Don’t Bother to Knock (1952)

Don’t Bother To Knock finds airline pilot Richard Widmark flying with more than the safety of his passengers on his mind to New York. He’s on a mission to confront Anne Bancroft who’s given him a ‘let’s call it a day’ letter. Anne works as a singer in a posh New York nightclub attached to one of the fancier hotels. After a nasty scene with Bancroft, Widmark’s left with an itch to scratch.

The answer might be Marilyn Monroe across the courtyard looking real provocative and arousing Widmark’s interest. He gives her a call and things might be going good. Then the little girl, Donna Corcoran, wakes up from the next room and Marilyn starts to act very weird indeed.

This one was one of Marilyn’s first roles which exploited a little more than her beauty. She plays a troubled young lady who’s just spent some time in a mental institution. Her uncle Elisha Cook, Jr., got her that job as a babysitter for Corcoran whose parents Jim Backus and Jeanne Cagney are at a banquet in the hotel. Truth be told the role was no stretch for Marilyn given her own sad history.

Widmark’s not a particularly noble character here, but he’s a decent enough man. He’s just like millions of other men who when they lose their love, cure it with trying to love what’s available. Anne Bancroft makes a nice screen debut here although I can’t believe she sung those songs herself. If so, why didn’t she do any more singing on screen?

Though the film gets melodramatic and the characters don’t give you any real rooting interest, Don’t Bother To Knock remains a landmark film for the careers of both Marilyn Monroe and Anne Bancroft.