14 Hours Henry Hathaway

Warning: despite being a "Fox Film Noir” title, this movie isn’t really noir at all. But never mind that, as it manages to deliver the goods in ways that wouldn’t be possible in a current Hollywood offering. The titular 14 hours are spent with Robert Cosick (Richard Basehart), who perches himself on a ledge and threatens to jump. Rushing to his aid is beat cop Charlie Dunnigan (Paul Douglas), who, after his early interventions, becomes the only person Cosick trusts, and with the conniving police and cold fish psychiatrists on the case, who wouldn’t? Thus the film becomes an attempt to unravel why the man wants to jump and how he can be coaxed off the ledge, with Dunnigan caught between the rock of befriending Cosick and the hard place of the authorities attempting to catch the jumper. The open-ended narrative doesn’t build to a climax and is content to examine the ebb and flow of time, as various strategies are tried and several onlookers contribute subplots. To be sure, this isn’t an exact science — there’s some fairly thin psychobabble, a "blame mom” element to the jumper’s neuroses and some underwhelming intrigue with those rubberneckers in the street — but overlook the occasional gaffe and the film is surprisingly involving. Douglas nails his kindly cop character and Basehart looks exactly like his thwarted, nebbish part. Vertigo’s Barbara Bel Geddes is also on hand as the girl who loves the man on the ledge. Expecting a masterpiece is too much but this is a solid film nonetheless that’s structurally quite daring for its time. Extras include a limp commentary by expert Foster Hirsch and an interactive press book gallery. (Fox)