Count the Hours


1h 16m 1953
Count the Hours

Brief Synopsis

A lawyer defends a migrant worker in a sensational murder trial.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Matter of Life and Death
Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Apr 1, 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Ben-Bo Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,698ft

Synopsis

In the middle of the night, elderly farmer Fred Morgan and his live-in housekeeper, Sarah Watson, are shot to death when they catch a mysterious intruder stealing money from Fred's desk. The next morning, the bodies are discovered by Fred's nephew, Alvin Taylor, who in turn alerts Fred's hired hand, George Braden. George, who lives on the Morgan property with his wife Ellen, reacts with horror to the scene, but later is drilled by the suspicious district attorney, Gillespie. After George lies to Gillespie that he does not own a .32 caliber gun, the type of firearm used in the murders, a panicked Ellen sneaks to their cottage to hide her husband's revolver. While police detectives search the cottage, Ellen keeps the gun out of sight, then throws it into a nearby lake. One of the detectives observes her, however, and both she and George are taken to police headquarters for questioning. Ellen and George deny any wrongdoing, but after hours of intense interrogation by Gillespie, George, fearing that Ellen will have a breakdown, confesses to the murders. Later, Gillespie asks lawyer Doug Madison to defend George, but Doug refuses to take the case until he sees the pregnant Ellen diving in the lake in search of George's gun. Ellen's determination to locate the gun and prove George's innocence changes Doug's mind. After accepting the case, however, Doug is criticized by a hostile public and by his socialite fiancée, Paula Mitchener, who fears for his political future. Reassuring both Paula and Ellen, Doug hires a professional diver to scour the lake. As soon as Doug runs out of money, the diver quits and tries to rape Ellen. Doug stops the attack, and in revenge, the diver starts a rumor that Ellen is having an affair with her lawyer. George's trial then begins, and the testimony against him appears insurmountable. Just before closing statements, however, a teenager hired by Doug to search the lake bursts in to announce he has found George's gun. The Bradens' joy at the discovery is short-lived, as a ballistics report on the firearm proves inconclusive. George is convicted and given the death penalty. When Doug declares he is appealing the verdict, Paula, who has heard the rumors about Ellen, tries to talk him out of it, feeling he has become obsessed with the case. Doug persists, however, and Paula agrees to stand by him. Later, Doug comes to Ellen's aid when Alvin, who inherited his uncle's property, hands her an eviction notice. During the discussion, Alvin reveals that George's predecessor, Max Verne, threatened Fred after Fred fired him. Sensing he has stumbled onto something, Doug goes to the farm where Verne now works and meets his young, seductive bride Gracie. After Gracie admits that Verne convinced her to marry him by buying her new clothes, Doug does a background check on Verne and learns that he served time for burglary. Verne is eventually arrested and confesses to the killings. During a re-trial hearing, however, Gillespie produces expert witnesses who testify that the alcoholic Verne has a tendency to confess on impulse. With his confession invalidated, Verne is freed, and George's conviction is upheld. Afterward, Ellen goes into labor, and Doug dutifully waits at the hospital, missing an important date with Paula. Fed up, Paula breaks off with Doug, and the now clientless Doug decides to leave town on the day of George's execution. While having a farewell drink with Ellen at a bar, the bartender complains that Verne is an unwanted, frequent customer. The bartender also discloses that Verne told him about the murders early in the morning, hours before the police had discovered the crime, and Doug realizes he has the evidence he needs to save George. Doug instructs the bartender to telephone the sheriff, while he goes to Verne's farm. Before the bartender can make the call, however, Verne shows up. The bartender sends the jealous Verne scurrying home by telling him that Doug is after Gracie, then notifies the sheriff. At the farm, Doug is trying to convince Gracie to tell him where Verne is, when Verne sneaks up with his gun. Just as Verne is about to pull the trigger, the sheriff arrives. Verne is arrested and George's execution is called off. Paula then begs Doug's forgiveness, and the two look forward to a happy future together.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Matter of Life and Death
Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Apr 1, 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Ben-Bo Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,698ft

Articles

Count the Hours


This sixth feature film from Don Siegel was made well before the maverick American director could claim the artistic freedom he would enjoy while making Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) but nonetheless reveals themes that would characterize such signature Siegel work as Death of a Gunfighter (1969), Dirty Harry (1971), and Charley Varrick (1973). A midnight home invasion turned double homicide shocks the residents of a tight-knit farming community, resulting in the arrest of an itinerant worker (John Craven) who is put on the fast track to Death Row. When the defendant's pregnant wife (Teresa Wright) importunes a local defense attorney (MacDonald Carey, reuniting with Wright a decade after Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt) to help prove her husband's innocence, the town rises up in protest, with gossip, scandal, and self-interest diverting the true path of justice. Shot by ace cinematographer John Alton, the shadowy murder scene that opens the film anticipates Richard Brooks' 1966 film adaptation of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, the chronicle of a ghastly 1959 multiple murder in Holcomb, Kansas, that was here six years in the future. Though made on the cheap, and in only nine days, Count the Hours manages to dazzle with bravura setpieces, most memorably the exciting pursuit of a suspect (Jack Elam) through darkened woods that recalls Alton's film noir classics (He Walked by Night, Border Incident) while looking ahead to Siegel's later crime classics.

