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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Hollywood Star Time, "Shock" starring Vincent Price

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Hollywood Star Time (1946-47) aired its radio adaptation of the just released 1946 b&w film Shock on February 3, 1946. HST attempted to emulate the success of Lux Radio Theater, which made one hour adaptations of recent films and starred the films' stars in its adaptations. It was hugely popular. Hollywood Star Time, as with Lux Radio Theater, was well produced, starred the film actors reprising their roles for radio, was well written and had excellent musical scores. That said, with only half hour episodes and stiff competition from Lux it soon faded and was cancelled after only a year.

Shock premiered on January 10, 1946 with its general film release date coming on February 1, 1946, which makes its live radio adaptation on February 3rd starring Vincent Price (1911-1993) a timely advertisement for the film. A true film noir thriller, taught with suspense, Price plays the role of renowned psychiatrist Dr. Richard Cross. Staying in his downtown hotel suite with his wife, Price asks for a divorce (he is in love with the head nurse who helps him run his countryside sanitorium) and she rebels, threatening to expose his infidelity to the media, thus besmirching his reputation. In a momentary fit he bashes in her skull with a candlestick, said moment of passion inadvertantly witnessed by the young wife in an adjoining suite, waiting for her military husband to return from a POW camp following the war. When the soldier husband arrives the next morning he finds his wife sitting wide-eyed and catatonic on the sofa. The murder she has witnessed has driven this sensitive young woman over the edge. A psychiatrist is called in to evaluate her condition...and guess who that is. Right, Vincent Price as the good doctor Richard Cross.

Removed to Dr. Cross' pastoral sanitorium for extended therapy, the wife--after being pumped with supposedly therapeutic drugs to bring her out of her catatonia--periodically becomes lucid enough to relive the night of the murder, thus tipping Price off that she was a witness to his crime and must now be dealt with. Enter the femme fatale, nurse Elaine Jordan, who comes up with a devilish and cold-hearted solution. Will Price/Cross be swayed by the hard-hearted, calculating woman he loves, or is there some remnant of morality yet beating within his guilt-ridden chest? After all, if she recovers and reveals Cross as a murderer then he is done for. What will he do?

Shock, the film, ran to but 69 minutes as an adequate (yet fairly well received by some critics) B film, so this 30 minute adaptation is, with minor exception, as faithful to the film as possible given the restraints and requirements of radio. The script, acting, and musicial score are all superb here, as Vincent Price and Lynn Bari turn in driven performances--and all in front of a live audience. For Vincent Price or film-noir fans wishing to see the film, it is online here. It's not the best print but is eminently watchable.

Play Time: 30:01