Saw this a long time ago, but can't remember if I liked it. Better see it again before I rate it.
UPDATE: Finally got a chance to seee this again, and I was NOT disapponted. It's my first Samuel Fuller film, and if the others are of this quality I can't wait for the rest.
Peter Breck plays a journalist on the big story that will win him a Pulitzer. He has himself committed to a mental hospital to get a story about a patient murder, and finds that he is slowly coming just as unhinged as the people he is observing.
While some of the film is dated, in particular the scene with the "nymphos", and some is just offensive -- Dr. Cristo's implication that Cathy is bringing on John's "Illness" by encouraging John's incestuous behavior, for example (reminds me of all those years of women being blamed for bringing on rapes by being too seductive) -- for the most part, the film is extremely well-done. The scenes of Stuart and Trent's revelations about the origins of their respective mental illnesses were moving at times, and special props have to go to Larry Tucker as wife-killer "Pagliacci." I've never seen this guy before, and he was great. He had this weird half-happy fat guy/half-nutso serial killer laugh that really got me. I would have liked him to have more screen time. In bragging on the supporting players, I don't want to take away from Breck himself. He did a good job in general, and a great job in a couple of scenes where he has started cracking.
I get the impression that Sam Fuller had a real problem -- as everyone should -- with the Southern racial attitudes of the 1950s and 60s. Both Stuart and Trent's illnesses stemmed from experiences they had in the South -- Stuart being raised by bigoted Southern parents, Trent being the only black student in an all-white Southern university. Someone more versed in Fuller can probably fill me in on this.
A couple of things -- besides the stuff I already mentioned -- that I wasn't fond of were 1) the ending, which seemed a little Twilight-Zoney and tacked-on, and 2) I've never been a fan of Constance Towers (she reminds me of a second-rate Joan Crawford for some reason). I've always found her performances kinda flat, and she fits that bill here with one of the lamest-ass stripteases I've ever seen.
One thing that gave me pause -- Even though the film was made in B&W, the mental patients dreams were in color. I dream in color. Coincidence?