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
Surprisingly effective psycho thriller with memorably over-the-top performance from Johnny Cash
Before watching this, I was expecting some good campy laughs at the expense of the utterly bizarre casting (Johnny Cash, the Man in Black himself, as a psychotic murderer?). Well, I got them, but this flicks also surprisingly decent in some respects. Cash, even when maniacally overacting, is still the coolest man ever, no matter what he does. Even though this is far from the best thing hes done, its a decent enough portrayal. Sure, its a bit over-the-top but actually somewhat believable. Its a bit disorienting seeing him murder a women in cold blood and using Ron Howard as a human shield.
Cash makes the whole film basically. The direction by Bill Karn isn't anything special, but keeps everything moving at a quick pace. The family that Cash invades is so annoying you begin to root for him. In particular, Ron Howard plays possibly the most annoying little kid in all 50s / 60s cinema, if not all time. Donald Woods makes a wooden leading man, and Cay Forrester constant panicking wears on your nerves very fast. Still, Cash remains cool and calm throughout. The scene where he destroys the vases and lamps in Forrester's living room is absolutely priceless. "Door-to-Door Maniac" overall was better than expected. (6/10)
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