The Desperate Hours (1955)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Desperate Hours Videos & Photos

Movie Info

Based on the novel and play by Joseph Hayes, which in turn was inspired by an actual event, The Desperate Hours is the prototypical "family-trapped-by-criminals" drama. Escaped convicts Humphrey Bogart, Robert Middleton and Dewey Martin, seeking an appropriate hideout until they can make contact with their money supply, deliberately choose the suburban home of Fredric March and his family. The cold-blooded Bogart wants no trouble with the police, and he knows he can cower a family with children … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Joseph Hayes
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 10, 2003
Paramount Pictures


as Glenn Griffin

as Dan Hilliard

as Jesse Bard

as Chuck

as Eleanor Hilliard

as Ralphie

as Detective

as Winston

as Masters

as Carson

as Fredericks

as Detective

as Detective

as Miss Swift

as Bucky Walling

as Mrs. Walling

as Detective
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Desperate Hours

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

William Wyler's taut direction elevates this thriller, which stars Bogart in his last screen role and Fredric March; far superior to the 1991 remake.

Full Review… | February 2, 2013

An aged fiftysomething Humphrey Bogart is in his element as the snarling desperate fugitive, a role played on Broadway by the much younger Paul Newman.

Full Review… | June 29, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Solid version of the play with strong cast.

August 18, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for The Desperate Hours

Three escaped convicts invade a middle class family's home and hold them hostage. The premise of The Desperate Hours is something that, in the right hands, could have been a tense and gripping affair full of sharp dialogue and insightful character analysis. Unfortunately this stage-bound script could not shake its theatrical roots and the characters are too stereotypical to have any real lasting impact. The family are a poster for Republican middle America, seemingly having stepped out of a 50s sitcom and the crooks are all shown as ignorant, working class thugs which leaves a rather unpleasant vibe of class snobbery. The dialogue lacks any real bite and the tension is compromised by the fact that Bogie allows the family members to almost come and go at will. On the plus side, Bogart is as solid as ever and is always fun in his bad guy roles and there are some nice scenes between he and Frederic March as the apple-pie dad who finds his backbone once his family is threatened, but it's too long considering the one idea premise and seriously sags in the middle because of it. John Huston did something similar in Key Largo to much greater effect.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I liked the Mickey Rourke version better -- and I didn't like that one so much, y'know?

Steve B.

Super Reviewer

I really, really wanted to like this movie.

Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

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