The Desperate Hours
Film: The Desperate Hours
Director: William Wyler
Writer: Joseph Hayes
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March and Arthur Kennedy
In this film, we have the nice suburban family, headed by Fredric March, and they go about their day. On the other side we have 3 escaped convicts lead by Humphrey Bogart, in the rare role where he was the bad guy. We also are told early on that a police officer who had originally arrested Bogart, as well breaking his jaw with a pistol whip, works in the area and played by Arthur Kennedy.
While everyone is away, the wife of March, played by Martha Scott, is home by herself going about her daily routine. The criminals surprise her and take her hostage. They begin to go about their plan of making escape from Indianapolis.
The family steadily come home and find out what has become of their once happy home. It becomes a challenge to keep what is happening quiet and to ensure that they keep Bogart and the other criminals happy so they do not kill them. The tension builds as they wait for Bogart’s woman and the money she has. They need it to escape, but can they keep the normal life of the suburban family from interfering and stay hidden while keeping the family alive?
This film isn’t the usual Film Noir, but it still is a solid film to watch. The acting is all done well enough and I didn’t notice any problems there. As I stated above, Bogart plays the bad guy here and that is something he does masterfully in this film. The film also does well at building tension from having a young boy come over to walk to school with the son to a teacher stopping by and a garbage man coming. All the time wondering how they are going to be sent away and what will happen to the family.
The only problem I encountered was a little bit of the believability to the story. The criminals know about the roadblocks and what not, yet they stay inside it. Now I guess it would be ingenious for that, but I don’t know if I buy completely that they would stay as long as they do in a house like this. At one point they are waiting for a letter in the mail and we all know how the fast the mail runs, especially in 1955.
This film is being added to the horror film research due to the fact that a normal family has criminals holding them hostage. They are faced with the dilemma of turning them in and risking their safety. On the other side, they might not survive even they do what they are told. It is a catch-22 that would be difficult to deal with.
With that being said, it is still a good film to view. The acting is solid, the story is okay and the tension is great. If you like Film Noir, it is definitely one to view and if you are Bogart fan, then I’d say watch it as well.
My Rating: 7 out of 10