The Desperate Hours Reviews

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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 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.
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.
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.
February 22, 2014
It's not credible and somewhat ridiculous.
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.
January 27, 2008
:fresh: [b][i]The Perfect Hours [/i][/b]is not a perfect movie because it has some incongruences, like not saying anything about the thieves; the hostages can get in and out the house, the criminals accept visitors and the huge difference of ages in the family: March was in his 60's, Martha Scott in her 40's, the daughter in her 20's and the boy was between 8 and 10 years. Despite this weird details the production failed, it is a very frightening and suspenseful movie, directed by one of the greatest directors of Hollywood William Wyler and starring the amazing actors: Bogart, March and the best of the movie: Martha Scott.
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.
October 16, 2007
"The Desperate Hours" first introduces a typical 1950s nuclear family before their home is invaded by three gangsters hiding from the police. From there the film chronicles the tensions in the invaded home and the police search to find the gangsters.

Humphrey Bogart reprises his role as "tough guy" with his usual skill as the leader of the gangsters. Federic March's talents aren't on display as often as the father of the family, but his performance near the end talking to the sheriff and entering the house was excellent. Robert Middleton developed an interesting character in the feebleminded and boorish Sam Kobish and the supporting performances are fine as well.

This film does have some moments of tension and it is effective in developing a sense of paranoia amongst the gangsters near the end. The story on the whole is nothing profound, though, and makes this a less than interesting crime thriller. However, the ending is very well-developed with tension and the final moments with Bogart and March were gripping. Personally I found "The Petrified Forest" (1936) to be a much more interesting iteration of the "hostage situation" style of film with Bogart as a gangster.
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.
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