Originally released in 1961 as Five Minutes to Live, this low-budget crime drama was later re-released as Door-to-Door Maniac. Fred narrates the film in flashback, detailing a suburban bank robbery that goes awry. In his simple plan, he hires a hard-up hood, Johnny Cabot to take the wife of the bank's vice president hostage. Cabot will hold her until he gets a call alerting him that Fred has been successful in getting ransom money. Cabot waits, and watches the Wilson house as the husband leaves for the bank and their young son heads off to school. Posing as a door-to-door guitar instructor, he forces his way into the house and takes Nancy Wilson hostage. At the bank, Fred talks his way into Ken Wilson's office, and presents his personal check for $70,000, intending that Wilson will withdraw the funds to cover the check as a ransom for his wife. He has Wilson call home to prove that Nancy is being held by the unstable Cabot, and gives Wilson 5 minutes to make his decision. If Fred ... Written by
Reasonably taut thriller concerning a twisted killer (Cash) recruited by crook (Tayback) to hold the wife (Forrester) of a bank manager (Woods) hostage at their house while Tayback extorts $70k at the bank for the safe release of the wife - confirmed by a series of phone calls at five minute intervals. Complications emerge when the bank manager proves reluctant to pay the ransom, seeing an opportunity to become free of his wife and take up with his mistress (Mason).
Co-star Forrester's script is functional, perhaps predictably giving her domestic characters more depth than usual, her performance benefiting from the extra attention in the dialogue. Cash isn't really an actor, though his offbeat expressions, timing and other attributes (serenading his victims with songs) manage to conjure something akin to a psychopath. Renowned tough-guy Tayback delivers his trademark mobster with all the expected motifs and the attractive Midge Ware has a brief role as Cash's ill-fated moll.
As far as unconventional casting of singers in movies go, this is somewhere between Neil Sedaka's bizarre appearance in "The Playgirl Killer" and a traditional Elvis Presley vehicle. And while there's no arbitrary album previews (the singing is short and in context), there remain a few extraneous interactions to pad out the modest 74 minutes in what could have been a more compact 30-minute TV episode. Nevertheless, there's some genuinely palpable tension and decent performances from Forrester, Tayback, Mason and even Ron Howard as the precocious son in an unexpected, pivotal supporting role.
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