7.5/10
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64 user 30 critic

The Desperate Hours (1955)

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

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Humphrey Bogart ... Glenn Griffin
Fredric March ... Dan C. Hilliard
Arthur Kennedy ... Deputy Sheriff Jesse Bard
Martha Scott ... Ellie Hilliard
Dewey Martin ... Hal Griffin
Gig Young ... Chuck Wright
Mary Murphy ... Cindy Hilliard
Richard Eyer ... Ralphie Hilliard
Robert Middleton ... Sam Kobish
Alan Reed ... Detective
Bert Freed ... Tom Winston
Ray Collins ... Sheriff Masters
Whit Bissell ... FBI Agent Carson
Ray Teal ... State Police Lt. Fredericks
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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 See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 February 1956 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Horas desesperadas See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,388,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of Glenn Griffin was made older so Humphrey Bogart could play the role. The stage version starred Karl Malden and a young Paul Newman in the Bogart role. See more »

Goofs

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

Referenced in Married... with Children: The Desperate Half-Hour (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Bogie's No Rourke and Yes That's a Good Thing
6 January 2001 | by abooboo-2See 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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