14 Hours is the story of a man who is teetering on the edge, trying to decide between life and death. Robert Cosick (Richard Basehart) is a young man who is feeling suffocated by his anxiety, so he steps out onto the window ledge of his 15th floor hotel room hoping to find clarity. Officer Charlie Dunnigan (Paul Douglas) is the first to spot him, and the first to attempt to talk him off the ledge. Crowds start to gather, and soon Robert becomes a citywide phenomenon. As all eyes turn to him, Robert feels Charlie is the only one he can trust. So the simple traffic cop must step up and play psychologist to the confused jumper.
This film is beautifully shot, which isn't very hard when New York is your setting, and the picture quality is excellent. It can sometimes be jarring in films when they use "fake" backgrounds. You know what I'm talking about, when they are supposedly driving in the city, but really they are driving in front of a movie of the city. Well, most of this film takes place on the window ledge, and has by far the most convincing surrounding shots I've seen in an old movie. Practically seamless are the shots of the crowds far below, and yet the entire thing was filmed on a set.
There was an attempt to weave in a few other storylines into the film, in an attempt to involve the on-lookers. Unfortunately, despite being a strong concept, those stories ended up seeming tagged on. There is also an underlying theme concerning the dire consequences of divorce. This plot line leaves the distinct impression Roberts mother (Agnes Moorehead – TV's Bewitched) is to blame for her sons suicidal tendencies. As a single mother herself, this is exactly the kind of thing my own mother hates! I was an interested viewer the entire film, and felt it was building up to quite the climactic ending, but I must say it ended up falling flat…pardon the pun.
Commentary by Film Noir Historian Foster Hirsch
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Original Theatrical Trailer