Don't Bother to Knock Review
The Story:Jed (Richard Widmark), an airline pilot, has just arrived home to the McKinley Hotel to meet up with his girlfriend Lyn (Anne Bancroft) who sings in the hotel's bar. Things turn sour though when she ditches him without giving him much of an explanation. Retiring to his room with a bottle of cheap alcohol, he notices Nell (Marilyn Monroe) dancing around in her room across the yard. Nell has just arrived in Manhattan from Oregon and is staying with her Uncle Eddie (Elisha Cook Jr.) who got her a job babysitting for some of the hotel's guests. However, she seems to have been severe traumatised by her ex-boyfriend and doesn't exactly seem to be the best person to be babysitting a cheeky eight-year old. Still, excited by the prospect of a male conquest, she invites Jed over...
Don't Bother... was one of Monroe first real lead role and one of the few truly dramatic roles from her canon. Scripted by the talented Daniel Taradash (From Here to Eternity, Knock on Every Door), Don't bother... seems to labour through the motions of suspense building and wears thin within the first 60 minutes. The performances on the other hand are quite good - Monroe comes through quite well as the unstable babysitter (although her trademark breathiness is ever present) and Widmark plays his role ambiguously enough to keep us interested in him. The supporting cast perform their duties correctly with some excellent performances from Jim Backus as the daughter's father and the unrecognisable Anne Bancroft as the miffed bar singer. The cinematography sadly lacks the imagination that is needed to avoid that B movie feeling that emanates from Don't Bother.... Interestingly enough, the British director Roy Baker ended up after a few directing the likes of The Avengers and The Saint.
Understandably this is seen by many as a minor Monroe: although this performance probably helped her career no end, the film itself, though not lacking in charm, fails to really convince.
The image:The image although correct throughout seems quite grainy at times and although this is only vaguely noticeable it creates a slightly blurry impression in some scenes. Also the luminosity is at times unstable causing a flickering effect in some scenes. It remains that the print has been quite well restored as there were virtually no visible marks on the print. Some artifcating does seem to affect some of the backgrounds but is hardly detectable. As this was originally filmed in fullscreen, we understandably don't get an anamorphic transfer. A competent if not perfect transfer.
The sound:The sound is the original mono and sounds absolutely fine. Although some scenes sound slightly muffled this is hardly noticeable. Overall a very clear soundtrack.
The menus:The usual still type - nothing to get excited about but they're simple and functional.
The extras:We get the original theatrical which is worth seeing just for the voice over by Richard Widmark - running for almost 3 minutes, the quality is quite rough but acceptable. A stills gallery is also included with 20 or so on-set photos and other promotional shots of Marilyn. We also get a short feature comparing the source material to the restored version - this lasts about 40 seconds and demonstrates that they did do quite good work restoring all the print damage.
Conclusions:Although most definitely a minor film in Monroe's short career, it does feature a strong dramatic performance from her which makes up for the overall low-key nature of the film. By no means a classic but a decent enough effort which is given a good transfer.