The Desperate Hours - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Desperate Hours Reviews

Page 1 of 4
garyX
Super Reviewer
March 6, 2007
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.
nuheart
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2007
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?
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2006
I really, really wanted to like this movie.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2007
A dense cat and mouse game featuring old Bogart, still pulling it off, maybe not as menacing as he could have, but it is his charcters rogue-like ambiguity that carries the movie. A hostage drama at its core, the movie features a many characters and depicts their conflicting interests. Of course, the increasing tension between the captors and the glooming disaster is what fires up the heat of suspense. Very good. HX
DrLappos
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2009
Classic...great movie even with Bogarts singular acting style....
½ August 20, 2015
Crossed another Bogart classic off my list of shame and I really enjoyed it quite a bit. He's more of the tough guy criminal here than in the films I've seen that cast him as more of a rough around the edges anti-hero, but it's still a great little flick and worth a look if you have a chance.

Rental.
½ April 11, 2008
Bogart and March, enough reason to see it, but the performances from the supporting cast and some tight direction by Wyler make it a near-classic, kind of like a slightly more mature and intriguing version of The Petrified Forest, which also had Bogart as a criminal on the run holding up in a place and acting all bad-ass and Bogart-ish.
August 3, 2010
Another common noir plot: the hostage scenario. Seen also in He Ran All the Way, The Hitch-Hiker, and at least two previous Bogart films, The Petrified Forest and Key Largo. This is one of the best of them, with the situation escalating very naturally, amping up the tension nicely. Bogie's really terrific here, with a rougher edge than usual. The film could use a little more style, but Wyler does pull off some noteworthy compositions. One thing that drags it down for me is the little boy, one of those golly-gee little tykes that just annoys the hell out of me. Plus, he almost fucks everything up... TWICE. Little brat. Otherwise, quite a gripping take on an old chestnut.
½ June 14, 2009
Far far better than the remake, Humphrey Bogart heads a great cast and gives a compelling and excellent performance. Fredric March is a bit over dramatic, and that is surprising, it's not something he normally does. Very tense story, quite well written. One drawback, the little boy, Ralphie, played by Richard Eyer is so irritating and annoying, he really hurts the overall impact of the film. What a brat! So much for the theory kids raised in the 1950's were better mannered than kids today.
September 23, 2008
Powerful thriller w/ a great disturbing portrayal by Humphrey Bogart; develops a claustrophobic tension that you could cut w/ a knife by the end of the flm.
March 20, 2008
Bogart admitted that he was too old to be playing a gangster and it does show here. The picture is very solid and as usual Bogie is a menace to a science. Surprisingly enough Fredric March was a little less convincing as the husband/father role. Victimized characters do tend to make things less easy for even talented performers like March so I can overlook that.

As a noir it's an ace production. Very straight-forward story that keeps your attention and some violent outcomes for the characters involved.
April 9, 2008
Obviously, this was not Humphrey Bogart's final film. No, he made one more the next year before dying of throat cancer in January of '57. I've not seen that last one, but this one will serve quite well. The tired old escaped prisoner, here, this last gangster, stands in for a tired middle-aged actor, doing what he loves but dying nonetheless. All the anger, all the fury, all the raging against the dying of light--oh, Bogart has done this before, and better, but there is a desperate poignance to this performance all the same.

Bogart plays Glenn Griffin, who escapes from prison along with his brother, Hal (Dewey Martin, who would go on to play Daniel Boone for four episodes), and their partner in crime, Sam Kobish (Robert Middleton). They take a nice, quiet family of four hostage inside their own home until Griffin's girlfriend can deliver money to them so they can make their escapes. There is, of course, the impetuous son who wants his ol' man to take out the gangsters--of course, the boy does not think of the consequences. There's the teenage (19 is still teenage!) daughter with the boyfriend her father disapproves of. (Probably because he's a full-fledged lawyer.) There's the staid business man and his pretty, industrious wife. Just a normal family, circa 1955. Until the convicts come, that is.

