A young man, morally destroyed by his parents not loving him and by the fear of being not capable to make his girlfriend happy, rises on the ledge of a building with the intention of committing suicide. A policeman makes every effort to argue him out of that.
Paul Douglas ... Police Ofcr. Charlie Dunnigan
Richard Basehart ... Robert Cosick
Barbara Bel Geddes ... Virginia Foster
Debra Paget ... Ruth
Agnes Moorehead ... Christine Hill Cosick
Robert Keith ... Paul E. Cosick
Howard Da Silva ... Deputy Police Chief Moskar (as Howard da Silva)
Jeffrey Hunter ... Danny Klempner
Martin Gabel ... Dr. Strauss
Grace Kelly ... Mrs. Louise Ann Fuller
Frank Faylen ... Walter, room service waiter
Jeff Corey ... Police Sgt. Farley
James Millican ... Police Sgt. Boyle
Donald Randolph ... Dr. Benson
Despite the distinction of being Grace Kelly's first film, (and she is quite good here), this film holds up with the best of the genre. It's one of those films that is incidentally seen by the casual channel surfer and, given five minutes, impossible to turn away from. This film is amazingly innovative in its premise and relies on character, (New York being as important as any other), and story to set the flow and tempo. There are deliciously cunning and unique character moments throughout a film that is, at the same time, full of contrivance and stereotypical sorts. (Do we really need to see another Irish-american policeman being negligent in his duties?). Yet, somehow all the parts equal a very solid whole and a very tense, sharply focussed and surprising film.
If you see this one on late-night tv as you flick through with your remote, be sure to stop and take a look. This one is a definite "yes".
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.
I've watched this film a couple of times on the Fox Movie Channel and I really think it's a pretty good little suspense/drama. Richard Basehart plays a man on the edge who decides to try and end it all perched on the ledge of a Manhattan hotel. The first on the scene is traffic cop Paul Douglas who does his best to try and befriend, comfort and hopefully coax the unbalanced man back inside. The performances are all pretty good though some of the dialogue rings a bit hokey at times. I believe this was also Grace Kelly's first film role. Director Henry Hathaway does a pretty good job of wringing out the drama and suspense and gives the film a nice, big city feel using some pretty impressive sets in the foreground and background. All in all, a pretty enjoyable film
* This film is based on a real life incident which happened 26 July 1938 in New York City. John W. Warde, 26 years of age, leaped seventeen floors to his death from the ledge outside a room at the Hotel Gotham.
* The building used was demolished in 1967, and was replaced by a 52-storey tower called "140 Broadway", noted for its large red cube in the plaza.
* Producer Sol C. Siegel won permission from the New York Police Department to rope off a large section of downtown New York as one extensive "set".
* Except for brief scoring under the main titles and at the film's conclusion, the film has no music.