A Shock to the System (1990 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A Shock to the System
A Shock to the System poster.jpg
Directed by Jan Egleson
Produced by Patrick McCormick
Written by Andrew Klavan
Music by Gary Chang
Cinematography Paul Goldsmith
Edited by William M. Anderson
Peter C. Frank
Distributed by Corsair Pictures
Release date
  • March 23, 1990 (1990-03-23)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,417,056

A Shock to the System is a 1990 American dark comedy crime thriller film directed by Jan Egleson and starring Michael Caine, Swoosie Kurtz, Elizabeth McGovern, and Peter Riegert. It is based on the 1984 novel A Shock to the System by British author Simon Brett.

Plot summary[edit]

Family man Graham Marshall, a long-time executive in a large advertising company, is unexpectedly passed over for promotion. Marshall is angry and disappointed. His wife, Leslie, is devastated and continually reproaches her husband for his apparent lack of ambition and willpower.

An unfortunate accident occurs in the subway, caused by Marshall, in which a panhandler is killed. Marshall is able to leave unobserved, which gives him a whole new set of ideas as far as his future life is concerned.

Deciding to take revenge on the people who have caused him problems in his life, Marshall starts meticulously planning their deaths. This includes his wife, whom he electrocutes, and his young rival at the office, Bob Benham, who received the promotion that Marshall believed was his.

Marshall becomes much better acquainted with an office colleague, Stella Henderson and narrowly averts being caught even after it is clear that Stella has figured out his guilt and has the evidence to denounce him. However, by keeping his cool, he is able through a newfound ability to cajole and intimidate to recover the evidence before the police do. When none of the murders is linked to him, Graham feels vindicated in his belief that murder is an effective way to get what he wants in life and embraces his method to climb higher up the corporate ladder.[1]

Difference from the novel[edit]

The movie plot differs from the novel in its ending. In the novel, the protagonist is caught but, ironically, not for the murder he had committed.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b A Shock to the System, dir. Jan Egleson, 1990.

External links[edit]