The Desperate Hours (William Wyler, 1955)

Maybe I was just spoiled watching “In Cold Blood” the other night, ‘cuz frankly nothing could compete with that movie’s portrayal of a home invasion, so maybe I just instinctually compared “The Desperate Hours” to that movie, but even then, this pretty much failed in every way that even the relatively short home invasion scene from “In Cold Blood” succeeded.  Bogart hammed it up to no end, and not even enjoyably a la Sierra Madre, and by this point was way, way too old for this kind of brutal tough guy role.  Otherwise, the acting stunk, and the character types were predictable (Bogart the no-nonsense lead tough guy, holding the family hostage with the stock ‘fat idiot one’ and ‘young sympathetic one’, and the family that might as well be the Cleavers’ neighbors, right down to the precocious kid whose inquisitiveness causes trouble).  At least the story went in a bit of an unexpected direction late, as the father or the daughter were actually allowed to leave the house to avoid suspicion and get a critical package for the thugs (although are we really supposed to believe that the father felt obligated to still have the specter of a geriatric Humphrey Bogart hanging over his head even when he’s feigning his everyday lives outside of the house, safely out of harm’s way, even when the rest of the family’s still trapped in the house?  GO TO THE FUCKING POLICE ALREADY), a lot of the story unexpectedly took place away from the house so that it wasn’t a complete hostage-taking cliché-fest, and the fate of the crooks at least strayed a little from what you’d expect from these stock character types, but otherwise, nothing to write home about.  This movie was a shade under two hours long but felt like four, and even with the somewhat unexpected direction the story takes (and to its credit, it did get a bit tense as it approached the climax), it felt incredibly circuitous and repetitive (Bogart snarls, wife cowers, little kid says something bold and adorable, dad tells his family to do what the thugs say, fat thug does something stupid, young thug tells Bogart that he’s taking things too far, repeat), and the fate of everyone in this Norman Rockwell painting was rarely in doubt.  Had its moments, but other captive movies a la “In Cold Blood” and even “Key Largo” just had many, many more moments.



No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: