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Count the Hours! (1953)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 1 April 1953 (USA)
Lawyer defends migrant worker falsely accused of two murders.


Don Siegel


Doane R. Hoag (screenplay), Karen DeWolf (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Teresa Wright ... Ellen Braden
Macdonald Carey ... Doug Madison
Dolores Moran ... Paula Mitchener
Adele Mara ... Gracie Sager, Max Verne's Girlfriend
Edgar Barrier ... Dist. Atty. Jim Gillespie
John Craven ... George Braden
Jack Elam ... Max Verne
Ralph Sanford ... Alvin Taylor


The midnight murder of a rancher and his wife leaves circumstantial evidence pointing the finger of guilt toward a married couple, George Braden and his wife Ellen, who live and work on the ranch. George confesses to the killings in order to free his wife from hours of grilling by the police. Despite the best efforts of his defense attorney, Doug Madison , George gets the death penalty. Sunsequent events, and his sympathy for Ellen convince Doug that George is innocent, but he must find the real murderer to prove it. His manhunt leads to a former hired hand, Max Verne. With the help of the latter's greedy girlfriend, Gracie Sanger, Max is found and admits to the killings. But when a hearing is held, a psychiatrist pronounces him unsound of mind, but harmless, and the judge sets him free. After the Governor rejects Doug's pleas for an appeal for George, the townspeople turn against him, and his fiancée, Paula Mitchener), misconstrues his association with Ellen and breaks their ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Violent...exciting...scandalous...mysterious...startling things...that make this a truly different kind of picture...bold as the murder that sparks its shocking story! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 April 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Matter of Life and Death See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Director of Photography John Alton agreed to do this movie, he asked Producer Benedict Bogeaus how much he had budgeted for rigging, the system of overhead pipes, brackets, ropes, and cables that suspends lights over a film set. Bogeaus told him four thousand dollars. "Give me two thousand dollars above my salary and I won't use any rigging", Alton said. He did it by using almost no overhead lighting at all, contributing to the film's rich visual atmosphere. See more »


Referenced in Mau Mau Sex Sex (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

Decent Time Passer
8 August 2015 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

The movie's an okay crime drama, but nothing more. There's some suspense near the end as lawyer Madison (Carey) gives exoneration one more try before his client Braden is executed. That manages some dramatic tension. Still, the opening hook may be the movie's best sequence as the mysterious intruder ends up shooting two old people while rifling a desk for money. It's effectively done in creepy shadow. The story's remainder, however, fails to rise above standard melodrama.

Fans of Wright will be disappointed, since her role is relatively small and overshadowed by two Monroe-like blondes. Speaking of blondes, Mara does a good imitation of Daisy Mae from Dogpatch, a backwoods caricature instead of a performance. I wish director Siegel had stepped in to prevent the disruptive effect. Of course, Elam's wild-eyed presence remains a big draw for many of us, and he doesn't disappoint. Get a load of his pants and shirt that look like rag-bin rejects. What a great character actor he was, and to think he was an A-grade studio accountant before turning thespian. Hard to figure him in a suit and tie after seeing his disheveled nut-case here.

Anyway, the movie was apparently shot in just nine days, which may account for its general lack of consistency, given the presence of virtuosos like Siegel and Alton. Had the movie been made several years earlier, I expect RKO would have come up with a noir. As things stand, however, the results are an adequate time passer but nothing more.

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