This is not exactly taut drama, I'll admit. Indeed, it's a deeply flawed film. Kobish is a parody--he's clearly at least borderline retarded; he is driven by the concept of pleasure, be it from sex, booze, or killing. I don't exactly expect fraternal devotion, but I spent most of the movie confusing which actor played Bogart's brother. The only way I could see Kobish being part of it was a sort of Lennie-George scenario, and Griffon is no George.

Then again, Kobish is no Lennie. There was no bad in Lennie, and these are not nice guys. These men would really have no qualms about killing the nice, clean-cut Hilliard family. It's only a matter of which member of it will go first. Cindy (Mary Murphy), in an ill-fated rescue attempt from her boyfriend, Chuck (Gig Young, who came to a bad end himself)? Ralphie (Richard Eyer), attempting to act like a grownup and instead acting more like a child than he realizes? Dan (Frederic March), in an attempt to contact the police? Or Ellie (Martha Scott), too pretty to be trapped with these men? Someone will not end well, and while we know the Code makes pretty clear who at least some of them are, it doesn't mean that others will not die.

In the end, Bogart makes his choice. In the end, this is what we all want to do. In that, if in no other way, Glenn Griffon becomes an admirable character.
½ November 25, 2007
It isn't classic Bogie but it's good film non-the-less. It's a taut thriller that is sometimes annoying but just having Bogie in the film can carry it so far.
½ July 4, 2007
This ended up being a great movie. Bogart along with his brother and another guy break out of prison and take a family hostage. There is a great balance of the family trying to get away and the escapees trying to keep them quiet. The ending is pretty smart. I highly recommend this movie.
August 22, 2005
[color=white]Classic thriller has Humphrey Bogart (in his second to last film role) as an escaped con holding Frederic March and his family hostage in their quaint suburban home. The premise has been imitated many times, but rarely with this much intensity and power; William Wyler, known mostly for comedies such as "The Apartment" and "Roman Holiday," turns in one of his best films.[/color]
½ April 19, 2005
Far far better than the remake, Humphrey Bogart heads a great cast and gives a compelling and excellent performance. Fredric March is a bit over dramatic, and that is surprising, it's not something he normally does. Very tense story, quite well written. One drawback, the little boy, Ralphie, played by Richard Eyer is so irritating and annoying, he really hurts the overall impact of the film. What a brat! So much for the theory kids raised in the 1950's were better mannered than kids today.
December 13, 2003
Viewed 12/13/03 (DVD) (First Viewing)

This William Wyler thriller is taut and entertaining, if not exactly memorable. Distinctive for being Humphrey Bogart's last crime movie (and his second to last film) and the only time Bogart and Hollywood legend Fredric March costarted in a film (and the sparks fly brilliantly). It's expertly done, but it lacks anything fantastic that makes it a must-see film. Worth watching, not necessarily worth seeking out.
½ August 20, 2015
Crossed another Bogart classic off my list of shame and I really enjoyed it quite a bit. He's more of the tough guy criminal here than in the films I've seen that cast him as more of a rough around the edges anti-hero, but it's still a great little flick and worth a look if you have a chance.

Rental.
½ July 27, 2015
Classic crime-noir that holds up thanks to a superb cast & direction that never lets the movie get over-blown. Bogart is at his sinister best as Glenn Griffen, playing him with the right mix of charm & cruelty that you can't help but like him, even when he does some horrible things. He's matched well with Dan Hillard as Frederic March, a simple family man pushed to his limit when threatened. William Wyler's direction is subtle & never gets over-blown, with March never doing anything stupidly heroic (he avoids getting the police involved as much as possible) while tightening the suspense as things keep going wrong, from a simple trash delivery to a letter that just won't arrive on time. First-rate crime thriller that modern films (including it's subpar remake) could learn from.
Page 1 of 4