The Desperate Hours


Crime / Drama / Film-Noir / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 79%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 9993

hostage escaped convict suburbia family hostage film noir

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
September 06, 2022 at 03:28 PM


Top cast

Humphrey Bogart as Glenn Griffin
Mary Murphy as Cindy Hilliard
Richard Eyer as Ralphy Hilliard
Martha Scott as Ellie Hilliard
1.01 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 52 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by classicsoncall 7 / 10

"I got it in me, you put it there."

I don't know how movie goers in the Fifties reacted to this film, but viewing it today makes the events in the story seem pretty preposterous. Not that it didn't have it's moments of psychological drama and tense confrontation, but it seems to me that Dan Hilliard (Fredric March) and daughter Cindy (Mary Murphy) had way too much freedom to go about their normal routines without attempting to reach out for help. Granted there was the element of danger to the remaining family members, but the do nothing approach of playing along with gangster Glenn Griffin (Humphrey Bogart) and his cohorts wore thin on me as the story unfolded. Back that up with all of the unsupervised time that Ellie (Martha Scott) and son Ralph seemed to have, it just left me wondering why they didn't take advantage of all the windows and doors in their large suburban home.

As an experienced con, Griffin didn't seem to have that much control over brother Hal (Dewey Martin) and the big lug Kobish (Robert Middleton). That was most evident in the back to back scenarios where each refused to give up his gun to the boss. Allowing Hal to leave was another tactical mistake, at least he could have left his weapon. For all his macho bravado, Griffin wasn't thinking very clearly.

Even boyfriend Chuck managed to bother me; why take the hard line stance with the Feds when they're about to break the case? Getting to the Hilliard home before even one police car arrived also seemed to defy credibility.

Credit Fredric March for rising above the source material to provide a reasonably compelling performance as the put upon Ward Cleaver stand in. Now there's a thought - with the film shot using the same exterior set as the one used in "Leave It To Beaver", wouldn't it have been great to see the Beav put one over on the Griffin's and Kobish?

OK, I seem to be getting unduly harsh on "The Desperate Hours". I guess the best way to view the film is to tuck away the criticism and get caught up in the flow of the story. In his last gangster turn, Bogey's still credible as a movie tough guy, and wired about as hair trigger as Duke Mantee, Baby Face Martin and Mad Dog Earle. This was the only time he and March appeared in a film with each other, and their scenes together are stand out.

Reviewed by blanche-2 8 / 10

Excellent film from William Wyler

Frederic March, Martha Scott, Humphrey Bogart and Arthur Kennedy are just a few of the people who endure "The Desperate Hours," a 1955 film, based on the stage play and directed by William Wyler. On Broadway, the play was directed by Robert Montgomery and starred Karl Malden in the Bogart role and Paul Newman played his brother, here played by Dewey Martin. The film also stars Gig Young, Mary Murphy, Richard Eyer, and Robert Middleton.

Having just seen Bogart in the 1936 "The Petrified Forest," it was interesting to see him still taking hostages 19 years later - and in fact, looking like he'd spent the last 19 years on the run from the law. He was clearly ill during the making of this film. Though Dewey Martin looked 30 years younger than Bogie, he was in fact only 20, making the fact that they were brothers a tiny bit more plausible.

I also had recently seen "The Star Witness," a 1931 Warner Brothers film with a similar plot, which won an Oscar for best original screenplay. By 1955, it wasn't original any longer, but the execution of the story is compelling. Martha Scott is a housewife, Ellie Hilliard, alone in her suburban home when three escaped criminals (Bogart, Martin and Middleton) take over the place. Glenn Griffin (Bogart) wants to murder the Deputy Sheriff (Arthur Kennedy) who put him in prison, and he needs to wait for the delivery of some money to make good his escape. Dan Hilliard (March) and his daughter Cynthia (Murphy) walk into the situation, followed later by the Hilliard's little boy (Eyer). You'll be wondering why the son isn't knocked off - by his parents - given the trouble he causes.

The money is delayed, and of course, the police have no idea where the gang is, as Griffin has put his car in the Hilliard garage. So the hours turn into overnight. Although March and Cynthia are allowed to leave the house for work, and Cynthia has to keep a date with her boyfriend (Young), they're too terrified to say anything for fear the mother and boy will be killed. Basically the gang as well and the family become prisoners as the hours drag on.

Wyler gives us lots of frightening and suspenseful moments as the tension builds in the house, and he never lets the pace drag. Supposedly he made March and Scott do a goodbye scene for take after take because he thought March was "acting" and wanted to tire him out. An accomplished stage actor of the old school, March consistently had a great presence but didn't always emotionally connect with his characters - he does here. March and Bogart make powerful adversaries, March hitting just the right note as an angry father afraid for his family, but not afraid to talk back to Griffin. Bogart's Griffin is shrewd and admires brains and bravery in others; the family impresses him with their guts.

Bogart is marvelous in the role - though tired out, his character is determined to keep the gang together and free; he's resentful of the middle classness of the family and how out of place he and his gang are in a nice home. Unlike his Duke Mantee in "The Petrified Forest", Bogart's Griffin doesn't seem to have a sense of the hopelessness of his situation until the very end; also unlike Duke Mantee, he has a vulnerability that he demonstrates at the end.

Robert Middleton gives a scary performance as a witless member of the gang, and Martin, as Hal, displays Hal's disillusionment with the situation, his attraction to Cynthia, and the realization that he can never have someone like her if he continues down his brother's road. Gig Young is somewhat wasted as Cythia's boyfriend - it's unnecessary star casting. Martha Scott does a terrific job as the harried wife and mother. The wonderful Arthur Kennedy gives another good performance as the sheriff determined to catch Griffin.

Highly recommended for its suspenseful story, fine direction, and top performances.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 7 / 10

Bogey's return to the Thirties

Humphrey Bogart got his first real notice on the silver screen in The Petrified Forest, repeating a role he did on Broadway. As Duke Mantee, criminal on the run, he held the occupants of a diner hostage for several hours.

Here in The Desperate Hours, Bogey takes over a role that Paul Newman originated on Broadway. Bogart, Dewey Martin and Robert Middleton play three escaped convicts who drive to Indianapolis because Bogart wants to kill the officer that arrested him. Dewey Martin is Bogart's younger brother and Robert Middleton is their brutal partner in the escape.

Given the age difference between Bogart and Paul Newman, I'm sure the role of Glenn Griffin was played quite differently by Newman on stage. Similarly Karl Malden played Dan Hilliard on stage and Fredric March plays him for the screen. March is no hero here, he's just an ordinary family man trapped with his family in a terrible situation.

Rounding out the Hilliard family is wife Martha Scott, daughter Mary Murphy and son Richard Eyer. Martha Scott had appeared with March before as his wife in One Foot in Heaven. She does well here also, but I do wonder where the real Mrs. March was, Florence Eldridge. It seems like a good joint project for both of them.

The Desperate Hours is a good suspenseful thriller that will keep you glued to your seat. These are real people here, not some Hollywood type situation comedy family. You will care about what the eventual outcome will be.

Read more IMDb reviews

No comments yet

Be the first to leave a comment