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The Desperate Hours
The Desperate Hours
Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March, Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin
Director: William Wyler
Genres: Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2003     1hr 52min

Escaped criminals hold a family hostage. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: NR Release Date: 12-DEC-2003 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March, Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin
Director: William Wyler
Creators: Lee Garmes, William Wyler, Robert Swink, Robert Wyler, Joseph Hayes
Genres: Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Classics, Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/10/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/1955
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1955
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 52min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Great Players, some awkward dialogue, great ending
Dom Miliano | Denville, NJ USA | 01/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have been a Bogart fan all my life. He was that rare Hollywood breed so seldom seen today - and actor AND a movie star. In this "little" movie, Bogart and March lock wills - each knowing that the other is dangerous and desperate, each knowing that they both have more than their own lives to lose. They take the conflict to the edge, their hands, virtually at each other's throats in nearly every scene and then find a way to back off to live another day or another hour. In the quiet moments, March stares away from the camera several times, effectively showing the "wheels turning," an action not lost on Bogart. When he catches him at it he says "click-ity, click-ity" and warns him not to try anything. Advice, you know he'll never heed. This movie may not appeal to viewers who have grown up watching shoot-em-ups but movie fans and fans of good acting will find plenty to hold their attention. A few of the bit players, especially the cops, are saddled with hokey 1950's dialog but you'll get over it. The ending is all you could ask for. I suggest you give it a shot."
"Get out . . . Get out of my house . . . "
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If I remember correctly "The Desperate Hours" was originally a stage play that was based on a true story. A photo-magazine ran a spread on either the play or the film with pictures of the "real" house and the family sued for invasion of privacy; one of their lawyers was Richard Nixon. Humphrey Bogart gets top-billing in "The Desperate Hours" as gangster on the lam Glenn Griffin, but this is really Frederic March's film. March plays businessman Dan Hilliard, who discovers his home has been invaded and his family taken hostage by Griffin's little band of criminals, which includes his kid brother Hal (Dewey Martin) and the brutish Sam Kobish (Robert Middleton). That morning Hilliard's biggest concerns had been Chuck Wright (Gig Young), the boyfriend of his daughter Cindy (Mary Murphy), the refusal of young son Ralphie (Richard Eyer) to kiss his old man goodbye, and what wife Eleanor (Martha Scott) is going to make for dinner. Now he has to find a way to keep his family alive in a world where the police are perfectly willing to gun down unarmed criminals so their ability to protect an innocent family is certainly suspect.

This is a taunt drama, carried mostly by the desperation of March's character, who fails every time he tries to prove himself the hero. Bogart's performance is notable because it is a return to the tough guy role that made him a star, only this time showing more restraint than we had seen two decades earlier. This 1955 film also stands as a testament to how much things have changed in Hollywood, because they would never allow for this clean of an ending to this situation, a point that would be obvious even without the horrible remake of this film with Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins, which gives into the perceived need for sadistic violence.

Ultimately what makes this film work is that the climax exceeds our expectations given the set-up. You have to admire how a man can walk into a house with an unloaded gun and save the day. The final confrontation between Hilliard and Griffin is powerful because it speaks to not only the fact that you can hurt somebody without killing them, but also that even when confronted with barbarians there is still virtue in being a civilized man. I still watch the ending of this film every time I stumble across it on television. In fact, I just did."
Great for Bogart fans
Johny Bottom | Jacksonville, NC | 12/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Now this is a great flick. No one played the hard-edged bad guy like Bogie. This flick is old schol, meaning the story depends on the acting and not special effects or overused violence. Bogart, his brother, and a simple minded convict escape prison and hold up in a suberbian 'Beaver-Cleaver' household. They have to hideout there until Bogie gets some dough from his girlfriend. The confrontations between the family and the convicts keep this movie going fluently without a break in drama, suspense, or action. If you've only seen Casablanca or the Maltese Falcon, rent or buy this flick if you like or are interested in Humphrey Bogart."
Top-drawer thriller from Hollywood's 'golden age'
Libretio | 09/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)


(USA - 1955 - black and white)

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (VistaVision)
Theatrical soundtrack: Mono

The patriarch of a middle-class suburban family (Fredric March) is forced to take action when they're held hostage in their own home by three escaped convicts, one of whom (Humphrey Bogart) is an experienced lifer with nothing to lose...

The first and only pairing of superstars Bogart and March is a tightly-wound thriller, written by Joseph Hayes (based on his novel and stageplay, inspired by actual events), and directed by Hollywood veteran William Wyler, distancing himself from the 'women's pictures' he had helped to popularize during the 1940's (THE LITTLE FOXES, MRS. MINIVER, THE HEIRESS etc.). Photographed in gleaming deep-focus VistaVision by Lee Garmes (SCARFACE, THE PARADINE CASE), the movie wrings incredible tension from the claustrophobic settings and frequent stand-offs between staunch family man March and embittered con Bogart. The movie's themes are fairly conservative and the outcome is never really in doubt, but this is a top-drawer thriller from Hollywood's 'golden age'. Also starring Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin and Gig Young in crucial supporting roles. Unmissable.

NB. Though nowhere near as dreadful as most critics would have you believe, Michael Cimino's remake DESPERATE HOURS (1990) isn't a patch on the original.