The Desperate Hours (1955)
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as Glenn Griffin
as Dan Hilliard
as Jesse Bard
as Eleanor Hilliard
as Miss Swift
as Bucky Walling
as Mrs. Walling
Critic Reviews for The Desperate Hours
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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