Monday, 11 February 2013

The Desperate Hours

THE DESPERATE HOURS (Black and white, 1955)

William Wyler
Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March, Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin, Gig Young, Robert Middleton, Mary Murphy and Richard Eyer  
10 and up

Dan (March) lives in a suburban household with his son, Ralphie (Eyer), wife (Scott) and daughter, Cindy (Murphy). Their house is soon terrorised by escaped convicts Sam Kobish (Middleton), Glenn Griffin (Bogart) and Glenn’s young brother Hal (Martin). Hal dies when knocked over by a car and it soon turns out that the three wanted Dan’s money. Dan and family turn to Jesse Bard (Kennedy), who help them outwit the convicts with his force.

From left: Frederic March as Dan Hillard and Humphrey Bogart as Glenn Griffin.
Why it’s good:
It is a cross between the dramas and the film noirs.
The drama is more present, since it told the audiences then to keep their houses safe from intruders. It still delivers that message today.

It is now an underrated classic in the way that this kind of stuff still happens now. The kidnaps now are violent and bloody, but still it is a kidnap.
Another reason is Bogart’s new wave acting where he is simply immersed in his roles as a convict and an intruder. He acts in a way he would if he were there.

The supporting cast dominate the film too. Dewey Martin is in love with the person he terrorizes while Eyer’s Ralph is forced to drink milk fast.

Parent’s guide:
There is a scene where one person gets shot in the front yard of Dan’s house. Sam carjacks a garbage collector’s truck and kills him. Also, one character gets knocked down by a truck on the road.
Bogart and March’s only film pairing.

If you like this…:
More gangland dramas would include "Scarface: The Shame of a Nation" (1932); see Gangster action), "Little Caesar" (1931) and "White Heat" (1949).   


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