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Douglas Sirk

Saturday, June 28, 2003
7:00 a.m. SHOCKPROOF
Douglas Sirk (U.S., 1949)

Douglas Sirk's stylish and always intelligent direction saved the day despite a studio rewrite for this B film noir based on a Samuel Fuller script. Cornel Wilde, a parole officer on the take, is lured into marriage with a paroled murderess (Patricia Knight) and then flees with her when she shoots her ex in a brawl. Sirk has noted the unexpectedly fine performance by Knight, who "kind of understood what I was after—the sparse freedom of human existence." But neither Sirk nor Fuller was well served by the cop-out ending (Fuller attempted to remove his name), and both have given rueful, enticing accounts of the film that got away. In the original conception (titled "The Lovers"), Fuller recalled, "the lovers run away but they don't realize that for the greater part of the film, no one is in fact chasing them. They're overcome with panic, fear, and hate, out of which comes extreme violence, although no one is pursuing them."

• Written by Helen Deutsch, Samuel Fuller. Photographed by Charles Lawton. With Cornel Wilde, Patricia Knight, John Baragrey, Esther Minciotti. (79 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Sony Pictures Releasing)