I always seem to be drawn to films that focus on mental health issues, especially older films that tackle more challenging subjects that were probably taboo at the time. Sometimes they can be of a exploitation nature but most of the films I’ve enjoyed have addressed the difficult matter at hand with great thought and sensitivity. Fourteen Hours is another fine example of mixing deep thoughtful drama with real life, complex problems that many people could face at sometime in their own life. The wonderful thing that impresses me, well most of the time, is the ability to deal with the subject matter in a way to let the viewer understand, feel sympathy for, and maybe even learn from. Fourteen Hours is about suicide. But before you turn away, this is an exceptional drama which is thought-provoking and features really outstanding performances from it’s two leads.
A suicidal man, Robert Cosick (Richard Basehart), desperately unhappy with his life decides to climb out on to the 15th floor ledge of a Manhattan hotel. A broken man, confused and helpless, he doesn’t know what to do next. Standing on a ledge no bigger than his shoe size, his back lent against the wall, swaying, with his hands by his side, Robert contemplates his life.
Tagline – From the edge of the ledge he defied them all!
The dizzying heights induce bouts of vertigo for the viewer as you watch from the comfort of your home. You gasp like the lady who sees him perched in this impossibly dangerous position. The screams alert passers by on the busy Broadway street in Manhattan, New York. A traffic cop, Police Officer Charlie Dunnigan (Paul Douglas) is first on the scene. The emergency services are called and soon the street is cordoned off, gridlock, cars and taxis jammed in, all whilst a flow of spectators gather to watch the drama unfold.
Managing to make first contact with the man on the ledge Police Officer Charlie Dunnigan leans out to talk to the distressed young man. Charlie isn’t skilled in negotiations but he has a kind, soft manner. As he tries to find out a name and what is troubling the young man, Robert warms to Charlies warm nature.
Can Charlie make a connection and urge Robert to return to hotel room. Can he decipher what the underlying problem maybe? With Deputy Police Chief Moskar (Howard Da Silva) barking orders and organising the police force for a quick resolution. It’s lucky Charlie has the help of psychiatrist Dr. Strauss (Martin Gabel) who coaches Charlie through some tactics. With the acting edition of Agnes Moorehead, Robert Keith and a young Miss Ellie Ewing, Barbara Bel Geddes adding to the mix of helper!. Can any of these people somehow get this young man to come off his ledge? And as a media circus and spectators start to build a crowd on the road below, will he jump and end his life?
Tagline – A new element in screen suspense
A few Wolfie observations.
- Director Henry Hathaway went western crazy during his filmmaking years. True Grit, How The West Was Won, Rawhide, The Sons Of Katie Elder to name a few. Be sure to recommend me any of his dramas, film noir etc if you know.
- Based on true events of a 26 year old man called John William Warde who spent 11 hours on a ledge 17th floors high before!!!! And also during post production a daughter of a high profile movie executive Spyros Skouras had leaped from a building. Which ultimately put pressure on the films release.
- There’s three incidental intertwined stories that play out during the crisis. One featuring a debut film performance by Grace Kelly. Another story has a chance meeting love story between Jeffrey Hunter and the insanely gorgeous Debra Paget. And in the last little story, a bunch of taxi drivers stuck in the gridlock take bets on the drama. Look out for Ossie Davis amongst the cabbies.
- Look out for the service waiter played Frank Faylen. He’s a guy that just keeps popping up in films I been loving, The Sniper, 99 River Street and Riot In Cell Block 11 to name a few.
- Jeffrey Hunter played the first captain of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek in the original pilot episode. He wasn’t the captain we would come to know but played Captain Christopher Pike. Unfortunately he turned down continuing with the series and the pilot was never properly released until 1988. The rest they say is history, step forward William Shatner.
- Apparently the film Man on a Ledge, starring Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks is inspired by it but reading the summary it’s taken all the personal drama out of it and made it about a diamonds heist! I have a feeling I’ve seen it but can remember anything about it.
This is edge of your seat stuff, with amazing leg wobbling visuals and scary looking stunts. Richard Basehart is believable as the troubled young man but it’s Paul Douglas’s performance that’s steals the show. He comes across like the perfect guy you would like to meet to keep you calm but also street enough to take no shit. Definitely worth adding to your movie watching list if you haven’t seen it but if you have, let me know, be good to hear what you thought.
Thanks for dropping in on my movie blog. Take care and hope to see you soon… Mikey Wolf