husband. While O'Neil waits, Cross dictates a report on his most recent case, and then is taken away by the district attorney. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Alfred Werker (Dir)
  Eli Dunn (Asst dir)
Producer: Aubrey Schenck (Prod)
Writer: Eugene Ling (Scr)
  Albert DeMond (Based on a story by)
  Martin Berkeley (Addl dial)
Photography: Glen MacWilliams (Dir of photog)
  Joe MacDonald (Dir of photog)
  Irving Rosenberg (Cam op)
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler (Art dir)
  Boris Leven (Art dir)
Film Editor: Harmon Jones (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
  O. Clement Halverson (Assoc)
Costumes: Kay Nelson (Cost)
Music: David Buttolph (Mus)
  Emil Newman (Mus dir)
  Arthur Morton (Orch arr)
Sound: Alfred Bruzlin (Sd)
  Harry M. Leonard (Sd)
  Paul Neal (Mus mixer)
  Murray Spivack (Mus mixer)
Special Effects: Fred Sersen (Spec photog eff)
  Sol Halprin (Transparencies)
  Edwin Hammeras (Transparencies)
  J. O. Taylor (Transparencies)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Dr. Edna Brophy (Tech adv)
  Frances C. Richardson (Research dir)
  Maude Clague (Research asst)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 24/1/1946 dd/mm/yyyy LP154

PCA NO: 11285
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

Genre: Mystery
Sub-Genre: Psychological
Subjects (Major): Insulin shock
  Medical ethics
  Prisoners of war
Subjects (Minor): Candlesticks
  District attorneys
  Mental illness
  San Francisco (CA)
  World War II

Note: Although HR production charts place Roy Roberts in the cast, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The role of "Mrs. Cross" may have been played by Ruth Nelson, according to an undated studio press release. Actress Anabel Shaw had previously been known as Marjorie Henshaw. An adaptation of the film was broadcast on The Frigidaire Radio Show on 3 Feb 1946.
       When Shock opened in New York in early Mar 1946, it generated a considerable amount of controversy because of its depiction of insulin shock therapy. In a special feature article, NYT film critic Bosley Crowther condemned the film's irresponsible treatment of psycho-therapy: "...there are thousands of veterans whose experiences during the war have rendered them more or less needful of psycho-therapy....Confidence in the doctor is of vital importance...a film such as Shock breeds just the opposite in distraught, suspicious minds." The medical profession also protested. In a letter to MPAA president Eric Johnston, which is included in the files of the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the president of the American Psychiatric Association stated that the executive committee of the APA was of the opinion that Shock was "an unsuitable and undesirable picture to be shown to the general public and that it will do a good deal of harm." Similar protests were received from the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry and the New York Academy of Medicine. Censor Boards in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, deleted all references to insulin shock treatment from the film's prints. Dr. Manfred Sakel, the Viennese discoverer of this form of treatment, saw the film and termed it "stupidly done and terribly damaging to psychiatry." 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   19 Jan 1946.   
Daily Variety   16 Jan 46   p. 3.
Film Daily   16 Jan 46   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Sep 45   p. 25.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Oct 45   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jan 46   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Mar 46   p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   15 Dec 45   p. 2764.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   19 Jan 46   p. 2805.
New York Times   9 Mar 46   p. 10.
New York Times   17 Mar 1946.   
New York Times   24 Mar 1946.   
Variety   16 Jan 46   p. 18.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.