THE DESPERATE HOURS

(1955)
With Humphrey Bogart, Frederic March, Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin, Gig Young, Mary Murphy, Richard Eyer, Robert Middleton
Directed by William Wyler
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

Don't look at me with that tone of voice!     In the 1950s, with America in the midst of a post-War economic boom, Hollywood worked hard to get citizens scared over things that could destroy their newly peaceful and prosperous lives.  One new sub-genre coming into vogue was the "home invasion" film, in which thugs hijack a house and turn the lives of suburbanites topsy turvy.  1954's SUDDENLY had Frank Sinatra as a Presidential assassin wannabe invading the home of James Gleason.  In THE DESPERATE HOURS, Humphrey Bogart, in his last gangster role, invades the home of Frederic March.  Both films pit the insulated, self-contained world of the post-war suburban family against the criminal outsiders of society. Because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy several years later, SUDDENLY has the historical edge and is more often remembered today.  But THE DESPERATE HOURS still works as a strong, tense thriller with two outstanding lead performers.  Although there are some lapses of logic in the story that chip away at the suspense, THE DESPERATE HOURS is an underrated film in the careers of both great actors, as well as a classic in a genre that is still popular today (FIREWALL, THE PANIC ROOM).

    Not only was this Bogart's last role as a gangster, it was also his next to last film.  A little over a year after 1956's THE HARDER THEY FALL, Hollywood's greatest icon would be dead of cancer. - JB

Humphrey Bogart     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


IS THAT WHO I THINK IT IS?

Robert Middleton, playing the brutish gangster Kobish, will be well-known to fans of the "Lost" Honeymooners episodes as Gotham Bus Company Executive Mr. Marshall, a part he unfortunately did not reprise in the "Classic 39".  Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize the timid driver whose car is hijacked late in the film as character comedian Joe Flynn, later famous as Captain Binghamton on TV's McHale's Navy.


ADD ANOTHER QUOTE AND MAKE IT A GALLON

"Using his brain, is he, Hal?  Look at him. Clickety-clickety-click, I can see it perkin'."


REMAKE

THE DESPERATE HOURS (1990 - with Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins)

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Copyright 2008 John V. Brennan, John Larrabee