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Five Minutes to Live (1961)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Music | February 1964 (Austria)
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... See full summary »


Bill Karn


Cay Forester (screenplay), Palmer Thompson (based on a story by) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Johnny Cash ... Johnny Cabot
Donald Woods ... Ken Wilson
Cay Forester ... Nancy Wilson
Pamela Mason ... Ellen Harcourt
Midge Ware ... Doris Johnson
Vic Tayback ... Fred Dorella
Ron Howard ... Bobby Wilson (as Ronnie Howard)
Merle Travis ... Max
Norma Varden ... Priscilla Auerbach
Leslie Kimmell Leslie Kimmell ... Mr. Johnson (as Leslie Kimmel)
Marge Waller Marge Waller ... Secretary
Patricia Lynn Patricia Lynn ... Gert
Frances Flower Frances Flower ... Irma
Hanna Hertelendy ... Carol (as Hanna Landy)
Cynthia Flower Cynthia Flower ... Girl Bowling


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 msb/lll

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Only moments to meet a killer's gun-point demand! (original poster) See more »


Crime | Drama | Music | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

February 1964 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Door-to-Door Maniac See more »


Box Office


$100,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Also known as Door To Door Killer. See more »


[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »


Johnny Cabot: I like a messy bed.
See more »


Edited into The Clock (2010) See more »


Five Minutes To Live
Written by Johnny Cash
Sung by Johnny Cash (uncredited)
Solo Guitar by Merle Travis (as Merl Travis)
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent low budget thriller!
14 August 2006 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

This film is best remembered for the fact that it stars country legend Johnny Cash is his first film role. This actually lowered my expectations for the film, as I'm not a massive fan of Cash and films that go down in history for the casting of a non-actor are often not very good...but this film has far more going for it than it's lead actor, and overall I've got to say that it's criminal that this hasn't won itself a more esteemed place in cinema history. It's clear that the film was shot on a very low budget as it features a very grainy black and white picture, a small central cast and some suspect acting from all corners; but all this stuff doesn't matter, as the screenplay is well written and there's a lot of fun to be had with this film. The plot follows a couple of guys who think they've discovered the perfect get rich quick scheme. One of them pretends to be a salesman in order to get into the house of the president of the women's association, while the other one pretends to be a customer at her husband's bank. After explaining the situation to her husband, they offer him a trade; his money or his wife.

Overall, it has to be said that this little thriller isn't very original as there have been a lot of films in this same vein; but Bill Karn's film approaches it's subject with a fresh view, and the way that the director continually ensures the tone is always bleak provides a major highlight. It's easy to believe that the central character is in danger through Cash's loose cannon performance, and the way that the action focuses on two central locations; the family home and the bank, ensures that the plot always takes centre stage, and it is made interesting through its memorable cast of characters. Even though Cash wasn't predominantly an actor, his performance is really good and the way that the director lets him play his guitar makes best use of him. And on a personal note, I think it's good of Cash to put himself at risk to play a sadistic maniacal character. The rest of the support cast play second fiddle to the musical genius, but each one gives a good turn and this ensures that the film is elevated above its low budget thriller status. It all boils down to an exciting and satisfying climax that both deals fitting comeuppance, and rounds it all off nicely. Overall, this film is well worth tracking down and comes highly recommended!

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