Fourteen Hours (1951)

91-92 mins | Drama | April 1951

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Man on the Ledge . At the film's end, the following written statement appears: "Out of past experience, the emergency rescue squad of the New York Police has developed techniques to deal with problems of this nature quietly, quickly and efficiently. For their expert advice and cooperation in the filming of this picture we are particularly grateful." Although the onscreen credits contain a standard indemnification statement asserting that the film and characters depicted are "entirely fictional," Joel Sayre's short story and the picture were based on the suicide of John William Warde. [Indemnification statements rarely appeared on Twentieth Century-Fox films at the time.] The twenty-six-year-old Warde jumped from the seventeenth floor of a New York City hotel on 26 Jul 1938 after a protracted attempt by police to save him. The character of "Charlie Dunnigan" was based on Charles V. Glasco, a real-life New York City policeman who tried to coax Warde inside.
       According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio changed the film's title from The Man on the Ledge to Fourteen Hours after Warde's mother requested that they change the title so that the picture would not be as closely identified with her son. In a 3 Nov 1940 memo, studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck speculated that they would have to change the film's locale to Chicago or Philadelphia to further distance it from the Warde suicide, but the released film is set in New York.
       Although the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also located ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Man on the Ledge . At the film's end, the following written statement appears: "Out of past experience, the emergency rescue squad of the New York Police has developed techniques to deal with problems of this nature quietly, quickly and efficiently. For their expert advice and cooperation in the filming of this picture we are particularly grateful." Although the onscreen credits contain a standard indemnification statement asserting that the film and characters depicted are "entirely fictional," Joel Sayre's short story and the picture were based on the suicide of John William Warde. [Indemnification statements rarely appeared on Twentieth Century-Fox films at the time.] The twenty-six-year-old Warde jumped from the seventeenth floor of a New York City hotel on 26 Jul 1938 after a protracted attempt by police to save him. The character of "Charlie Dunnigan" was based on Charles V. Glasco, a real-life New York City policeman who tried to coax Warde inside.
       According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio changed the film's title from The Man on the Ledge to Fourteen Hours after Warde's mother requested that they change the title so that the picture would not be as closely identified with her son. In a 3 Nov 1940 memo, studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck speculated that they would have to change the film's locale to Chicago or Philadelphia to further distance it from the Warde suicide, but the released film is set in New York.
       Although the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also located at UCLA, contains drafts of the film's screenplay written by Arnaud D'Usseau and James Gow, their work was not used in the final film. Joel Sayre, the author of the magazine story, also worked on treatments for the film, but his screenplay work was not incorporated in the completed picture.
       According to a 25 Jul 1949 LAMirror article, the studio purchased Sayre's story as a vehicle for Richard Widmark, who was to play "Robert." According to HR news items, Robert Wagner was originally set for the role of "Danny," but was replaced by Jeffrey Hunter. The picture marked the motion picture debuts of Hunter and Grace Kelly, as well as character actress Joyce Van Patten. Fourteen Hours also marked the return to the screen of Broadway actor George MacQuarrie, who had not appeared in a film since the 1943 RKO production This Land Is Mine .
       The scripts collection contains an 8 Dec 1950 cutting continuity revealing that the film originally ended with "Robert" falling to his death after being frightened by the spotlight. Contemporary sources note that both endings were shot, and that it was not until just before the film's release that the studio decided to use the ending in which Robert is caught by the net and survives. As noted by contemporary sources, portions of the film were shot on location in New York City. The film received an Academy Award nomination in the Art Direction (Black-and-White) category.
       On 23 Mar 1953, Paul Douglas reprised his role for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story, which co-starred Terry Moore and Marvin Bryan. A one-hour television remake of the story, entitled Man on the Ledge , was telecast on 28 Dec 1955 on the 20th Century-Fox Hour . The television show was directed by Lewis Allen and starred Cameron Mitchell and William Gargan. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Mar 1951.
---
Daily Variety
28 Feb 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
1 Mar 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 50
p. 4, 15
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 50
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 50
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 50
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 51
p. 2.
Life
12 Mar 51
pp. 114-18.
Los Angeles Mirror
25 Jul 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Aug 1949.
---
Motion Picture Daily
1 Mar 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Mar 1951.
---
New York Times
11 Jun 1950.
---
New York Times
7 Mar 51
p. 42.
Saturday Review
24 Mar 1951.
---
Variety
21 Jun 1950.
---
Variety
28 Feb 51
p. 13.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Kenneth Harvey
Robert Keith Jr.
George Offerman
William McLean
Dick Talmadge
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Man on the Ledge" by Joel Sayre in The New Yorker (16 Apr 1949).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Man on the Ledge
Release Date:
April 1951
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 5 March 1951
Los Angeles opening: 27 April 1951
Production Date:
early June--early August 1950
addl seq began early January 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
20 April 1951
Copyright Number:
LP918
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
91-92
Length(in feet):
8,203
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14687
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Early one morning, a room service waiter at the Rodney Hotel in New York City is horrified to discover that the young man to whom he has just delivered breakfast is standing on the narrow ledge outside his fourteenth-floor room. When the youth threatens to jump, the waiter notifies the hotel manager, while Charlie Dunnigan, a policeman patroling the street below, sees the man and alerts his precinct. Dunnigan then rushes up to the room, and, while sitting on the window ledge, pretends to be a fellow hotel guest. The man refuses to come in, however, and when Deputy Chief Moksar arrives, Dunnigan is dismissed. Back on the street, reporters stream into the hotel, and Dunnigan tries to manage the crowd of bystanders and snarled traffic. While Dunnigan advises a woman named Mrs. Louise Anne Fuller to leave her cab and walk, a young woman named Ruth discusses the drama with a fellow watcher, Danny Klemptner. In the hotel room, Bellevue psychiatrists Dr. Strauss and Dr. Benson tell Moksar that the youth, whose name they still do not know, refuses to talk to anyone except Dunnigan, and Moksar sends for him. Meanwhile, as television and radio reporters broadcast the event, Mrs. Fuller reaches her attorney's nearby office, where she and her husband are to finalize their divorce agreement. A fervent evangelist, the Reverend Dr. J. C. Parkinson, then tries to gain admittance to the hotel, but a policeman shoos him away as Dunnigan arrives. Strauss and Benson advise the nervous Dunnigan to act natural and keep the boy talking, and soon Dunnigan and the young man are chatting about the upcoming St. ... +


