DON’T BOTHER TO KNOCK (director: Roy Ward Baker; screenwriters: Daniel Taradash/based on a novel by Charlotte Armstrong; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editor: George A. Gittens; music: Lionel Newman; cast: Richard Widmark (Jed Towers), Marilyn Monroe (Nell Forbes), Anne Bancroft (Lyn Leslie), Donna Corcoran (Bunny), Jeanne Cagney (Rochelle, switchboard operator), Lurene Tuttle (Mrs. Ruth Jones), Elisha Cook Jr. (Eddie, elevator man), Jim Backus (Peter Jones), Verna Felton (Mrs. Ballew), Don Beddoe (Mr. Ballew), Willis B. Bouchey (Bartender), Gloria Blondell (Girl Photographer), Michael Ross(Pat,House Detective); Runtime: 76; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Julian Blaustein; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1952)
“Wacko psychological thriller.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Wacko psychological thriller, set entirely in a NYC hotel, and helmed without urgency by Roy Ward Baker (“The Vault of Horror”/”Asylum”/”Scars of Dracula“). It lacks emotional depth, but is diverting as it gives off nervous energy and remains watchable throughout. Marilyn Monroe was in 12 previous films, but this was her first co-starring headliner role. Playing someone mentally deranged, Marilyn wonderfully channels how her mentally troubled mom acted and gives a believable performance (she’s the best reason for seeing this forgettable pic).It’s based on a novel by Charlotte Armstrong and is written by Daniel Taradash.
Airline pilot Jed (Richard Widmark) stays at the posh New York hotel where girlfriend Lyn (Anne Bancroft, her film debut) is a singer. Lyn sent Jed a Dear John letter, rejecting him because he’s too cynical and doesn’t care about others. Bored in his room alone, Jed spots the attractive Nell (Marilyn Monroe) in a window opposite his and brings over a bottle to keep her company. Nell fails to tell him she’s the niece of Eddie (Elisha Cook Jr.), the elevator man, who got her a babysitting job to mind the 6-year-old Bunny (Donna Corcoran) for Mr. and Mrs. Jones (Jim Backus & Lurene Tuttle), while the couple attends a tribute in the hotel ballroom for hubby. Nell dresses in Mrs. Jones’ fancy lace negligee, as well as pouring on herself Mrs. Jones’ expensive perfume. When Jed reveals he’s a pilot and served as a bombardier during the war, Nell tries to seduce him because he reminds her of her dead wartime pilot boyfriend, killed over the Pacific. When Bunny wakes up and Jed learns that Nell is really not a hotel guest but working as a baby-sitter, he realizes her actions are strange, he splits to try and win back Lyn. Realizing something is not right with Nell, Jed returns to the room and finds the suicidal Nell has tied Bunny up. From Eddie, it’s learned that Nell spent three years in an Oregon mental institution and was released a month ago to live with him. In the hotel lobby, Jed disarms a crazed Nell of her razor, which she threatens to use on herself. She’s then taken away by NY’s finest to a NYC asylum. It’s presumed she will get better treatment here than from the asylum out West, as she becomes an afterthought as Jed rejoices that he won back Lyn. She’s now convinced Jed has an understanding heart.
REVIEWED ON 2/15/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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