Don't Bother to Knock

DON'T BOTHER TO KNOCK. 1952

Director: Roy Ward Baker

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Richard Widmark is splendid as the film noir anti-hero who evolves from heartless selfish cad to sympathetic man in Don't Bother to Knock. Ann Bancroft is unbelievably beautiful in a reversal of the old Hollywood norm of the raven-haired woman being "bad girl" & the blonde being the "good girl."

This time out it's the blonde who is bad, & it is amazing to see Marylin Monroe turn in such a complex & frightening performance, always on the verge of killing the child she is babysitting. She clearly drew from the darker side of her own soul -- the same part that drove her to suicide -- to find this character inside & let it out.

Apart from the child bondage scene, only a little happens that is actually violent, but the threat posed by the mentally ill babysitter is extreme. The film's limited sets make it very live-theater-like, but the spot-on performances make it a very effective film noir

Anyone who never thought Monroe was a particularly interesting actor beyond the looks will surely find an exception in this disturbed & disturbing performance.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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