Shanks (film)

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Directed by William Castle
Produced by William Castle
Steven North
Sheldon Schrager
Written by Ranald Graham
Starring Marcel Marceau
Tsilla Chelton
Philippe Clay
Music by Alex North
Cinematography Joseph Biroc
Edited by David Berlatsky
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
October 9, 1974 (1974-10-09)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Shanks is a 1974 American horror film about a puppeteer able to manipulate dead bodies like puppets. Mime Marcel Marceau, in his first major film role, plays the titular Malcolm Shanks. It was the last film directed by producer-director William Castle.


Malcolm Shanks (Marceau) is a deaf, mute puppeteer who lives with his cruel sister (Chelton) and her husband (Clay). His skill with puppets is noticed by a doctor who takes him on as a lab assistant. The doctor's experiments involve reanimating the dead and controlling them like puppets. When the doctor dies unexpectedly, Shanks continues the experiments to exact revenge.



Marceau, who had for decades before performed in his signature white face makeup and without speaking, both spoke and appeared without makeup for this film. He played two roles: Malcolm Shanks, who could not speak, and Old Walker, who could. He had appeared in 20 shorts and films in small and cameo roles, often as his mime character Bip. Director William Castle took an interest in him after watching him perform the pantomime "Youth, Maturity, Old Age and Death" and approached him with the script for Shanks, saying it dealt with similar themes. Said Marceau of the script, "it was exactly what I had been looking for."[1]


Film critic Roger Ebert described the film as a disappointment, though he credited Marceau and his performance, describing it as "always interesting and sometimes gruesomely funny" [2]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Conductor Alex North was nominated for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score for the 47th Academy Awards in 1975.[3]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]