The Desperate Hours

Theatrical Release: February 16, 1956
DVD Release: June 10, 2003
The Desperate Hours


In this riveting William Wyler thriller, times get desperate, indeed, when three escaped convicts — Glen (Humphrey Bogart), his brother, Hal (Dewey Martin), and Sam (Robert Middleton) — break into a home in a Midwestern suburb and take a family hostage. The family thinks the police is their salvation until it becomes painfully apparent that the appearance of the detectives in their home may make matters much worse.

Dove Review

This is a good watch. Humphrey Bogart is famous for his role in “Casablanca” but he plays a menacing bad guy type very well in this film. It is a nuanced performance as he shows concern for his younger brother, who is helping him and one other convict to hold a family hostage as they hide out at their home after escaping from prison.

The director does a good job, step by step, in keeping the viewer’s attention as the viewer waits to see what is going to happen to the family. There is some violence but it is rather tame compared to today’s films. There might have been one muttered profanity but the subtitles didn’t show it and the word spoken was muffled. Due to the mature theme, it is not a film for children. But it is a well crafted and suspenseful movie which many people, age twelve and above, will enjoy. Considering it was made over fifty years ago, it holds up pretty well. We gladly award this movie our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.

Content Description

Faith: None
Integrity: None
Sex: Kissing by husband and wife; kissing by couple.
Language: There could be one muffled "da_n" but not sure.
Violence: Men punch each other; men shove each other; a man is struck; man shot from behind but scene is not graphic; a police officer is shot up close; another character is shot and dies.
Drugs: Cigar smoking; man with cigar in his mouth and another character takes away a cigar; man with cigarette; drinking of alcohol.
Nudity: None
Other: A family is held hostage and the bad guys constantly threaten them.


Company: Paramount Home Entertainment
Writer: Joseph Hayes
Director: William Wyler
Genre: Classic
Runtime: 112 min.
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter