Fourteen Hours, is a lesser known Film Noir from 1951, directed by Henry Hathaway and Written by John Paxton. Based on an article by Joel Sayre in The New Yorker describing the 1938 suicide of John William Warden. The film was shot in New York and is the film debut of Grace Kelly in a small role.
The film follows a cop as he attempts to coerce a suicidal man off the ledge of a building. Onlookers and family discord make the situation worse as the Officer attempts to gain the unstable man’s trust. Over the course of fourteen hours he succeeds in winning him over only to have his efforts continually messed up due to those around him.
My happiest surprise while watching this film was the treatment of mental illness and the reality the stigma towards it. People on the streets are seen as being both sympathetic and horrible towards the situation. Below the man on the ledge, taxi drivers are placing bets and kids are mocking him. While this is a harsh view it is a true one and a view we still live with today. Far too often people forget that those suffering from a mental illness and those on the brink of suicide are ill and they need help. However we don’t view it in the same vein as physical illnesses like cancer so we have a distorted view of the harsh reality.
On the streets and in the buildings of New York, life continued. People went to work, found their ways back to each other and managed to find love. It is a Hollywood movie after all. You could’t expect them to make a movie with at least a little romance did you? Fourteen Hours breaks up the drama that exist on the ledge by showing us his affect on those below him and how they react to the situation. While this film may not be as well known as Noir classics Laura and Double Indemnity, it still works with a great script and superb acting by the films star, Robert Cosick.
Two endings to the film exist. The original and preferred ending by the Director has Robert falling to his death but due to the suicide of Fox President, Spyros Skourasdaughter on the day of the films preview the ending was changed to have Robert survive.
Appearing in Hollywood films for a few short years in the 1950’s Grace Kelly became the Princess of Monaco leaving film behind. In our minds she was more than an actress and is cemented in time as a fashion icon still appearing in fashion magazines. Down below are three of my favorite Grace Kelly looks. All are completely different.
1. Grace Kelly wore this Blue Chiffon dress in her last Hitchcock picture To Catch a Thief. There where a slew of beautiful gowns and outfits wore by Grace in the film but this was my only choice and my favorite look.
2. Often seen in soft light colors this black dress is a look we don’t see very often on Grace. She pulled it off well as Jimmy Stewart’s girlfriend in Rear Window.
3. Seeing Grace Kelly in pants is even more rare. Grace Kelly wore this simple look in High Society a musical remake of A Philadelphia Story.
Born in Pennsylvania on November 12, 1929 to Jack Kelly an Irish immigrant and self made man. Looking at her picture it is hard to believe that at a young age she was seen as the runt of the family. Suffering from asthma as a child Grace was not the athletic child her father wanted her to be. Unlike the other children Grace was a more artistic child more like her uncle, Pulitzer prize winning playwright George Kelly.
After a rejection from Bennington College Grace decided to pursue her dreams to become an actress. With the help of her Uncle George she was accepted to American Academy of Dramatic Arts. While in New York she stayed at the all girls boarding house Barbizon Hotel. While there she worked as a model to support herself. She used a tape recorder to perfect her voice. After a few stage roles and parts in television Grace made her film debut in a small, unrecognized part in Fourteen Hours. While performing in Eilitch Gardens she received a telegram offering her a role opposite Gary Cooper in High Noon.
In 1954 Grace would make her first appearance in a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock when she starred alongside Ray Milland in Dial M for Murder. This was the first of three films with the director followed by Rear Window opposite James Steward and To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant. After her appearance in Rear Window Kelly went on to her Oscar winning role opposite William Holden and Bing Crosby in The Country Girl. She had worked with Holden previously in The Bridges over Toko-Ri.
While attending the Cannes film festival Grace was invited to a photo session with Prince Rainier. After returning to America to film The Swan where she played a Princess she corresponded with the Prince of Monaco. Soon the couple were engaged and Kelly would appear in her last film. She appeared in High Society a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story. After leaving Hollywood for Monaco Kelly and Hitchcock’s relationship became strained. He wanted her to appear in Marnie but the people of Monaco did not want their Princess staring alongside Scottish leading man Sean Connery.
The ice blonde left Hollywood to become the Princess she always appeared to be. Her parents where pleased that their little girl married a man they deemed worthy. The question however still remains. What could she have been had she never left the cameras behind? After an automobile accident caused by a stroke, Kelly died of her injuries at the hospital later named in her honor. Her legacy still lives. To many she is a fashion icon. Grace was the perfect name for a women as poised as her.
A movie star, a princess, a legend, Grace Kelly’s dedication to the arts still existed after her marriage to Prince Rainier. Her kind heart carried her through life. Despite her early retirement from film and her death at only 52 years of age Grace made her mark on the world. If she were alive today she would be 84 years old and probably still charming us with her grace, smile and elegance.
"Is the cinema more important than life?" Francois Truffaut