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Fourteen Hours Reviews

A superb, tense drama, one that studies the crowd as well as the principals, FOURTEEN HOURS allows the considerable talents of Douglas and Basehart to stun and move viewers. Basehart is the emotionally disturbed young man who climbs onto the ledge of a New York skyscraper, threatening to jump to his death if anyone approaches him. Traffic cop Douglas is the only person who somehow reaches Basehart by talking to him about the joys of life, while Basehart shuns all others, including the father he hates (Keith), the mother who has suffocated him (Moorehead), and the girl friend (Bel Geddes). As the hours drag by and morbid crowds collect to watch Basehart go into a death dive, slices of life all around the skyscraper are shown. A young couple, Paget and Hunter, meet and begin a romance while commiserating with Basehart perched high above them. Kelly, in her brief film debut, observes the youth from a neighboring skyscraper where she is preparing to sign divorce papers. His plight causes her to change her mind and make a go of her marriage. A host of characters get into the act, the most effective being Gabel as a police psychiatrist, da Silva as a police lieutenant, and Faylen as a garrulous waiter. But Douglas, in a beautifully understated performance, dominates the film, and Basehart's intensity of jumbled purpose is often spellbinding. At the last minute, when Basehart attempts to make good his suicide threat, he is saved by a police net and hauled to safety. Hathaway's direction is drum-tight as he builds suspense with each scene. The film is based on the suicide of John Warde, who leaped 17 floors to his death on July 26, 1938, from a ledge of the Gotham Hotel after many people, including traffic cop Charles V. Glasco, tried to dissuade him. Nominated for Best Art Direction by the Academy.