Thursday, November 17, 2011

Don't Bother to Knock (1952)

“Are you the girl in 809?”
“Why, yes. Who's this?”
“I'm the guy in 821.”

            When you her Marilyn Monroe’s name I bet the first thing that comes into your mind is of her being the dumb blonde or the “Blonde Bombshell” in her films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot. When I hear her name those are the first films of hers I think of and how she was not the greatest actress ever that she more of an icon than anything else. But with the last two Marilyn Monroe films I have sat through she has been so much more than the blonde, ditzy girl she was made out to be. She was fabulous in The Misfits as the lonely divorced woman looking for a place in the world. I thought she was great in The Misfits but she absolutely blew me away in one of her first dramatic films Don’t Bother to Knock.
            Jed Towers (Richard Widmark) is a pilot who comes to a hotel to find his girlfriend Lyn (Anne Bancroft). Lyn wrote a letter to him saying how she wanted to break things off with him. He really likes her but wants to know why she does not want to be with him. She tells Jed that he is not very caring or has the heart. Jed is upset so he goes back to his room. Lyn can be heard singing on the radio and he angrily turns it off.
            Nell Forbes (Monroe) has recently come to New York for a new change of scenery. She was recently in the hospital recovering from something. Her uncle Eddie works as an elevator operator at the hotel and gets her a job babysitting a little girl for the nigh. Nell puts the girl Bunny to bed and goes into the other room and puts the mother’s rob, earrings, and perfume on.
            Jed sees Nell in the window across from his room. He finds her attractive and calls her up. He asks if he can come over and she hesitantly says yes. Nell right away lies to Jed saying that she is in the hotel room with her sister for the weekend before they leave for South America. Eventually Jed finds out she is lying when Bunny comes out of her room.
            Nell quickly goes from being a little eccentric to being full out disturbed. She thinks Jed is her dead fiancé Phillip who died over the Pacific flying his plane. When Nell goes to kiss him he grabs her wrists and see she tried to kill herself. After Phillip’s death Nell was so upset she slit her wrists and after that her parents put her away at an institution for a while. Eddie comes to check up on her and she thinks he is like her parents holding her back. She hits Eddie on the head and later on locks him in the closet to keep him quiet when two nosey guests come by to check on things.
            Things get really bad for Nell to where the police are called after her and she steals a razor to hurt herself again. Jed had told Lyn about Nell so when Nell is in the lobby with the razor Lyn is there for the woman to calm her down. Jed gets to her too and talks to her to remember Phillip and that he himself is not her lost love. The police come to take Nell away to a hospital.
            Lyn sees that Jed really does have a heart that he did deeply care for Nell and she is willing to give their relationship another try.
            Many reviews will describe Nell as psychotic but that is totally unfair she is not psychotic she is just very, very disturbed and sick. Monroe was amazing. Nell’s parents were not that great so when she finally found a man that was and he died she just lost it and never got over that loss. Monroe had an immense talent for drama that is not often seen which is a total shame. You can sincerely feel her character’s hurt and loss. All you want to do is help her you know she is not insane you know that all she needs is real help. Monroe had to heave really reached down inside her to get out those emotions she played. I have nothing negative to say about her performance she was flawless.
            Richard Widmark was great. I like his character who was frustrated over his girlfriend telling him he was uncaring and in the end he did care for someone. He saw how upset and sick Nell was and he wanted to help her. Now Widmark will no longer just be the bad guy from Murder on the Orient Express to me. Come to think of it he was actually kind of handsome.
            This was Anne Bancroft’s first film. I am insanely jealous of her because not only was she fantastic actress she was twenty-one years old when she made this film. Her scenes with Widmark were great and I really liked the scene at the end when she finds Nell and speaks to her.

            Don’t Bother to Knock is flawless. It is an extremely well acted drama filmed in the Noir style. This is a Marilyn Monroe film that should be more well known she was amazing and she never looked better. I have no complaints whatsoever about Don’t Bother to Knock it is one I will be showing all my friends and feel that every film lover should see. 

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