6.7/10
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52 user 19 critic

A Shock to the System (1990)

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1:59 | Trailer
When you think you're at the top of the corporate ladder and then discover they have managed to pull that ladder away, sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to "level" the playing ... See full summary »

Director:

Jan Egleson

Writers:

Simon Brett (novel), Andrew Klavan (screenplay)
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Graham Marshall
Elizabeth McGovern ... Stella Anderson
Peter Riegert ... Robert Benham
Swoosie Kurtz ... Leslie Marshall
Will Patton ... Lt. Laker
Jenny Wright ... Melanie O'Conner
John McMartin ... George Brewster
Barbara Baxley ... Lillian
Haviland Morris ... Tara Liston
Philip Moon ... Henry Park
Kent Broadhurst ... Executive #1
Zach Grenier ... Executive #2
David Schramm ... Executive #3
Sam Schacht Sam Schacht ... David Jones
Christopher Durang Christopher Durang ... Convention Speaker
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Storyline

When you think you're at the top of the corporate ladder and then discover they have managed to pull that ladder away, sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to "level" the playing field, both professionally and personally. Sir Michael Caine delivers an electrifying performance as Graham Marshall, who quickly catches onto the possibilities as he clears all the hurdles to occupy the corner office. Written by Edgy01

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Climbing the corporate ladder can be murder. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lieutenant Laker (Will Patton) has often been described as being a Columbo (1971)-like detective. See more »

Goofs

In the climax scene on the subway platform, Elizabeth McGovern's hair changes from being neatly styled, to noticeably frizzy and loose, then back again. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Graham Marshall: It all began one night when the lights went out.
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Connections

Featured in Premio Donostia a Michael Caine (2000) See more »

User Reviews

Crime DOES Pay if You Kill Horrible People!!!
21 September 1999 | by alicecbrSee all my reviews

Who says Michael Caine is a so-so actor? He plays the perfect combination of a truly nice guy ground down by his shrewish wife, his slimy peer-then-boss, and corporate life, in general. Movies like this give us corporate slaves a little relief from the utter amoral depravity of the 'civilized' world we inhabit in these rabbit warrens, otherwise known as 'Cubical Hell'.

This man makes you completely sympathize with every one of his murders, all nicely planned to look like accidents. In fact, I am amazed that some lawyer hasn't pulled the 'Shock to the System' defense. Certainly, it has as much attraction for the frustrated as the films usually blamed. It's just more subtle, more high-brow and takes a little more finesse.

The detective is wonderfully nosy, but how he can walk up to Caine in the middle of New York City is quite amazing to me. A little too much dramatic license, too much coincidence to be believable but you tend to forget your logical approach to life.

Reality is easily suspended as Caine gets in his licks for all the humuliations we nice people have suffered in the corporate world, where the rapacious are rewarded by CEO salaries. The laughs are fast and furious, all delivered in that great understated British fashion.

Mr. Downtrodden gets his licks in and when the new boss talks about his Cessna, you've already fixed the engine. There are traces of 'The Ruling Class' in here, as Mr. Nice Guy becomes king of the mountain by firing everyone 'who is not a contributor', thus ingratiating himself with Mr. Cessna. McGovern gives her Basset hound, soulful looks all through the film, and you feel her conflict about turning this wonderful guy in. She is promoted out and away, and all is well, which is usual for corporate shenanigans. They just usually don't involve murder.

Buy it and love it. Forget the professional reviewers for once on this. It's not meant to be 'Hamlet'.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 March 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Shock to the System See more »

Filming Locations:

Essex Fells, New Jersey, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,002,158, 25 March 1990

Gross USA:

$3,417,056

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,417,056
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Brigand Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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