7.6/10
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The Desperate Hours (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 13 February 1956 (Sweden)
Three escaped convicts move in on and terrorize a suburban household.

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(screenplay), (adapted from the novel and play by)
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

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Detective
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Sheriff Masters
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FBI Agent Carson
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A reign of violence sweeps the screen


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

13 February 1956 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Horas desesperadas  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,388,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After the movie previewed, Humphrey Bogart told director William Wyler, "I think I'm too old to play gangsters". See more »

Goofs

When Eleanor makes the phone call, she and Glenn change position between shots. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in The Colgate Comedy Hour: Episode #6.3 (1955) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Bogie's No Rourke and Yes That's a Good Thing
6 January 2001 | by (Pittsburgh, PA) – See all my reviews

A lot of loopy comments out there about this one. "Predictable" is a very over-used adjective that I've certainly been guilty of myself, but what exactly is supposed to happen in a hostage-taking, domestic thriller like this? Are aliens supposed to land in the Hilliards' back yard and vaporize everyone? Is Bogart's escaped con supposed to dress up in drag at some point and decide he wants to become a chorus girl? Would that satisfy those who find this movie predictable?

"The Desperate Hours" keeps you on the edge of your seat; it more than passes the test as a thriller and it most certainly has not mellowed over time. The script is fine, intelligently examining how the respectably middle class but somewhat complacent father (Frederic March) draws strength and courage from the love of his wife and kids in handling the ordeal. Though each family member is formulating their own strategy for how best to resolve the crisis (their brains are always going "clickity-clickity-click" as Bogart mockingly keeps reminding them) they recognize March as the father and as such the captain of the ship. They look to him for leadership and he responds. It's telling that when the young son disobediently puts his ill-conceived plan into action, it undermines the father's nearly successful tactic. Though he had earlier suspected his dad of being cowardly for not taking a more aggressive stance, from this point on he begins to appreciate all the variables he must take into account and looks up to him once more. The idealized, but by no means wildly unrealistic domestic situation reflects the mood of the time. Why on earth would it possibly reflect cynically 90's attitudes and sensibilities, as some reviewers seem to desire?

There are casting decisions pertaining to age differences which raise an eyebrow, but do not seriously detract from William Wyler's (as masterful and dependable a director as Hollywood has ever cranked out) otherwise polished production. At 42 of course, Gig Young seems a tad old for the family's 19 year old daughter (beautiful Mary Murphy) but he's still youthful enough looking and he puts an interesting spin on what is usually the thankless role of the boyfriend who stumbles into things. One of the beauties of B&W photography is that it can always be used to make actors look as many as 5-15 years younger than they are. This comes into play with Bogart's character as well, as he's asked to be the older brother of 32 year old Dewey Martin, and it's something that I didn't have too hard a time buying. It's difficult to believe this was one of his last films, as he seems quite vigorous and robust in the part.

Tense, exciting, well-acted and directed; this is indisputably far superior to Michael Cimino's bloody and botched 1990 Mickey Rourke "star" vehicle remake.


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