“Yes, son — I’m afraid, and I’m not ashamed of it.”
A trio of escaped convicts — ringleader Glenn Griffin (Humphrey Bogart), his conflicted younger brother (Dewey Martin), and a portly psychopath (Robert Middleton) — hole up in the home of Mr. Hilliard (Fredric March), his wife (Martha Scott), and their two children (Mary Murphy and Richard Eyer), threatening to kill them if they reveal their presence before the arrival of a package of money from Bogart’s girlfriend. While a local detective (Arthur Kennedy) works on the case of the escaped convicts’ location, Murphy’s boyfriend (Gig Young) grows increasingly suspicious that something isn’t right with his girlfriend.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Arthur Kennedy Films
- Fredric March Films
- Gig Young Films
- Humphrey Bogart Films
- Play Adaptation
- William Wyler Films
Adapted from the novel and Tony-winning play by Joseph Hayes (who based his story loosely on real-life events), this mostly-house-bound thriller remains a well-told cinematic outing, thanks to strong direction by Wyler, atmospheric b&w VistaVision cinematography by Lee Garmes, and a tension-filled script. A chilling interlude involving Middleton and a hapless garbage collector (Walter Baldwin) unlucky enough to stop by the Hilliards’ home on the wrong day shows us the stakes involved for the family: making a wrong move really could prove lethal. Watch for a randomly quirky moment, as a short-order cook laughs nervously at Young after Kennedy gives him his options: “You can hightail it out of here and maybe say a prayer, but nothing else – ya hear me? Nothing.”
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Strong direction by Wyler
- Lee Garmes’ cinematography
No, but it’s recommended as a taut, well-directed thriller.