Looking back through my recent film posts it reveals that the 50’s has been making a mark on this here cine-wolf. Each movie find that I watch has brought its own new unique style. Like with many films from the 40’s and 50’s they just get the pacing spot on. A dash of surprising action, a shocking bit of violence and the right amount of dialogue. Expertly giving a good balance to realistic situations and character development. Whilst still always pushing and probing the boundaries, daring to see what they can get past the censors. And with doing so, they manage to draw you right into their created worlds. Yesterdays viewing schedule presented me with Humphrey Bogart’s penultimate film, The Desperate Hours.
Nothing could prepare you for the absolute nightmare of a house invasion, especially when your whole family is involved. You might think you’d be brave and gunho but if there’s a gun pointed at your wife’s head you’re gonna freeze. Pure terror will overcome any fight or flight response as you look at your daughter and son’s pertifried faces. The sight of three strangers in your house and the realisation that you are powerless to stop any horror that could easily manifest in a blink of an eye. Three escaped convicts, three thugs, three men capable of spontaneous and ferocious violence. What could/can you do?
That is the horror situation that Dan Hilliard (Fredric March) his loving wife Ellie (Martha Scott) and two children Cindy (Mary Murphy) and Ralphie (Richard Eyer) all find themself in. The trio of fugitives had smashed their way out of prison, killing a guard, taking his revolver were now on the run. In a stolen car, they roll through a suburban street, stopping at the perfect house for their needs. Unfortunately for the Hilliard family, this was their home.
Taglines – A reign of violence sweeps the screen
Glenn Griffin (Humphrey Bogart) leads the gang, along with his young brother Hal (Dewey Martin) and a big dimwitted oaf with a real vicious streak, Sam Kobish (Robert Middleton). Glenn plans to have his girl bring a stash of money to the house, giving them enough cash to escape. The plan was to be out of this house and on their way by midnight but not all good plans work out perfectly. The longer they stay, the more terrorised the family is. Threatened at gunpoint, intimidated at every hour with the likelihood of impending death. Menace is around every corner. The fear of rape and violence at every turn and anxiety of being split up and taken hostage when the criminals make a dash for it.
All this intimidation is too much for Dad Dan as this mild mannered man comes to his wits end. He is slowly pushed through the convicts actions into something stronger than he could imagine. Still with all the pressure and demands on him, will he be able to let the police know? What if the police rush in guns a blazing? It could cause a blood bath which his family would be the center of! What can Dan Hilliard do? Luckily he has a head strong family but in every action comes a consequence, especially around armed unhinged convicts. How much stress and tension can this family take?
It’s a gripping drama piled high with despair and angst. The Desperate Hours is in fact based on a true event though I imagine it has been jazzed up a touch. The story was first made into a novel and then a play by Joseph Hayes before being adapted once again for the big screen. Directing duties are handled by one of the legends of cinema, William Wyler.
However much I’ve enjoyed digging around in the 50’s I do need to venture off into some other eras for the movie blog. Tune in to see if I can escape from the 50’s movies land on my next post? One thing’s for sure I certainly will be back soon as I have a whole heap of 50’s goodies to work my way through. Thanks for dropping on in, have you seen The Desperate Hours? Let me know if you want to. All the best, Mikey.
PS Check out these two brilliant poster artworks.