By Richard Harland Smith
Count The Hours

Count the Hours

This sixth feature film from Don Siegel was made well before the maverick American director could claim the artistic freedom he would enjoy while making Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) but nonetheless reveals themes that would characterize such signature Siegel work as Death of a Gunfighter (1969), Dirty Harry (1971), and Charley Varrick (1973). A midnight home invasion turned double homicide shocks the residents of a tight-knit farming community, resulting in the arrest of an itinerant worker (John Craven) who is put on the fast track to Death Row. When the defendant's pregnant wife (Teresa Wright) importunes a local defense attorney (MacDonald Carey, reuniting with Wright a decade after Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt) to help prove her husband's innocence, the town rises up in protest, with gossip, scandal, and self-interest diverting the true path of justice. Shot by ace cinematographer John Alton, the shadowy murder scene that opens the film anticipates Richard Brooks' 1966 film adaptation of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, the chronicle of a ghastly 1959 multiple murder in Holcomb, Kansas, that was here six years in the future. Though made on the cheap, and in only nine days, Count the Hours manages to dazzle with bravura setpieces, most memorably the exciting pursuit of a suspect (Jack Elam) through darkened woods that recalls Alton's film noir classics (He Walked by Night, Border Incident) while looking ahead to Siegel's later crime classics. By Richard Harland Smith

Teresa Wright (1918-2005)


Teresa Wright, a talented, Oscar&-winning leading lady of the '40s, and in later life, a versatile character player, died on March 6 at a New Haven, Connecticut hospital of a heart attack. She was 86.

She was born Muriel Teresa Wright in New York City on October 27, 1918. She showed a keen interest in acting in grade school, and by the time she was 19, she made her Broadway debut in Thorton Wilder's Our Town (1938); the following year she scored a hit as Mary, the weeping ingénue in Life with Father (1939). The word was out that New York had a superb young acting talent on hand, and Samuel Goldwyn soon brought her to Hollywood for William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1941). She scored an Oscar® nomination for her film debut as Regina Giddens' (Bette Davis), honorable daughter, Alexandria.

She maintained her amazing momentum by scoring two Oscar® nominations the following year for her next two films: as Carol Miniver in Wyler's Mrs. Miniver (Best Supporting Actress Category), and as Lou Gehrig's (Gary Cooper) faithful wife Ellie in Pride of the Yankees (Best Actress Category), and won the Oscar for Miniver. Yet for most fans of Wright's work, her finest hour remains her perfectly modulated performance as young Charlie in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Wright's performance as the self-effacing, impressionable young niece who gradually realizes that her beloved uncle (Joseph Cotton) may have murdered several widows is effective since Wright's air of observation, subtly turns from idol gazing, to a watchful air of caution as the facts slowly being to unravel. 60 years on, fans of Hitchcock still acclaim Wright's performance as an integral part of the film's classic status.

She proved her talents in comedy with the delightful Casanova Brown (1944), but then saw her schedule slow down due to domesticity. After she married screenwriter Niven Busch in 1942, she gave birth to son, Niven Jr., in 1944, and took two years off to look after her family. She soon returned to film with another Wyler project, the Oscar®-winning, post war drama, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing Fredric March's level-headed daughter, Peggy, she again took some time off after giving birth to her daughter, Mary in 1947. On her second attempt to return to the big screen, Wright found her popularity on the wane. Her wholesome image was in sharp contrast of the tougher, more modern women in post-war Hollywood, and her stubborn refusal to pose for any swimsuit or cheesecake photos to alter her image led to her release from Sam Goldwyn's contract.

As a freelance actress, Wright still found some good roles, notably as a young widow in the thriller scripted by her husband, in The Capture; and as a faithful fiancée trying to help Marlin Brandon deal with his amputation in Stanley Kramer's The Men (both 1950). Yet within a few years, she was playing middle-aged mothers in film like The Actress (1953), and The Track of the Cat (1954), even though she was still in her early '30s. By the mid-50s she found work in live television, where she could apply her stage training, in a number of acclaimed shows: Playhouse 90, General Electric Theater, Four Star Playhouse, and The United States Steel Hour.

