Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

A Shock to the System


Michael Caine is an executive with a wife (Swoosie Kurtz) he no longer loves, and soon he discovers that he’s been passed over for the job, which he needed to maintain his lifestyle, for a younger man. In the basement one day, trying to repair a short circuit in his house’s wiring, he gets a shock that knocks him on his ass … and seems to work a change in his outlook on life. It’s a “shock to the system.” He begins talking to himself, seeing himself as some sort of wizard who can wave his hand and solve any problem. One is his wife, who he persuades that the best way to fix the short when the lights go off when she starts her stairstepper machine is to go down to the basement, hold onto a pipe, and pull the string on a light fixture. He is conveniently in San Francisco when she does it, and is electrocuted. One opponent down, how many more to go? If I were Bob (Peter Riegert, who is so good at playing corporate backstabbers), who took the job Caine wanted and is now sabotaging him any way he can … well, I’d be careful every time I got on my sailboat.

There is one cop who suspects him, and Caine makes a mistake that could put him in prison … and I don’t want to issue a spoiler warning, so I won’t say any more about how it all comes out, except to note that the ending was radically changed from what happened in the book (where he was totally framed for a murder he did not commit), and I like the new ending a lot better. There is a romance with Elizabeth McGovern, who has one of the nicest baby faces I’ve ever seen on a woman, and she plays a critical role in the ending. Lee and I enjoyed this one a lot.