58 user 24 critic

The Desperate Hours (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 13 February 1956 (Sweden)
Glen, Hal and Sam are three escaped convicts who move in on and terrorize a suburban household.



(screenplay), (adapted from the novel and play by)

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Sheriff Masters
FBI Agent Carson


After escaping from prison, Glenn Griffin, his brother Hal and a third inmate Sam Kobish randomly select a house in a well-to-do suburb of Indianapolis in which to hide out. The home belongs to the Hilliard family, Dan and Ellie who live there with their 19-year old daughter Cindy and their young son Ralph. They plan on staying only until midnight as Griffin is awaiting his girlfriend who will meet them with some money he had stashed away. When she doesn't arrive, their stay stretches out to several days. Dan Hilliard plays their game knowing that if he makes any attempt to contact the police, his family could be caught in the crossfire. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A reign of violence sweeps the screen


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 February 1956 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Horas desesperadas  »

Box Office


$2,388,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The exterior of the house used in the film is the same set used as the Cleaver home in the TV series Leave It to Beaver (1957). See more »


When Hilliard and Cindy are inside the car for the first time, the back projection image waves a little. See more »


[first lines]
[the morning newspaper hits the front door]
Eleanor Hilliard: I'll get it, darling.
Dan Hilliard: Some morning I'm gonna catch up with that kid.
See more »


Referenced in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir: Not So Desperate Hours (1969) See more »

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User Reviews

Tightly-wound thriller, based on true events
20 December 2004 | by See all my reviews


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (VistaVision)

Sound format: Mono

(Black and white)

The patriarch of a middle-class suburban family (Fredric March) is forced to take action when they're held hostage in their own home by three escaped convicts, one of whom (Humphrey Bogart) is an experienced lifer with nothing to lose...

The first and only pairing of superstars Bogart and March is a tightly-wound thriller, written by Joseph Hayes (based on his novel and stageplay, inspired by actual events), and directed by Hollywood veteran William Wyler, distancing himself from the 'women's pictures' he had helped to popularize during the 1940's (THE LITTLE FOXES, MRS. MINIVER, THE HEIRESS etc.). Photographed in gleaming deep-focus VistaVision by Lee Garmes (SCARFACE, THE PARADINE CASE), the movie wrings incredible tension from the claustrophobic settings and frequent stand-offs between staunch family man March and embittered con Bogart. The movie's themes are fairly conservative and the outcome is never really in doubt, but this is a top-drawer thriller from Hollywood's 'golden age'. Also starring Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin and Gig Young in crucial supporting roles. Unmissable.

NB. Though nowhere near as dreadful as most critics would have you believe, Michael Cimino's remake DESPERATE HOURS (1990) isn't a patch on the original.

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