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Don't Bother to Knock

Don't Bother to Knock(1952)

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Lyn Lesley, the bar singer at New York's McKinley Hotel, frets about the impending arrival of her boyfriend, airline pilot Jed Towers. Lyn had mailed Jed a letter ending their six-month relationship, and when Jed questions her, she explains that she is leaving him because he lacks an understanding heart. Meanwhile, elevator operator Eddie introduces his shy niece, Nell Forbes, to guests Peter and Ruth Jones, as the babysitter he arranged for their daughter Bunny. The Joneses, who are dining in the hotel's banquet hall, bid goodnight to Bunny, and although Nell had been worried about her lack of experience, she quickly tucks Bunny in. After Bunny falls asleep, Nell goes into the other room and dons a lacy negligee belonging to Ruth, as well as some of her perfume and jewelry. Jed, whose room is across the courtyard, sees Nell through the window and calls the voluptuous blonde on the telephone. While she is intimidated by Jed's seductive tone, Nell is also intrigued, but their conversation is interrupted by Eddie, who is checking on Nell. Eddie orders Nell to remove Ruth's apparel, and when she protests, he soothes her by saying that she can obtain such luxuries for herself by finding another boyfriend to replace the one who was killed. Eddie then leaves, and Nell invites Jed over. Jed aggressively pursues Nell, but is bewildered by her hesitant, yet flirtatious demeanor, and her inconsistent explanations about her presence in the hotel. Nell is startled when Jed states that he is a pilot, and she in turn confides that her boyfriend Philip died while flying over the Pacific. Nell's true position is abruptly revealed by Bunny, after which Nell shakes the child and orders her to return to bed. Feeling sorry for Nell, who has been in New York for only a month, Jed acquiesces to her plea for him to stay, and begins to take a real interest in her. Jed also comforts the crying Bunny, although when Bunny looks out the window, it appears that Nell is about to push her. Jed rescues the girl, and the incident is witnessed by Emma Ballew, a nosy, long-term resident. Nell escorts Bunny to bed, then accuses the child of spying on her and warns her not to make any noise. Meanwhile, Jed has decided to seek Lyn's forgiveness, but Nell again begs him not to leave. As he is refusing a kiss from Nell, Jed sees scars on her wrists, and Nell confesses that after Philip died, she tried to kill herself with a razor. Just then, Eddie comes to check on Nell, and Jed hides in the bathroom to avoid angering him. Eddie is irate that Nell is still wearing Ruth's things, however, and chastises her, saying he had thought that she was "getting better." Eddie orders her to change clothes, then harshly rubs off her lipstick. The action enrages Nell and, stating that Eddie is just like her repressive parents, she hits him over the head with a heavy ashtray. Then, almost in a trance, Nell goes into Bunny's room as Jed tends to Eddie's wound. When Nell returns to the main room, she is confronted by the Ballews, who are suspicious of the cries they have heard coming from Bunny. Fearing for his job, Eddie persuades Jed to hide in the bathroom, but while Nell is talking with the Ballews, Jed sneaks into Bunny's room. As he is leaving, Jed does not notice that Bunny is now bound and gagged. When the Ballews see Jed leave, they assume that he had forced his way in and was holding Nell captive. While the Ballews then notify the hotel detective, Nell, who is now so deluded that she believes Jed is Philip, locks Eddie in the closet and goes into Bunny's room. In the bar, Jed tells Lyn about Nell, and she is surprised by his sympathetic reaction to the unbalanced babysitter. Suddenly realizing that Bunny was on the wrong bed, Jed rushes up to the room, where Nell, believing that Bunny drove Jed away, is about to hurt the girl. Wanting to check on Bunny, Ruth arrives before Jed does and is attacked by Nell. Jed pulls Nell away from Ruth, then, as he unties Bunny, Nell slips away. When Jed releases Eddie from the closet, Eddie admits that Nell had spent the previous three years in a mental institution following her suicide attempt. Jed then searches for the missing Nell and finds her in the lobby, where she is threatening to kill herself with a razor. Still believing that Jed is Philip, Nell is baffled by his attempts to help her, but his soothing tone induces her to give him the razor. Seeing that Jed has an understanding heart after all, Lyn reconciles with him as Nell is led away to a hospital.