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COUNT THE HOURS (director: Don Siegel; screenwriters: story by Doane R. Hoag/Karen DeWolf; cinematographer: John Alton; editor: James Leicester; music: Louis Forbes; cast: Teresa Wright (Ellen Braden), MacDonald Carey (Doug Madison), John Craven (George Braden), Jack Elam (Max Verne), Edgar Barrier (DA Gillespie), Dolores Moran (Paula Mitchener), Ralph Sanford (Taylor), Paul Hoffman (Diver), Adele Mara (Gracie); Runtime: 76; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Benedict E. Bogeaus; RKO; 1953)
“An unconvincing crime thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An unconvincing crime thriller directed by Don Siegel (“Hell is for Heroes”), adapted to the screen by Karen DeWolf from a story by Doane R. Hoag. Besides the plot line being illogical, the acting was stiff.

In an undisclosed location, migrant farmer George Braden (John Craven) is accused of robbing and killing his boss and a woman who tried to stop him. George and his wife Ellen (Teresa Wright) have worked on the farm for a month and are strangers to the area; they live nearby where the crime took place. The police suspect George when he tells them he heard the shots at night but didn’t react because he thought it came from possum hunters. Not wanting to get involved, George foolishly lies to the police about owning a gun. After police grill him George admits to owning a gun, but his wife wishing to help throws it in the lake. That’s enough evidence to arrest George for murder, as divers can’t recover it.

Doug Madison (MacDonald Carey) reluctantly takes the case as public defender. After talking with Ellen, Doug becomes convinced that George is innocent. But since the murder weapon was never found, George is convicted and sentenced to die. In his struggles to save the migrant worker from the gallows, Doug’s wealthy marriage-minded girlfriend Paula becomes displeased he spends so little time with her that their relationship becomes bumpy. Also, the locals react unfavorably to Doug defending an outsider against one of their own — so he can’t get any more clients for his lawyer practice.

Despite things going against Doug, he sticks with his client. After losing an appeal, he discovers that another migrant worker, Max Verne (Jack Elam), an alcoholic psycho, previously threatened the victim after being fired. Doug tries to get enough evidence in time to save his client’s life.

This miscarriage of justice story never had any tension or seemed believable, though it was efficiently directed.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”