Shockproof (1949, Douglas Sirk)

“Stop being melodramatic” – Harry Wesson to Jenny Marsh… in a Douglas Sirk movie!

Did I even have to be told that Samuel Fuller wrote this, when the lead character is named Griff?

Jenny Marsh (Patricia Knight, Cornell Wilde’s wife of 14 years, career fell apart after their divorce soon after this movie came out) is a bad girl just out of jail. She went there covering for her boyfriend Harry Wesson (John Baragrey, appealingly slimy, pretty much a TV actor except for this movie). Gets out and meets parole officer Griff Marat (Cornell Wilde, kinda big star in the 40’s). Trouble ensues.

To keep an eye on the girl, Griff naively hires her to live/work at his house and care for his blind mother. She still visits Wesson on the side and schemes to fake falling in love with Griff to corrupt him and ease her situation. But of course they really fall in love, and she shoots Wesson in a struggle. She’s back in trouble, and Griff will be in trouble if he’s found out for marrying a parolee, so they escape to an oil town to start a new life (leaving behind blind mom and super-irritating younger brother). “But the strain of poverty and fear of apprehension begin to corrode” and they turn themselves in. In a suspiciously happy twist ending, a recovering Harry Wesson lets them both off the hook and they live happily etc.

Tight little 80-minute noir drama. I don’t know much about Sirk, but the Fuller element is there in traces. Fuller’s own debut, I Shot Jesse James, came out the same year.

IMDB reviewer points out: “The title, by the way, seems basically meaningless but to have been chosen for its purely abstract, noirish resonance.”