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

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Marilyn Monroe
DON'T BOTHER TO KNOCK (1952). Director: Roy Ward Baker. Based on the novel "Mischief" by Charlotte Armstrong.

Eddie Forbes (Elisha Cook Jr.) is an elevator operator at Manhattan's McKinley Hotel who wishes he had never let his niece, Nell (Marilyn Monroe), babysit for the young daughter of guests Peter and Ruth Jones (Jim Backus and Lurene Tuttle of The Manitou). For Nell has been disturbed ever since the man she loved died at sea in a plane crash. It doesn't help that she encounters a pilot named Jed Towers (Richard Widmark), whose girlfriend, Lyn (Anne Bancroft of Gorilla At Large) told him to take a hike because she not only feels they have no future but finds him essentially cold. Confusing Jed with the dead man, Nell becomes increasingly unraveled and things look more and more dangerous for her and the little girl (Donna Corcoran) and possibly Jed as well ... Marilyn Monroe is given a pretty tough assignment to play an emotionally disturbed, indeed mentally ill woman in this, and her performance ranges from some quietly effective moments to the occasionally embarrassing one; but all in all she's good and may even manage to wrangle a tear or two from some viewers. Bancroft and Widmark are excellent, and there is also notable work from young Corcoran, as well as Verna Felton (the stern maid on I Love Lucy) and Don Beddoe, as a nosy hotel guest and her husband. Gloria Blondell is a nightclub photographer, Jeanne Cagney plays a telephone operator, and Michael Ross [Attack of the 50 Foot Woman] is the house dick.  The ending to this is rather moving, and none of the major characters are untouched by the experience. This was released by Twentieth Century Fox with big-name leads, but it's essentially a "B" movie with a short running time. 

Verdict: Sad story of a grieving, neurotic woman disguised as a competent little thriller. ***. 


angelman66 said...

Excellent review of that little-known B-noir starring Marilyn Monroe...interesting film that I enjoy watching every time it comes on. Love the character performers including Elisha Cook from Maltese Flacon and Rosemary's Baby, and Lurene Tuttle. Widmark is solid, as is the ultra glamorous young Anne Bancroft, and Monroe actually pulls off her difficult and potentially over over the top role.
Thanks for covering this little gem, Bill!

William said...

My pleasure, Chris. I only saw this once many years ago and had been meaning to revisit it for quite a while, and it just popped up -- or popped out -- on my video folder a couple of weeks ago. Rather an interesting picture, and I love Monroe with her unique sexy way of speaking in just about anything!