Fourteen Hours

FOURTEENHOURSposterBBB.5

(out of 5)


Strangely absorbing melodrama that features terrific performances and also marks the debut of  in a minor role. A traffic cop () finds himself pulled into the eye of the tornado when he looks up at a New York hotel and sees a man () about to jump from the ledge. Immediately going to the man’s room and trying to talk him down, Douglas ends up being the intended suicide’s main conduit to a whole host of police officers, psychiatrists, reporters and estranged family members, everyone determined to prevent him from killing himself. Crowds gather below (including  trying to pick up ), while others watch from their windows (Kelly in her divorce lawyer’s office), the populace a combination of terrified sympathy and juicy curiosity, while the authorities are a creepy ambivalence between the care of a society looking to protect a lost lamb and an effort to have authoritative control over all lives. Despite the circus engendered by the situation, the film wisely focuses on the interaction between this lost young man (which, when played by Basehart, becomes a deeply sympathetic portrait) and the tough cop with his blue-collar stereotyped platitudes. By the time they introduce the issues with the victim’s mother (an overwrought ) and troubles with his girlfriend (), the film threatens to go the route of all fifties films that incorporate psychological exploration into their scripts, with direct explanations for all troubles that are neatly resolved. Yet something extraordinary happens by this film’s end: difficult questions are not fully answered, and life does not go on restored to the wholeness that it began with at the opening. It’s pretty dated and clichéd, but not nearly as much as it could be, and the excellent backdrops and rear-projection photography make for a richly visual sensation that heightens the drama to terrific effect.


USA, 1951

Directed by Henry Hathaway

Story by , Screenplay by 

Cinematography by 

Produced by

Music by

Production Design by ,

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Film Festivals:  Venice 1951


Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Academy Award Nomination
Best Art Direction (Black-and-White) (art direction: Lyle Wheeler, Leland Fuller; set decoration: Thomas Little, Fred J. Rode)

National Board Of Review Awards
Best Actor (Richard Basehart)
Top Ten Films

Writers Guild Award Nomination
Best Written American Drama

British Academy Award Nomination
Best Film From Any Source


FourteenHours

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