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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 Landy ... Carol
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


HOW MUCH WOULD A WOMAN PAY TO PUSH BACK THE CLOCK? (original print ad-all caps) 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 »


Remade as Five Minutes to Live 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

Cash call
7 September 2012 | by Chase_WitherspoonSee all my reviews

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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