Henry Hathaway directed this high-tension drama about a man teetering on the verge of self-destruction and how his dilemma affects those around him. Robert Cosick (Richard Basehart) is a desperate and despondent young man who has never gotten along with his parents (Robert Keith and Agnes Moorehead) and believes his girlfriend Virginia (Barbara Bel Geddes) no longer loves him. Cosick creeps onto the ledge of a skyscraper in downtown New York and threatens to jump; for the next 14 hours, Dunnigan (Paul Douglas), a policeman who was passing by, tries to talk him down, searching for a way to convince him that life is worth living. A crowd forms on the street below as Dunnigan talks with Cosick; Danny (Jeffrey Hunter) and Ruth (Debra Paget) meet as they watch the grim spectacle and discover how much they have in common. Meanwhile, in a building across the street, a young woman about to sign her divorce papers (Grace Kelly) finds herself wondering if she should give up on her marriage so hastily as she watches Cosick debate about throwing away his life. Fourteen Hours marked Grace Kelly's screen debut; Ossie Davis and Brian Keith also appear in small roles. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
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If Thornton Wilder had decided to base his "Our Town" in neurotic New York City, I wonder if the finished product mightn't have gone something like this remarkable film, complete with would-be suicide, a crowd just aching for him to go, cops & cabbies both nice & nasty, a pair of shrinks (decent, smart & helpful, for a change!), a Mommie Dearest & her ineffective hubby, ex-girlfriend, divorcing couple & one pair of sweet young naifs--all turning a particular St. Patrick's Day in early 1950s Manhattan into a ripe piece of sociology that moves like gangbusters & holds up well even today. FOURTEEN HOURS is an ensemble piece anchored by marvelous work from Richard Basehart as the would-be jumper & especially Paul Douglas as a kindly cop who tries to talk him down from his window ledge. The great cast includes Agnes Moorhead, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jeffrey Hunter, Debra Paget (& Grace Kelly's movie debut). Unusually subtle for its time, the movie offers an ending as beautiful as it is reticent
I watched this movie because I wanted to see the first screen performance of Grace Kelly. I have seen ten of her eleven films. She was only in Fourteen Hours for a few minutes, but it was interesting to see her. It was also neat to see Barbara Bel Geddes (loved her in Dallas) and fellow Muskingum alumna Agnes Moorehead.
The movie itself was much more exciting than I thought it would be. I was filled with suspense, wondering if he'd fall or not. I really enjoyed the actor who played the cop. Fourteen Hours is an example of film noir and has optional commentary by a film noir historian.
Highly recommended, listen to the audio stream that describes the story behind the story you're watching, which is well worth doing. If you don't want to miss anything, you won't by clicking on the subtitles. The excellent guide, an expert on film noir, describes the psychology of the various characters, expecially Richard Basehart standing on the ledge and the clues he gives to why he went there, throughout his stay there. The narration stays quiet when you need to hear the characters speak. There's nothing "quaint" about the 1950s, as you'll hear, about the man on the ledge, his mother, father and (sorta) girlfriend, who suddenly understands why he's out there, as the narrator describes her revelation for us. Otherwise, it's as easy to miss as it was for the audience in 1950. You'll come away with a great appreciation for the screenwriter in particular and the film in general. An outstanding and undeservedly unknown film.