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Don't Bother To Knock

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    Ian Jane
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  • Don't Bother To Knock



    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: March 27th, 2018.
    Director: Roy Ward Baker
    Cast: Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Bancroft, Elisha Cook Jr. Donna Corcoran, Lurene Tuttle, Jim Backus
    Year: 1952
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    The first American film to be directed by Roy Ward Baker and the big screen debut of Anne Bancroft, 1952's Don't Bother To Knock introduces us to a beautiful young woman named Nell Forbes who has recently arrived in New York City to stay with her uncle, Eddie Forbes (Elisha Cook Jr.). Eddie works as an elevator operator at a fancy Manhattan hotel. When two of the hotel's guests - a newspaper editorial writer named Peter Jones (Jim Backus) and his wife Ruth (Lurene Tuttle) - need a sitter for the night to watch their daughter Bunny (Donna Corcoran), Eddie figures Nell will be right for the job. After all, the Jones' are simply attending a gathering held down on the ground floor of the hotel. What could go wrong?

    Elsewhere, a pilot named Jed Towers (Richard Widmark) has arrived at the hotel hoping to patch things up with Lyn Lesley (Bancroft) who works in the hotel bar as a singer. She broke it off with him not because he wouldn't marry her but because she never got the impression he cared much about anyone but himself. His hopes dashed, he heads back to his room with a bottle of rye, peers through the window and spies Nell parading about in a negligee by herself, figures out her room number and gives her a call. She invites him over (and oddly when he gets to her room he does, in fact, knock!), and it all goes downhill from there…

    A tight seventy-six-minute dramatic thriller with some enjoyable noir-ish touches to it, Don't Bother To Knock is quite well done. The entire thing takes place in real time and the action never leaves the hotel (which was not an actual hotel but a studio set), which probably helped to keep the budget modest, but Baker shows excellent control over the film's pacing. The cinematography from Lucien Ballard (who would go on to shoot The Wild Bunch, Junior Bonner, Ride The High Country, The Getaway and The Ballad Of Cable Hogue for Peckinpah) is quite strong. Lionel Newman's score is a bit over the top in spots but it suits the story well enough.

    What makes the movie, however, are the performances. Jim Backus (who will forever be Thurston Howell III to many of us!) and Lurene Tuttle are pretty decent as the parents, and Donna Corcoran makes for a reasonably sympathetic plot device - she doesn't have much character and is more or less just a generic 'kid' but she's fine in her important part. Elisha Cook Jr. is great as Nell's uncle, Eddie. He's likeable but also able to be surprisingly stern towards the end of the picture. Not surprisingly though, it's Widmark and Monroe who really stand out. Widmark is his typically charming self in the picture, the character that he plays suits his traits quite well and he fits in nicely here. Monroe delivers what is probably the best dramatic work of her career. Those used to seeing her play the 'ditsy blonde' stereotype that she helped create should be impressed with her work here and how much range she shows. The fact that she looks gorgeous never hurts, but she makes Nell into a really interesting and believable character, enough so that we can see not just why Widmark's character would be attracted to her, but also why he'd be taken aback by her once he starts to get to know her.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Don't Bother To Knock looks excellent in this AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer from Twilight Time. The 1.33.1 fullframe image shows excellent detail throughout and the picture is practically pristine. Grain appears naturally, as it should, but there's almost no print damage here at all. Black levels are nice and deep and we get crisp, clean whites and a nice greyscale. There are no noticeable issues with any compression artifacts, nor are there any problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement. All in all, this is a very impressive image.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track on the disc is also fine. Dialogue is clean and easy enough to follow, levels are properly balanced and the track is free of any audible hiss or distortion. The sometimes very dramatic score rises up nicely when the movie calls for it, and with a reasonable amount of depth to it. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Aside from a theatrical trailer (“Marilyn Monroe is… every inch a woman - and every inch an actress!”) and an isolated score option, the disc also contains Marilyn Monroe: The Mortal Goddess and Richard Widmark: Strength of Characters. Both of these are interesting Biograpy episodes that do a great job of detailing each performer's life and times with plenty of archival clips and interviews from various participants. As such, they're both worthy additions to the disc.

    Menus and chapter selection are also included. Inside the disc is a color insert booklet that contains some archival images as well as an essay from Julie Kirgo that does a good job of talking up Monroe's performance and reported on set behavior.

    The Final Word:

    Don't Bother To Knock is a well-made thriller with some great performances from its supporting players and especially its two leads. It's tightly paced and quite engaging. Twilight Time's Blu-ray release contains some nice extra features and on top of that it looks fantastic. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





























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