The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York); 6 Aug. 1952; pg. 17.
“PARAMOUNT–Don’t Bother to Knock: Jed Towers, Richard Widmark; Nell, Marilyn Monroe; Lyn Leslie, Anne Bancroft; Bunny, Donna Corcoran; Eddie, Elisha Cook, Jr. Produced for 20th Century Fox by Julian Blaustein. Directed by Roy Baker.
Paramount’s new picture on screen yesterday, Don’t Bother to Knock, must have offered a surprise to fans who were well aware of the incendiary quality of the star actors in the cast of the film story. There were Richard Widmark, whose rise to fame thru his unforgettable characterization of a very bad guy; Marilyn Monroe, whose curvaceous charms would naturally ticket her as “just another clothes horse” with ideal physical measurements and a pretty face, and the new Anne Bancroft, who came to movies thru her gift of song on radio and TV.
But the story adapted from Charlotte Armstrong’s novel, provided several new twists in its episodes and called for superior acting from all three stars, likewise a large supporting cast. The action, directed by the imported British Roy Baker, takes place in one single evening in the McKinley Hotel, and you are led to believe you are present in the bar, lobby, cafe, elevator, in upstairs rooms and even in outside looking up at its lighted windows.
Miss Bancroft, who supplies several nice interludes of mike singing in the cafe, opens the story as she, Lyn Leslie, talks to the bartender, Willis B. Bouchey about her decision to break up with her boyfriend, Jed Towers, a commercial pilot with war flying behind him. She thinks he lacks ordinary “human sympathy. He’s fun of course, but doesn’t seem to realize that ‘people are people.’” She told him they are thru a note.
This switches to Jed’s room where Widmark as Jed is trying to figure his brushoff out. Watch Widmark. That advice isn’t necessary, because he will compel you to see him with every gesture, expression of his eyes and bodily reaction to the amazing experience which awaits him.
Elevator operator Eddie brings his niece Nell (Miss Monroe) down to the hotel to baby-sit for little Donna Corcoran, Bunny. She is just out of a hospital where she suffered a mental lapse when her fiance was killed as a war flier. Jed has his cafe quarrel with Lyn and upstairs in his room, catches a glimpse of Nell, dancing around in finery of Bunny’s mother;s in the room across from the court. He phones the room and is invited to “come over,” which he promptly does with a bottle of rye.
From then on, the plot is intricate; tension builds up in rapid sequences with plenty of humor sandwiched in, and an astonishing happy ending emerges from some of the most hectic moments a movie screen has ever registered. It’s a good melodramatic story and Miss Monroe turns in a performance which will convince her “clothes horse” pinup fans that here is a girl who can actually act. And Widmark reveals more of his real personality than even he could know. You’ll like Anne Bancroft and doubtless will be seeing and hearing more of her.
The supporting cast is good and the camera man is focused on the right angles to illustrate the brilliant script.