College boy Paul Cartwright (Jimmy Lydon, sounding exactly like his radio character Henry Aldrich), is the son of a famous criminologist, deceased under dubious circumstances, in Strange Illusion (1945).
Paul has a doomful dream that he believes is predicting the future. When elements of the dream begin to appear in his family's life, he begins really to worry, & starts looking for credible clues so that people will believe him.
In the course of the story he will prove himself right, that his father was murdered because he was closing in on a notorious psychopathic con man who preys upon lonely widows, & that the same murderer is now courting his widowed mother (Sally Eilers).
The killer's co-conspirator, a psychiatrist (Regis Toomey) who runs an asylum, manages to get Paul locked up in his nuthouse, with every intent to kill him.
From a famous B director, Edward Ulmer, he always did the most with the little hew as given to work with. For Strange Illusion there's a surprisingly full look to this cheapy shot in fifteen days.
Intimations of the supernatural in dream-prediction is in reality a study in psychology & how the subconscious informs the conscious through dreams, a plot gimmick also liked by Hitchcock.
The acting is not the best & the lead in particular is poorly cast (too jaunty a "juvenile" specialist to be convincing in a context of danger), & the night photography isn't the shadowy film noir sort that makes old crime films physically beautiful.
But it's passable entertainment. There's plenty of suspense & a truly oily chief villain (Warren William), besides a story with interesting twists.
In the San Francisco noir Shock (1946), a worried woman (Anabel Shaw) checks into a hotel, where her husband is to meet her the next day. Asleep in her room, she has a surreal nightmare of loss & separation. She's apparently in a very fragile frame of mind.
Peering from her window, she sees a man (Vincent Price) & wife (Ruth Clifford) arguing about divorce, the husband having acquired a mistress. When the wife emptily threatens to kill him, he loses his temper & cudgels her to death.
Janet's husband, Lt. Paul Stewart (Frank Latimore), arrives the next morning & finds his wife in a catatonic trance. He calls for the assistance of one Dr. Richard Cross, a psychiatrist, to treat her. But as it happens, he's the killer!
She's taken to Dr. Cross's private asylum, where he & nurse Elaine (Lynn Bari) conspire to cover up the murder & keep Janet ill. Cross uses hypnosis & drugs to submerge Janet's memories.
The plot is so obvious & the performances so perfunctory that Shock is in the main rather dull.
It tries to be a tough thriller, as when the asylum's most dangerous patient, Edwards (John Davidson), gets out of his room & attacks Elaine in Janet's room, another vision of violence for her troubled mind.
[SPOILER ALERT!] Janet's cop husband is beginning to catch on that things are not right at the asylum, & she's recovering from her mental trauma despite the lack of helpful care. Her terrible caretakers, finding themselves backed into a corner, decide to kill the witness by use of insulin to induce heart failure.
The most simpleminded ironic ending would have been to have Dr. Cross stark raving insane by the end, so I really hoped they'd come up with something more original. And they did, not that it was an improvement.
When Cross decides he can't kill Janet after all, Elaine goes ballistic that at this late hour he'd decide to save her. She becomes so maniacal that Cross strangles her, gets arrested, & that's that. [END SPOILER ALERT]
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl