YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 20: Fourteen Hours (1951)

Finding Fourteen Hours (1951) was a happy accident.

Before a couple of years ago, I’d never even heard of it before – despite the fact that the cast includes noir vets Richard Basehart, Paul Douglas, Agnes Moorehead, Jeff Corey, and Howard da Silva. I don’t even remember how I happened to stumble across it. But I sure am glad I did.

And until I re-watched this film to prepare for today’s post, I’d completely forgotten how much I loved it, how it grabs you from the first, quiet scene and never turns you loose. There’s so much to see, so much to hear, so much going on.

It’s really good, y’all.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Basehart spent around 500 hours on this ledge during filming.

In its simplest terms, the film is about a despondent man (Richard Basehart) who climbs onto the ledge of a high-rise hotel on St. Patrick’s Day in New York and threatens to jump. But while the young man languishes outside the building, a half-dozen stories, big and small, are taking place, from the group of cabbies who bet on the time the man will end his life, to a budding love affair between strangers who meet in the crowd outside the hotel.

WHAT ELSE?

The movie is reminiscent of Paramount’s Ace in the Hole, released that same year, another noir where a circus-like atmosphere arises from a life-or-death vigil. Like Ace in the Hole, Fourteen Hours was inspired by a real-life incident, in this case a 26-year-old who jumped to his death from the 17th floor of a New York hotel in 1938.

Debra Paget, Jeffrey Hunter, and Joyce Van Patten are among the many familiar performers.

The film is practically overflowing with familiar faces. Sandra Gould, the first Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched. The star of TV’s The Great Gildersleeve, Willard Waterman. Russell Hicks, who had a small but memorable part in The Little Foxes (1941) as the wealthy visitor from Chicago. Frank Faylen, Ernie the cab driver from It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Brad Dexter, from The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and The Magnificent Seven (1960). Martin Gabel, who I knew only from his appearances on What’s My Line, alongside his wife Arlene Frances. Ossie Davis and Harvey Lembeck as cab drivers. And, in their big screen debuts, Grace Kelly, Joyce Van Patten, and Jeffrey Hunter. (The IMDB also says that Brian Keith, John Cassavettes, Richard Beymer, and Leif Ericson are in the film as bit players or extras, but I haven’t been able to spot them. Maybe you can!)

Fourteen Hours was directed by Henry Hathaway, who helmed several noirs including Kiss of Death (1947), Call Northside 777 (1948), and Niagara (1953), and such popular westerns as The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) and True Grit (1969).

TOMORROW . . .

Join me for my next YouTube recommendation on Day 21 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 20, 2020.

6 Responses to “YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 20: Fourteen Hours (1951)”

  1. I’ve been meaning to catch this for ages. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

    My husband on 5-time co-stars Debra Paget and Jeffrey Hunter, “They are too gorgeous for mortal eyes to behold.”

  2. I just watched 14 Hours for the first time & definitely agree with your assessment. A fine little film, although I know Fox labeled it a Film Noir for DVD release, I’m not sure it slots in as one. A film worthy of greater notoriety

    • It’s certainly not your typical film noir – but it wouldn’t be the first. For me, it’s noir because of its dark theme and tone, its tense atmosphere of suspicion and the feeling that things are not going to turn out well. And. of course, it’s rife with cynical, pessimistic characters. It’s the feeling of it that makes it noir.

  3. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this film! Really enjoyed it. And what a remarkable cast of bit players – John Cassavetes, Ossie Davis, and Joyce Van Patten, to name a few.

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