When you see this man... Dial 1119!
A killer holds the customers at a bar hostage.
A killer holds the customers at a bar hostage.
Damn...this lean, tense, darkly witty noir knocked me out. I'm a sucker for low budget but still well made crime and mystery dramas of the 40's and 50's, and this crackerjack little gem joins the likes of "Split Second" and "Murder By Contract" as my favorite minimalist thrillers of the era.
Directed by Gerald Mayer, the film is clearly (and cleverly) shot on basically one street corner of MGM's backlot, and mainly within one set of a snazzy little cocktail lounge called "The Oasis Bar". (Here's a 1950 release with a barroom sporting a brand new 3 by 4 foot big screen TV! It's a constant talking point.) A criminally insane young man escapes from a mental institution and holes…
Dial 1119 is approximately half of a great film, offering a chilling central performance by Marshall Thompson as a mentally ill man who escapes from a hospital and holds a bar's patrons hostage, the drama also contemplating some potentially compelling ideas about the role of mass media (in this case, early television) to exploit tragedies, but the material is handled inconsistently by director Gerald Mayer (nephew of MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer), who did far stronger work on the later film Bright Road (1953) with Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte. For every effective scene in Dial, like Gunther Wyckoff's (Thompson) coldblooded murder of a Greyhound bus driver or the tension of wondering whether bartender Chuckles (William Conrad) will be…
Brute force wins out over psychology.
A guy has escaped a home for the criminally insane. He winds up in a bar holding 5 people hostage. He wants to talk to the psychologist who kept him from the electric chair. Each of the people has a story and none wants to die, but if the psychologist doesn't show in 25 minutes he will kill everyone inside the bar.
Not a bad hostage drama. It has some similarity with other films that have a circus atmosphere around a news story. Also, there is a big screen TV in the bar. In 1950!
"[Boxers] illustrate the society in which we live. We're all boxers; we all beat each other's brains out."
A man escapes from a mental hospital, steals a gun from a bus, and holds up a bar full of people in order to play out a delusional postwar fantasy.
This is a mostly one-location, real-time, minimalist noir with a tight plot, languid pace, and focus on character that gives it an almost theatrical feel and makes it very easy and fun to watch, and for its trim 75-minute runtime you'd be hard-pressed to find something that's more economical outside of Hitchcock's Rope. Well worth the small investment it demands.
We spend just enough time with each patron in the bar to…
Escaped killer Gunther Wyckoff takes hostages in a barroom. He demands to speak to the doctor who had him declared insane. Low budget, single set studio pictures from the 40's and 50's are pretty charming because you get to see talent and creativity shining through limited resources. What you have in Dial 1119 is a solid contract ensemble, a taught and idiosyncratic script, and some very cool sound design. It's clean and brisk with a real-time feel that's remeniscent of Robert Wise's The Set-up. There's even a good twist. You could do a lot worse for an afternoon thriller.
Gunther (Marshall Thompson) has just escaped from an asylum for the criminally insane and is looking for the psychiatrist (Sam Levene) whose testimony meant he wasn't executed for the crimes he had committed. He ends up in a bar and takes the people inside hostage. The police basically want him dead so that he cannot kill anyone else, the psychiatrist wants to talk to him so that he can go back to hospital.
An interesting film that would have been better if it had been longer so that we got to know everyone a bit better - they were merely caricatures. The exchanges between the police and psychiatrist echoed what a lot of people thought, and still think, about the mentally ill, most of who are only a danger to themselves unlike Thompson's character here.
There was an aura about this psycho out on the town, but there was also a lot of dead time in between the brief extremes. The characters in the bar was mostly pointless too, specially when you consider how much screen time was dedicated to introduce them to the story, when they had so little to do with it. It was basically all about Marshall Thompson and what would make him snap. And those portions was great!
An escaped mental patient takes five patrons in a bar hostage and wants to talk to the psychiatrist who had him committed. A tense, low budget psychological that benefits from using only a few sets and some great black and white photography by noir cinematographer Paul Vogel. Great ensemble cast including Andrea King, Leon Ames and William Conrad before he fattened up and became TV's Cannon). Best performances were by Marshall Thompson as the protagonist and Virginia Field as the floozy.
A wonderfully entertaining hostage noir told in real time. Featuring a disturbed war veteran, a cop who bungles the situation, a drunken barfly, a worn down newspaper hack and a cheeky barman, this one ticks all of the right character boxes and is directed with some style by Louis B. Mayer's nephew.
The veteran kills a bus driver and holes up in a bar in Terminal City, a bar populated by a motley crew vaguely reminiscent of the superior Petrified Forest. The barman is my favourite of all characters: “What have I got to be happy about? Maybe if I have place with some class, carpet on the floor, plush around instead of being stuck with a crumb joint,” but…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
A compact hostage movie with good ensemble work and some little twists here and there to keep things taut. It's interesting to parse out the subtext of what the gunman's problem is in coded Hollywood terms, and although that's the weakest point when seen from a 21st century perspective, the movie's still worth seeing. The point is first made when the doctor says the antagonist can't "function" properly like others (men) and so lives in a fantasy world in which he's a macho hero, and the nail is driven in when we learn that he was rejected when he tried to join the military and that was what pushed him over the edge. To me this screams Hollywood code for "he's gay," a predictably bigoted idea about motive.
Minor noir classic set primarily in a bar inhabited by a handful of colorful characters, not the least of which is a dour, portly bartender named Chuckles played by the great William Conrad. Tense with a wry sense of humor.
Dial 1119 focuses on a hostage situation in a bar by an escaped killer, although I think it takes longer than it should to get to this point. Once it is finally there though, it manages several good scenes with an overall bleak sort of tone as it tries to look at when society does or doesn't condone killing as it pulls in elements of World War II, just a few years past at the point of this movie.
I do think the biggest disappointment here is that it's the end of this that it really starts getting interesting, both in what it starts exploring, and in how well it builds up the tension. However, it doesn't get to this…