Wall Street. A hotel room. An open window.
The players? A waiter, a traffic cop and a hotel guest. Only the guest has disappeared…
There is another character, though, in 1951s’ noir-ish Fourteen Hours: the pre war architecture of lower Manhattan, which supports the missing guest (Richard Basehart), who has taken to the ledge outside his room at the Hotel Rodney.
This is a dark and Dickensian New York, one devoid of light white modernism (Lever House would only begin its Midtown construction in 1951), which does a perfect job of hiding the scared young man with a plan.
As the Manhattan and now Brooklyn skylines of 2016 constantly change it is revelatory to gaze back at the New York of 1951, one whose architectural landscape seems almost uniform in style.
Shot on location and named one of the ten best films of 1951, Henry Hathaway’s Fourteen Hours was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction and was based on a true story that appeared in The New Yorker in 1949: The Man on the Ledge by Joel Sayre.
In the dark and inky landscape of Fourteen Hours we are also introduced to the young Grace Kelly (making her cinematic debut), Ossie Davis (playing a cab driver), Richard Beymer (later of West Side Story) and John Cassavetes in an uncredited role.