Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don’t Bother To Knock. 1952

 Don’t bother or do bother with this one because it features Marilyn Monroe doing a pretty good turn as a demented gal just out of the nut house who finds a job as a babysitter in a New York City hotel. The job is set up by her uncle an elevator operator at the hotel played by the always welcomed Elisa Cook Jr. ( I would like to get a gander at Sr. sometime). 1952 was a busy black and white year for Marilyn she did four movies and was on the cusp of super duper stardom only a year away with three big full color flicks the best one being “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. Seeing this film now many years after its release is a bit unsettling to say the least because we watch this troubled and doomed actress and future pop icon playing a troubled and doomed character much like herself.  The plot of the film centers on Richard Widmark an airline pilot who is mad for Anne Bancroft a chanteuse who sings for her super in the hotel’s bar which for some reason has a cowboy western motif. Anne is not happy with Widmark and wants out of the relationship because Richard can’t give her the emotional stuff that she needs. This was Bancroft’s film debut and supposedly she does her own singing in it, but after a series of less than stellar films (Gorilla At Large is probably the silliest) she packed her bags and left Hollywood in 1957 to go to Broadway not to return to tinsel town until 1962 when she recreated her role in The Miracle Worker. Marilyn meanwhile is upstairs watching over and terrorizing Donna Corcoran  who might be the most annoying child actress in the history of film, and flirting with Richard Widmark who on the rebound from Bancroft sees Marilyn from his hotel window across the way and is over there in a flash, hot to trot. Marilyn is having fun trying on the kid’s mom’s negligee (the mother played by the very good Laurene Tuttle would never fit into or wear such a revealing outfit) throwing lots of perfume all over herself and giving her uncle a nervous breakdown as he watches her disintegrate before his very eyes. The movie is ugly, cheap looking and claustrophobic with the entire film taking place in the hotel without one exterior shot to give us the feeling that we are in New York City. The direction is by the British director  Roy Ward Baker who a few years later would go on to do the very good version of the Titanic story “A Night To Remember” and many horror films, but his direction here is nothing more than adequate. With Jim Backus as Tuttle’s husband  and dad of the little imp and Verna Feldon and Don Beddoe as two nosey hotel guests. The cinematography is by Lucien Ballard.    


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