Fourteen Hours (1951)

Approved   |    |  Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller


Fourteen Hours (1951) Poster

An unhappy man threatens suicide by standing on the ledge of a high-rise building for 14 hours.


7.1/10
2,215

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Director:

Henry Hathaway

Writers:

John Paxton (screenplay), Joel Sayre (story)

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9 January 2007 | Handlinghandel
8
| Absolutely Superb -- and What a Cast!
If I were in emotional distress, I would want someone like Paul Douglas to try to help me out. He was one of the best actors in Hollywood during his too-shirt career. Here he is superb as a compassionate traffic cop.

Richard Basehart plays a man threatening to jump from the ledge on a high floor of a hotel. Basehart was another of the best actors of the late 1940 and the fifties. He pulls off an almost totally stationary role very well. This is particularly intriguing given his vibrant, physical performance in "La Strada" a few years after this.

I had never heard of "Fourteen Hours" till it appeared at my neighborhood video store yesterday. Now, it is one of my top noirs. And that is saying a great deal.

Agnes Moorehead, another superb performer of the period, plays Basehart's mother. She engages in the same sorts of hysterics that are so memorable in "Citizen Kane" and particularly in "The Magnificent Ambersons." It's a very fine performance. What a shame that to the degree that she is known at all today, she is primarily known for her (admittedly mildly amusing role in the "Bewitched" series! Robert Keith is just the kind of father (in this role) who might have a confused, possibility suicidal son. Here he plays a mousy businessman. Two decades later, he was to be memorable in a totally different kind of role, in Don Siegel's "The Lineup"! Debra Paget is very appealing in a very small role that gets her fourth billing. Jeffrey Hunter is likable as the man in the crowd outside the hotel who falls for her.

This was Grace Kelly's first film role. She looks gorgeous and seems very poised. Her store, that of an onlooker on her way to divorcing her husband, is extraneous. Yes, it sets up a different kind of relationship to others and to the world from what the Basehart character has. But it is far from integral.

Barbara Bel Geddes is very likable as the girl who loves Basehart. She has a small but very significant role.

The movie is very sad. In a way, it is as if Tennessee Williams had written a very fine script for a thriller. We like many of the characters and are put off by others. But we're deeply moved by what goes on.

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