Shockproof (1949) starring Cornel Wilde, Patricia Knight, John Baragrey, Esther Minciotti directed by Douglas Sirk Movie Review

Shockproof (1949)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Cornel Wilde in Shockproof (1949)

Nurture Not Nature

Griff Marat (Cornel Wilde) is a dedicated parole officer which is how he comes to meet Jenny Marsh (Patricia Knight) who has just been released on life parole having killed a man defending her less than savoury lover Harry Wesson (John Baragrey). Despite clashing Griff is determined to help Jenny go straight even if that means finding work for her in his own home assisting his blind mother Mrs. Marat (Esther Minciotti). Despite meaning breaking her parole Jenny and Harry continue to see each other in secret that is until Jenny and Griff become close and things take a dangerous turn.

I've mentioned before that I don't go wild for film-noir especially as I feel the term has become too generic to become a catch all for all black & white crime dramas. But once in a while I come across one of these movies which work on a pure entertainment level which is certainly the case of "Shockproof". Here is a simple storyline is full of nice cinematic touches which don't dominate the movie they just help to create the right look and a more than typical melodramatic story which you expect from director Douglas Sirk.

Patricia Knight in Shockproof (1949)

Now if you want to look elsewhere on the net you will find plenty of reviews which tell you in detail what happens on "Shockproof". I won't but what I will say in a typical Douglas Sirk way "Shockproof" has a romantic melodrama side as Griff ends up falling for Jenny who he isn't convinced is the bad girl that everyone believes but knows will be hard to prove otherwise. This unravels in an entertaining manner as first we see the frostiness between Griff and Jenny dissolve then the complexity of their situation become an issue as what they have violates their parole and in turn causes issues with her old flame Harry which in turn brings with it another complication.

What makes "Shockproof" work so well for those who couldn't care that it hits various film-noir marks are the engaging performances from Cornel Wilde and Patricia Knight. Their characters may not have the most depth but the way their faces light up thanks to the smallest of moments makes their characters charming and for me makes "Shockproof" closer to a Douglas Sirk romantic melodrama than a film-noir.

What this all boils down to is that "Shockproof" probably does work for those who come it looking for some film-noir entertainment. But for me the Douglas Sirk touch is clear to see and it pushes this more towards one of his entertaining romantic melodramas. Plus with sweet performances from Cornel Wilde and Patricia Knight it is engaging in a simple and beautiful way.