Film noir, a classic film style of the ?40s and ?50s, is noted for its dark themes, stark camera angles and high-contrast lighting. Comprising many of Hollywood?s finest films, film noir tells realistic stories about crime... more », mystery, femmes fatales and conflict. This compelling suspense drama spends its time with a tormented young man (Richard Basehart) as he teeters on a New York hotel?s 15th floor window ledge, deciding whether or not to jump. Paul Douglas plays a traffic cop, the first officer on the scene, and through his gentle, compassionate talk, he becomes the only one the man on the ledge trusts. He certainly doesn?t trust his mother (Agnes Moorehead) or ex-fiancée (Barbara Bel Geddes). The crowd below is mesmerized and for some, the fourteen hours that follow will change their lives forever. This film is notable for the film debut of Grace Kelly in a small role.« less
"The-man-on-the-ledge theme has been used in movies and on TV so often over the years that it has surely reached cliche status by now. Director Henry Hathaway, however, in FOURTEEN HOURS (1951) guides the drama and urban tensions with such sure-handed craftsmanship, that this ledge jumper based film has remained almost as powerfully involving and suspenseful today as it was 55 years ago. Furthermore, Hathaway gives FOURTEEN HOURS a master's touch by utilizing his own established and innovative semidocumentary style (see THE HOUSE ON 92nd STREET (1945); KISS OF DEATH (1947)). Thus, FOURTEEN HOURS, with its low-keyed black-and-white cinematography, effectively captures a segment of Manhattan's dramatically restless urban world in moody noir fashion. And in addition, strong performances abound. Especially noteworthy is Richard Basehart (the cause of all the commotion) as the disturbed 14hr. ledge occupant way way up on the fifteenth floor of a Manhattan hotel on St. Patrick's Day. (Actually, all this is based on a true incident; the film realistically depicts the sensationalistic media frenzy surrounding the event, with news-starved reporters everywhere, and some crude, insensitive behavior by numerous spectators). Paul Douglas likewise shines in his role as a traffic cop who tries to keep Basehart from jumping. Also, Barbara Bel Geddes is impressive (and eloquently gentle) as Basehart's former fiancee. The many-faceted spectator emotions (some quite strong) on the street and surroundings set other little dramas in motion. Here even Grace Kelly makes her film debut, as a maritally unhappy spectator observing and reacting to Basehart's plight above. Debra Paget and Jeffrey Hunter are also nearby.
By all means, add this fascinating and strongly fatalistic noir to your collection. Here are 5 stars to welcome its DVD appearance in such excellent condition. "
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 09/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This cinema-verite account of a man hovering on the ledge of a high story New York hotel works on all cylinders. Director Henry Hathaway masterfully weaves all the threads of the ensuing circus flawlessly. From the police operation, the media hordes, the curiousity seekers on the ground, and ultimately to the scenes on the ledge we are kept enthralled throughout. The film that this one brought to my mind is "Dog Day Afternoon" in it's portrayal of a media circus. For this type of film to work there has to be a certain suspension of disbelief. Despite the presence of some well known actors(Paul Douglas, Richard Basehart, Agnes Moorehead, Barbara Bel Geddes, et al) we are so caught up in the emotions of the events that we are led to believe them as real people. Film is also of interest for some up-and-coming actors who blend seemlessly into the fabric of the film(Grace Kelly, Jeffrey Hunter, Ossie Davis, Harvey Lembeck). "Fourteen Hours" definitely rates as an unqualified success."
Marvin B. Kujawski | nyc | 04/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a great example of film noir. Paul Douglas gives his usual rock-solid performance and the supporting cast is excellant; Agnes Moorehead and Jeff Corey in particular and Barbara Bel Geddes' performance is intregal but it is the great Richard Basehart that drives this movie. His performance is poignant,expressive,exciting and intense; truely remarkable! I find the filming to be exceptional; the location shots adding great credibility to the story. Great movie!"
Great acting by Basehart
S. Rosine | 03/31/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) is the man on the ledge. I thought he gave a great performance throughout. I didn't really care for the psychology bit, but that doesn't take up much of the movie. A few cuts to other things going on down on the street and in a building across the way (with Grace Kelly) add to the movie. Some film noir moments, but I don't know if I'd label it as film noir. Overall I enjoyed it and will definitely keep it in my collection and watch it more than once."
Briskly paced and very intense; this is one you'd do well to
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 03/03/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"`Fourteen Hours' is a far better film than one might think it to be. It reminds me a tad of `Phone Booth' in that it rarely leaves the small confines of a particular area, and it stars really only two people (sure there are other actors, but their roles are limited to a few select scenes); and like `Phone Booth', it is never boring.
The film tells of a man named Robert Cosick who causes an uproar on St. Patrick's Day when he decides to attempt suicide by jumping out of his hotel window. Before he can plummet though, he is spotted and a traffic cop makes his way to his room to try and coax him down. Robert is shaky and nervous and dangerously unnerved, but the cop, Charlie, is calming and gentle. When Robert makes it clear he'll talk to no one but Charlie, Charlie winds up spending the next fourteen hours trying desperately to find out why this man is trying to kill himself and how he can work to prevent it.
I won't lie to you; this is a film that does feel a little dated. The way in which the try and rescue Robert is a little out of date; but when you look at the film in the whole context of `this was made in the 50's' then you can easily look past that dated material.
In fact; the script is the films brightest moment.
The acting is spotty here though. The two leads are at total opposite spectrums here. It reminds me of `Strangers on a Train' in the fact that one lead is flawlessly captivating and the other is just off; totally. Paul Douglas nails his portrayal of Police Officer Charlie Dunnigan. He has this natural charm and grace that makes his character easy to listen to and easy to love. It's no wonder that Robert only wants to deal with Charlie. He exudes this genuineness that draws you to him. Richard Basehart on the other hand is so mechanical he's off putting. All his ticks and shakes and heavy handed depression just seems so fake to the viewer. I only wish he had the same natural progression of character that Douglas had.
The supporting cast is hit or miss as well. Barbara Bel Geddes and Agnes Moorehead have two very different characters and they both handle them rather well. Moorehead especially is effective as Robert's attention hungry mother. I thought that Robert Keith was slightly bland as Robert's `never there' father Paul, but he isn't really given that much to work with.
The nice thing about the script is that it touches upon how one outlandish act can bring a lot of people together and change their outlook on life in general. On the ground, as the crowd watching the spectacle grows, we are given a glimpse at love blossoming amidst the nervous curiosity; and we even see a marriage on the rocks given new life as the party ponders the blessing that life really is. It's subtle and it could have been developed a little better (and deeper) but it's a nice touch that adds an extra layer to the film. I also like the fact that, while Robert's life is explored and explained, his intentions for killing himself are never truly revealed. The ambiguity adds a sharp realization that sometimes it's something very small and seemingly insignificant that can make us feel like we cannot go on.
It can affect anyone at just about anytime.
The film is very well done and nicely crafted. If only both leads were as dynamically effective as Douglas this could have been a near perfect movie. Still, it is very enjoyable, tense and memorable. It's one of those movies you've probably never heard of but should seek out.