The Desperate Hours (1953)

Glenn Griffin: "You scream and the kid'll come home and find you in a pool of blood."
By William Wyler
With Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March and Martha Scott

Once I finished watching Niagara (1953) the other day I was on the IMDb page and a similar movie was The Desperate Hours. It's a movie with Humphrey Bogart that I hadn't seen yet and that's why I decided to see it as soon as I could.

The movie begins at the breakfast table of the merry Hilliard family. Dan, the father, is preparing to go to work and also giving a ride to Cynthia, the 19 year old daughter. Ellie, the mother, is trying to convince their boy Ralphy to drink his glass of milk. Ralphy then goes to school and to scout training. Once they all left, Ellie is alone at home but not for long as the convicts Glenn and Hal Griffin and Sam Kobish are about to break in her house. Glenn wants to have his girlfriend come and meet him with the money he saved before they leave but she gets arrested and the hostage situations seems to last forever to the family who is now fully aware of the situation and has to continue their usual routines at the risk of alerting the police and putting the other family members in danger.

As it is common with films adapted from plays, the script writing is really the best part of the movie. The dialogues are interesting but mostly the situation is really well knotted and we really believe in the situation and dilemma that the characters have to go through. The characters are all great, with maybe the exception of Hal who was really conflicted and whose demise occurs quickly--too quickly--before he ever had a chance to explain more about his character. The acting is also really strong. Even if Humphrey Bogart might appear a little old for the role, his witty one liners are just as good as ever. I feel that maybe there was an emphasis on the situation inside the house which shadowed the actual police work out there, so I can't decide whether it could have benefit the movie to either focus more on it or forget it completely and let the events teach us about it.

I liked: Good story and characters writing. Tensions and dilemma arise between hostages and convicts.

I disliked: Hal and Kobish were the weakest characters I feel. The role of the lawyer seems a bit overextended.

I'd say it's more of a crime play than a film-noir as the police investigation is really secondary as opposed to the gangster aspect.


Post a Comment