Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Richard Basehart and Robert Keith
FOURTEEN HOURS (1951). Director: Henry Hathaway.

A troubled and emotionally disturbed man, Robert Cosick (Richard Basehart), climbs out on a ledge of a New York City hotel and refuses to leave. No one -- not his ex-fiancee (Barbara Bel Geddes), mother (Agnes Moorehead), father (Robert Keith), or a traffic cop named Dunnigan (Paul Douglas) -- can coax him to come inside as others try to figure out who he is and what's upsetting him. Fourteen Hours is well-photographed and well-acted -- Douglas is especially outstanding -- but neither its characters nor psychological undertones are developed in any compelling fashion, and as a thriller it only works sporadically. The big climax is disappointing as well. Still, it holds the attention and has some exciting moments even though it fails to sustain the tension of the situation. (Part of the trouble is that you sense Cosick's problems aren't all that severe. Some feel that he is a gay man struggling with his sexuality in a less-enlightened time period, and while that might certainly fit, the film itself doesn't really explore or confirm this.) Grace Kelly plays a woman in a divorce lawyer's office in a building across the way, while Jeffrey Hunter makes time with another woman (Debra Paget?) down in the crowd -- these unnecessary side stories are not well-integrated into the plot. (The lady Hunter is interested in seems to have concern for Cosick, but why would she actually want to be there to see it if he jumped?) Howard Da Silva plays a testy police chief.

Verdict: Okay suspense film with some good performances. **1/2.

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