She took a break from acting when she married her second husband, the playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, (she had divorced her first husband, Busch, in 1952) and was out of the public eye for several decades, save for an isolated theater appearance. When she did return, it was intermittent, but she was always worth watching. In James Ivory's Roseland (1977), a portrait of the New York dancehall; she was poignant as a talkative widow obsessed with her late husband; and as an enigmatic old actress in Somewhere in Time, she nearly stole the picture from leads, Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour. She was still active in the '90s, appearing a few hit shows: Murder, She Wrote, Picket Fences; and a final film role in John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997). She is survived by her son, Niven; daughter, Mary; and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Teresa Wright (1918-2005)

Teresa Wright, a talented, Oscar&-winning leading lady of the '40s, and in later life, a versatile character player, died on March 6 at a New Haven, Connecticut hospital of a heart attack. She was 86. She was born Muriel Teresa Wright in New York City on October 27, 1918. She showed a keen interest in acting in grade school, and by the time she was 19, she made her Broadway debut in Thorton Wilder's Our Town (1938); the following year she scored a hit as Mary, the weeping ingénue in Life with Father (1939). The word was out that New York had a superb young acting talent on hand, and Samuel Goldwyn soon brought her to Hollywood for William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1941). She scored an Oscar® nomination for her film debut as Regina Giddens' (Bette Davis), honorable daughter, Alexandria. She maintained her amazing momentum by scoring two Oscar® nominations the following year for her next two films: as Carol Miniver in Wyler's Mrs. Miniver (Best Supporting Actress Category), and as Lou Gehrig's (Gary Cooper) faithful wife Ellie in Pride of the Yankees (Best Actress Category), and won the Oscar for Miniver. Yet for most fans of Wright's work, her finest hour remains her perfectly modulated performance as young Charlie in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Wright's performance as the self-effacing, impressionable young niece who gradually realizes that her beloved uncle (Joseph Cotton) may have murdered several widows is effective since Wright's air of observation, subtly turns from idol gazing, to a watchful air of caution as the facts slowly being to unravel. 60 years on, fans of Hitchcock still acclaim Wright's performance as an integral part of the film's classic status. She proved her talents in comedy with the delightful Casanova Brown (1944), but then saw her schedule slow down due to domesticity. After she married screenwriter Niven Busch in 1942, she gave birth to son, Niven Jr., in 1944, and took two years off to look after her family. She soon returned to film with another Wyler project, the Oscar®-winning, post war drama, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing Fredric March's level-headed daughter, Peggy, she again took some time off after giving birth to her daughter, Mary in 1947. On her second attempt to return to the big screen, Wright found her popularity on the wane. Her wholesome image was in sharp contrast of the tougher, more modern women in post-war Hollywood, and her stubborn refusal to pose for any swimsuit or cheesecake photos to alter her image led to her release from Sam Goldwyn's contract. As a freelance actress, Wright still found some good roles, notably as a young widow in the thriller scripted by her husband, in The Capture; and as a faithful fiancée trying to help Marlin Brandon deal with his amputation in Stanley Kramer's The Men (both 1950). Yet within a few years, she was playing middle-aged mothers in film like The Actress (1953), and The Track of the Cat (1954), even though she was still in her early '30s. By the mid-50s she found work in live television, where she could apply her stage training, in a number of acclaimed shows: Playhouse 90, General Electric Theater, Four Star Playhouse, and The United States Steel Hour. She took a break from acting when she married her second husband, the playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, (she had divorced her first husband, Busch, in 1952) and was out of the public eye for several decades, save for an isolated theater appearance. When she did return, it was intermittent, but she was always worth watching. In James Ivory's Roseland (1977), a portrait of the New York dancehall; she was poignant as a talkative widow obsessed with her late husband; and as an enigmatic old actress in Somewhere in Time, she nearly stole the picture from leads, Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour. She was still active in the '90s, appearing a few hit shows: Murder, She Wrote, Picket Fences; and a final film role in John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997). She is survived by her son, Niven; daughter, Mary; and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was A Matter of Life and Death. Although Jack Elam's character name appears in the film itself as "Vern," reviews, CBCS and the copyright cutting continuity spell the name "Verne." According to contemporary news items, prior to selling his independent production to RKO head Howard Hughes, Benedict Bogeaus bought star MacDonald Carey's interest in the picture for $50,000. Modern sources indicate that United Artists was first set to distribute the film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring April 4, 1953

Released in United States Spring April 4, 1953