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Film noir, a classic film style of the 40s and 50s, is noted for its dark themes, stark camera angles and high-contrast lighting. Comprising many of Hollywoods finest films, film noir tells realistic stories about crime, mystery, femmes fatales and conflict.
This compelling suspense drama spends its time with a tormented young man (Richard Basehart) as he teeters on a New York hotels 15th floor window ledge, deciding whether or not to jump. Paul Douglas plays a traffic cop, the first officer on the scene, and through his gentle, compassionate talk, he becomes the only one the man on the ledge trusts. He certainly doesnt trust his mother (Agnes Moorehead) or ex-fiancée (Barbara Bel Geddes). The crowd below is mesmerized and for some, the fourteen hours that follow will change their lives forever. This film is notable for the film debut of Grace Kelly in a small role.
"There's a jumper on the ledge...." And so, after a wordless opening sequence, begins Fourteen Hours, a taut thriller about a would-be suicide standing outside his hotel-room window on St. Patrick's Day. The jumper, nervously played by Richard Basehart, is counseled by a gallery of interested parties, including a beat cop (Paul Douglas) and the man's divorced parents (Agnes Moorehead and Robert Keith) and fiancée (Barbara Bel Geddes). Psychiatrist Martin Gabel provides some Freudian analysis of the situation. Along with the drama on the ledge, the film cruises through the reactions of the crowd below, from concerned to cynical. Among the huge ensemble are a surprising gallery of faces, including up-and-comers Grace Kelly, Jeffrey Hunter, and Debra Paget. Howard Da Silva is a cop, and Ossie Davis and Harvey Lembeck (both uncredited) are cab drivers. Director Henry Hathaway had made some of the Fox film noirs emphasizing realism and authentic location shooting (House on 92nd Street, Call Northside 777), and he takes a similar approach to the flavorful Manhattan sites here--albeit mostly within a one-block area. The movie's ticking-clock momentum holds up well, even if some of the social-concern material feels dated. And when you can cut to a vertiginous angle every few minutes, suspense is practically guaranteed. --Robert Horton
- Commentary by film historian Foster Hirsch
- Interactive pressbook gallery
- Film noir trailers
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The screenplay was written by John Paxton, based on an article by Joel Sayre in The New Yorker, and was directed by Henry Hathaway. It co-starred Barbara Bel Geddes, and was the first movie for both Grace Kelly and Jeffrey Hunter, who have supporting roles.
There s some interesting multi-character drama in this piece cutting between the dramas on the Hotel window ledge, taxi drivers in the street, the cops trying to get Richard Basehart to come down, the despondent, dominant mother and the father who previously left, the fiancé, a potential divorcee who eventually patches things up with her husband and a young couple who meet out in the street watching the events unfold in the crowd.. It is obvious the screenwriters considered the Window Ledge drama contained too little drama to sustain the suspense and tension for a complete movie and so expanded the story to include minor characters surrounding this story with their own stories all of which link into the main story in some way..
I've always been intrigued by this kind of story with this kind of premise.. There aren't many of these types of movies around with this kind of main premise, its pretty unique and for that alone this oddity is well worth adding to your collection.. Some great photography in this too.. Great little movie...
I find the filming to be exceptional; the location shots adding great credibility to the story. Great movie!