The Shrike (film)

The Shrike is a 1955 American film noir drama film based on Joseph Kramm's play of the same name.[1] José Ferrer directed and starred in Ketti Frings' screenplay adaptation.[2]

The Shrike
The Shrike (film poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJosé Ferrer
Screenplay byKetti Frings
Based onThe Shrike
by Joseph Kramm
Produced byAaron Rosenberg
StarringJosé Ferrer
June Allyson
CinematographyWilliam Daniels, A.S.C.
Edited byFrank Gross, A.C.E.
Music byFrank Skinner
Distributed byUniversal-International
Release date
  • June 16, 1955 (1955-06-16) (United States)
  • July 7, 1955 (1955-07-07) (New York City)
  • September 1, 1955 (1955-09-01) (Los Angeles)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States


Successful stage director Jim Downs (Ferrer) is driven to a mental breakdown by his domineering wife Ann (June Allyson). Institutionalized, he confides in Dr. Bellman (Kendall Clark) and Dr. Barrow (Isabel Bonner), and he finds a kindred spirit in Charlotte Moore (Joy Page).


Uncredited (in order of appearance)


In 1952 Ferrer announced Hal Wallis and Bill Pearlberg were both interested in filming the play.[3]

Ferrer spent two years developing the script with Ketti Frings.[4] For a time it seemed he might make it at RKO.[5] In March 1953 Ferrer announced he had purchased the film rights himself.[6]

He had discussions with Columbia. Then in February 1954 Ferrer signed a deal with Universal to finance.[7][8]

"I'm terribly grateful to have been given the opportunity to star and direct", said Ferrer.[9]

In April 1954 it was announced June Allyson would star alongside Ferrer.[10] Allyson had never played this type of role before.[11] "I was fed to the teeth being sweet", she said.[12]

Filming started in September 1954.[13] Much of the film was shot on location at Bellevue Hospital and around Times Square in New York City.

Ferrer had the film scheduled so the cast would rehearse, then shoot, then filming would stop while the cast would rehearse again, then shoot again. Frings was on set the whole time to assist Ferrer's direction.[4]

The music score was by Frank Skinner. Ferrer composed "Conversation (The Shrike)", recorded by Pete Rugolo on his 1955 album New Sounds (Harmony HL7003).[14] The opening title sequence was created by Saul Bass.


Reviewing for The New York Times, A. H. Weiler wrote:

José Ferrer, the director and star of the play, again is portraying the Broadway director who struggles to be released from the confines of the psychiatric ward even though it means a return to a hateful marriage. And, in making his debut as a film director, Mr. Ferrer proves that he is as expert behind the camera as he is across the footlights. Since he obviously is no stranger to his source material, his performance is at once polished, powerful and moving. And many of his principals, who are re-enacting the roles they created on stage, forcefully enhance the stark vista of life in a mental ward... As our sorely beset hero relates in flashback to probing psychiatrists, it was a happy union at first, full of love and companionship. It deteriorated slowly but inexorably, as did his career, when her insatiable yearning for the life of an actress and her meddling in his affairs reached a point of no return... Backstage and hospital sequences have a documentary authenticity heightened in effect by Mr. Ferrer's portrayal. His scenes in the nightmarish world of the mental ward and his climactic session with the psychiatrists as he tearfully and desperately agrees to return to his wife, is acting of a rare order... Although The Shrike has changed its tune it still is an unusual and immensely interesting film drama.[15]

Allyson later said her husband Dick Powell and all her advisers opposed her making the movie:

But it was a challenge I could not resist. For years I had been the Perfect... And now..., I would be far from the perfect wife. I would indeed be a monster of a wife, one of the least attractive in the history of the theater. As it turned out, the picture was a wonderful flop, but I do not regret deciding to play the vixen, Ann Downs. Other than my personal satisfaction in making my own decision, The Shrike was fun, and I even dreamed vaguely of an Academy Award.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kramm 1998, p. 3.
  2. ^ "The Shrike". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  3. ^ A. H. WEILER. (Feb 3, 1952). "BY WAY OF REPORT: ' Shrike' Strikes Fancy Of Studios -- Addenda". New York Times. p. X5.
  4. ^ a b THOMAS M. PRYOR (Sep 26, 1954). "HOLLYWOOD REPORT: Douglas Fairbanks to Film Biography of Kemal Atatürk -- Other Matters". New York Times. p. X5.
  5. ^ A. H. WEILER. (Nov 2, 1952). "BY WAY OF REPORT: Warner Theatre May Serve as Fox Movie Outlet -- 'The Shrike' Up for Filming". New York Times. p. X5.
  6. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (Mar 13, 1953). "FERRER TO APPEAR IN FILM OF 'SHRIKE': Actor Acquires Rights to Play, Will Produce and Direct -- Ketti Frings to Adapt". New York Times. p. 24.
  7. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (15 Feb 1954). "MISS CRAIN SIGNS CONTRACT AT U.-I.: Five-Year Pact Calls for One Film a Year Starting as Lead in 'Tacey Cromwell'". THE NEW YORK TIMES. p. 20.
  8. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (Feb 23, 1954). "FERRER WILL STAR IN 'SHRIKE' MOVIE: Universal and Actor, Who Also Will Direct His First Film, Complete Negotiations". New York Times. p. 25.
  9. ^ A. H. WEILER. (Oct 1, 1954). "OF PICTURES AND PEOPLE: 'What Makes Sammy Run?' Pursued by Independent Producers -- Addenda". New York Times. p. X5.
  10. ^ Louella O. Parsons. (Apr 2, 1954). "June Allyson to Play Opposite José Ferrer". The Washington Post and Times Herald. p. C13.
  11. ^ "THE TENDER TRAP' TO BECOME MOVIE: Shulman-Smith Comedy, Set for Fall Stage Bow Here, Is Bought by Metro". New York Times. July 27, 1954. p. 17.
  12. ^ Hopper, Hedda (May 26, 1955). "Dog Will Get Star Treatment in Film". Los Angeles Times. p. a6.
  13. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Sep 20, 1954). "Kazan Likely to Direct 'Pal Joey' and 'Picnic'; Dramatist's Wife Signs". Los Angeles Times. p. B9.
  14. ^ Howard Roberts as Sideman: 1950–1959
  15. ^ "The Shrike (1955) Tamed 'Shrike'; Film Wife Less Deadly Than One in Play". The New York Times, July 8, 1955
  16. ^ McClelland, Doug (1989). Hollywood Talks Turkey – The Screen's Greatest Flops. Starbrite.


External linksEdit