After escaping from prison, Glenn Griffin, his brother Hal and a third inmate Sam Kobish randomly select a house in a well-to-do suburb of Indianapolis in which to hide out. The home belongs to the Hilliard family, Dan and Ellie who live there with their 19-year old daughter Cindy and their young son Ralph. They plan on staying only until midnight as Griffin is awaiting his girlfriend who will meet them with some money he had stashed away. When she doesn't arrive, their stay stretches out to several days. Dan Hilliard plays their game knowing that if he makes any attempt to contact the police, his family could be caught in the crossfire.Written by
Bogart and pals escape from prison and hide out in a suburban home. There they hold the parents and two children hostage. The father (March) quietly plots a plan and slowly takes control of the situation.
The film certainly does have it's minuses. The plot is too general in nature and too sanitized. The crooks don't seem too smart or sophisticated. They never seem very menacing and seem completely out of control not only with the family, but even amongst themselves. Things seem to unravel for them at almost predictable intervals making the suspense rather minimal. They also make some glaring tactical errors. Having the family move around freely and talk amongst themselves upstairs while the bad guys 'stand guard' downstairs seems stupid. It's almost like asking them to come up with an escape plan.
Bogie is one terrific actor who can be very adept at creating dark characters just catch his performance in TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE. Yet here, despite his best efforts, he comes across as being bland. This is mainly due to all the problems mentioned above.
On the plus side is the fact that the film is very methodically paced and builds to a good climax. The interior of the house is well designed. The staging is excellent and allows for some good dramatic shots. The neighborhood exterior is also very detailed. March gives a powerhouse performance and his confrontations with Bogart are excellent.
If you can get past the stilted 50's lingo and sensibilities then you may find that this film still has some impact. Little Ralphie is one the most endearing child characters you'll see. He is cute but very feisty and daring especially with the bad guys. If you look quickly you can also see Joe Flynn, in a very early role, as a driver of a hijacked car.
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