Shockproof - 1949 - 5/10
The doll steps onto Hollywood Boulevard, pavement of dreams and broken promises.
Like a pampered feline, she glides into glittering boutiques and coolly purchases French perfume and flashy dresses of green satin and red silk.
Then she slinks down in the cramped office, bright from the blinding Los Angeles haze outside, the room sliced with shadows from window louvers that keep out neither the sun nor the heat
The man behind the desk is the boy scout, the square shooter, the honorable man.
Her parole officer.
Jenny crosses those long legs, flashes the smile that had ruined other men, even answers the hard questions, including -
“Yeah, I murdered him. But I’m paroled now.”
The cop is more cynical than yesterdays rubbish. He’s heard the lies before, all of 'em. Criminals never change, they merely learn new hustles.
Something about this one, this Jenny, is different, he thinks. Could be her dress, open at the neck, or the French scent, rising from the vale of desire. Could be her legs, tanned and smooth. Or it could be the hair, that flowing blonde hair.
Only the blonde came poured from a bottle, her yellow is fools gold. Flashy, but cheap, not real. Just like Jenny.
He ought to know better, our parole officer. Yet he sits transfixed by the hair, the legs, and the fragrance of perfume and warm skin. He breathes it in. Unaware, he climbs the gallows of temptation, before taking a swan dive into the troubled waters of love.
Shockproof is a Paramount crime drama, not nearly as pulpy as my opening synopsis.
Most of it moves slow and stiff, bordering on melodrama, with a Noir dash near the end.
Sam Fuller wrote the tawdry script, but Hollywood altered his ending.
An early Douglas Sirk film, replete with luxurious wardrobes, superb use of lighting, and masterful set design, including the haunting Bradbury Building (Blade Runner and “Demon with a Glass Hand”).
The story itself? Eh.
The two leads have the chemistry of a pair of water-logged two by fours.
Surprising, because in real life Cornel Wilde and Patricia Knight were a married couple.
Time waster, though Sirk enthusiasts will find plenty to admire.