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Three teenagers, led by psychopathic Jess Reber, break into an isolated farmhouse and murder its prosperous owner whose secretary, Linda Atlas, witnesses the crime. The three thugs decide to hold her hostage. Detective Tony Atlas, perplexed by the sudden disappearance of Betty, his estranged wife, tries desperately to locate her.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Home invasion movies were popular during this period (1950's), maybe as a way of injecting fear into audiences from comfortably expanding suburbs. Here three young hoods invade an old man's home, kill him, while traumatizing the young son with his mother who's there as a stenographer. Unbeknownst to the hoods is that mom's the wife of a cop sergeant, so when the speechless boy is found, a police hunt is launched, led by the agonized husband father. So what will the quarreling hoods do with hostage mom as the cops close in.
It's an interesting cast with Barrymore Jr. as the murderous hood, Corey Allen from Rebel Without a Cause (1955) as the conflicted gang member, and Jerry Mathers of Leave It To
Beaver (1957- 63) as the unfortunate boy. Also, probably shouldn't overlook actress Garrett as the mom, whose budding musical career was stymied by the Hollywood blacklist.
All in all, the flick's a pretty good suspenser of the sort that would soon transfer to TV, maybe The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Barrymore makes a convincingly nasty hood, while Garrett bears up as the terrified mom, even as Mathers manages a frozen face as the traumatized boy. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised his performance helped get him the defining Beaver role. There're also some good action sequences like the chase over rooftops that help pick up the indoor menace scenes. Also, battling among the three hoods offers interesting personality clashes, especially the woman-protecting Joey. Is he really stupid or just quietly enigmatic. On the whole, however, the 76-minutes is nothing special, but should keep watchers entertained as the crime drama plays out in fairly suspenseful fashion.
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