Early one morning, a room service waiter at the Rodney Hotel in New York City is horrified to discover that the young man to whom he has just delivered breakfast is standing on the narrow ledge outside his fourteenth-floor room. When the youth threatens to jump, the waiter notifies the hotel manager, while Charlie Dunnigan, a policeman patroling the street below, sees the man and alerts his precinct. Dunnigan then rushes up to the room, and, while sitting on the window ledge, pretends to be a fellow hotel guest. The man refuses to come in, however, and when Deputy Chief Moksar arrives, Dunnigan is dismissed. Back on the street, reporters stream into the hotel, and Dunnigan tries to manage the crowd of bystanders and snarled traffic. While Dunnigan advises a woman named Mrs. Louise Anne Fuller to leave her cab and walk, a young woman named Ruth discusses the drama with a fellow watcher, Danny Klemptner. In the hotel room, Bellevue psychiatrists Dr. Strauss and Dr. Benson tell Moksar that the youth, whose name they still do not know, refuses to talk to anyone except Dunnigan, and Moksar sends for him. Meanwhile, as television and radio reporters broadcast the event, Mrs. Fuller reaches her attorney's nearby office, where she and her husband are to finalize their divorce agreement. A fervent evangelist, the Reverend Dr. J. C. Parkinson, then tries to gain admittance to the hotel, but a policeman shoos him away as Dunnigan arrives. Strauss and Benson advise the nervous Dunnigan to act natural and keep the boy talking, and soon Dunnigan and the young man are chatting about the upcoming St. Patrick's Day parade. Through his fingerprints, the police learn that the youth is Robert Cosick, and try to find his divorced parents. The police locate Robert's mother, but her hysteria only upsets Robert further. Mrs. Cosick relates that Robert, always a nervous boy, had been hospitalized for his condition. Mr. Cosick then arrives, and the enmity his ex-wife feels for him embarrasses the policemen. Mrs. Cosick rushes to the window and tells her son that no matter what "Virginia" thinks, he is not sick. Dunnigan is intrigued by the reference to "Virginia," but Robert denies knowing anyone by that name. Mr. Cosick approaches Robert, but the youth is reluctant to confide in him, as they have been virtual strangers for the past fifteen years. Below, Danny and Ruth continue to talk while Parkinson sneaks into the hotel stairway. As Mrs. Cosick informs the reporters about the career she gave up to have a family, Dunnigan interrupts her and learns that Virginia Foster was Robert's fiancee. On the roof, the police build a winch to lower a man down to Robert, but people in a neighboring building alert Robert as the policeman approaches, and Robert threatens to jump. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fuller, who can see the ongoing drama from the attorney's office, tells her still-loving husband that she is tired of the divorce proceedings and would rather stay married. At the hotel, Robert yells at Dunnigan for attempting to trap him, but Dunnigan reiterates that the policeman was trying to help him, and that the city has been brought to a standstill by his suicide threat. Robert apologizes, and Dunnigan persuades him to talk to his father again. Dunnigan then convinces Robert that everyone will leave the hotel room so that he can rest, but as Robert steps in, Parkinson bursts in and frightens Robert back onto the ledge. As night falls, the police locate Virginia and bring her to the hotel, where Strauss and Benson tell her that it was his parents' divorce and Mrs. Cosick's smothering that caused Robert's instability. Although Robert does not want to see Virginia, she comes to the window and states that she still loves him. Dunnigan then promises to introduce Robert to his wife and take him fishing. Just as it seems that Robert is about to come in, a boy on the street accidentally turns on a spotlight that blinds Robert, and in his panic, he falls from the ledge. As he falls, Robert grabs a net that the police had stealthily been raising, and he is pulled to safety. Strauss and Benson sedate Robert and put him to bed, then assure Virginia that the worst is over. Exhausted after his long ordeal, Dunnigan returns to the street, where he is greeted by his wife and son. Later that night, Danny and Ruth, who have fallen in love, walk the street hand in hand. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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