EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|RANSOM! (director: Alex Segal; screenwriters: Cyril Hume/Richard Maibaum; cinematographer: Arthur E. Arling; editor: Ferris Webster; music: Jeff Alexander; cast: Glenn Ford (David G. Stannard), Donna Reed (Edith Stannard), Leslie Nielsen (Charlie Telfer), Ainslie Pryor (Al Stannard), Juano Hernandez (Jesse Chapman, butler), Robert Keith (Chief Jim Backett) Bobby Clark (Andy Stannard), Richard Gaines (Langly), Alexander Scourby (Dr. Gorman), Mabel Albertson (Mrs. Patridge), Robert Burton (Sheriff Jake Kessing), Juanita Moore Shirley, maid); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Nicholas Nayfack; MGM; 1956)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
tense psychological thriller is based on the 1954 TV play
“Fearful Decision” by Cyril Hume and Richard
Maibaum, which starred Ralph Bellamy as the father. It
was remade in 1996
by Ron Howard and starred Mel Gibson. Director Alex
Segal ("Harlow"), who directed it on TV, does a fine
job in transferring
it to the big screen.
The obscure pic has remained under the radar and once in a while plays on
TCM (where I saw it).
industrialist David Stannard (Glenn Ford) is co-owner
with his older brother Al (Ainslie Pryor) of the successful Stannard Vacuum Cleaner
firm, which sells as a public stock, and has a happy
suburban home life with his ideal homemaker wife Edith
(Donna Reed) and his energetic bright
8-year-old son Andy (Bobby Clark). One
afternoon Andy fails to come home from his private
school and the parents soon learn he was kidnapped
from the school under the ruse that a nurse picked him
up to take him to his private physician's office. The
Chief of Police (Robert Keith) taps
the house phones, but his men are not fast enough to
nab the kidnapper's call for ransom of a half a million dollars.
At first the beleaguered dad is ready to pay, but
cynical experienced reporter Charlie Telfer (Leslie Nielsen) informs David the odds
are the same of getting back the kid whether you pay
or not. While his hysterical wife is sedated, the
cunning businessman goes on live TV and says he will
not pay the ransom but will offer a reward of $500,000
to hunt down the kidnapper and if not caught in the
next ten years will set-up a trust fund with his own
money (meanwhile returning the company's funds to
replace it with his funds) so other parents can use it
to capture their child's kidnapper.
There's a tender scene
where the stressed-out father is alone in his room and
contemplates if he made the right decision (thinking
that perhaps his gamble jeopardized his son's life
more, will leave his marriage in a broken state and
created an unneeded controversy for his company), as
it's believed the boy will turn up dead. The loyal
house servant (Juano
Hernandez) gently comforts the anguished father with
just the right soothing words and gestures, in the
film's most moving and genuine scene.
Though it can't get itself
untangled from being a teleplay, it still works out
well because it delivers the dramatics, it's
well-acted, it's intelligently presented and is always
REVIEWED ON 8/2/2011 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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