This month, the Criterion Channel is featuring a collection of films by Marilyn Monroe. I've seen quite a few of her films, so was pleasantly surprised to discover a film I'd not seen before, Don't Bother to Knock, which also has Anne Bancroft providing some lovely lounge music and Richard Widmark looking for love in all the wrong places.
"The way you treat people. The way you think about them. All you can focus on is the cold outside of things, the simple facts. Not any causes of why's or wherefores. Oh, you're sweet. And you're fun. And you're hard. And you lack something that I ask for in a man."
Jed the airline pilot has been jilted by his lounge singing girlfriend Lyn, who complains that he lacks an understanding heart. He goes up to his hotel room to drown his sorrows when he spies the lovely Nell Forbes through a window in a room across the court from his. Unbeknownst to him, Nell has been tasked with babysitting and has been keeping herself occupied by trying on the jewels and loungewear belonging to the child's mother. He invites himself over and soon discovers she is a very troubled and dangerous young woman. On the plus side, it helps him develop an understanding heart, which convinces Lyn to give him a second chance.
I enjoyed this film because of the impressive performance given by Marilyn Monroe. She effectively conveyed her character's emotional disturbance through a range of expressions that could easily have become laughable, but instead were believable. It was a suspenseful story with several of the characters' lives in danger, and while it's a watchable film, it's not an entirely exciting story altogether. Anne Bancroft gets to show off her sultry lounge singing style, Elisha Cook portrays the caring and concerned uncle, while Jim Backus gets a limited amount of time on camera to yuk it up, and Richard Widmark plays a not entirely bad guy, though not a great guy either. It's worth watching if you're interested in seeing Monroe's range of talent or enjoy tales of psychotic women.