Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Desperate Hours (1955) - Film Locations

Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March

Two of the greatest actors of Hollywood's golden era, Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March, square off in the film The Desperate Hours (1955). Bogart is an escaped convict on the run. March is a suburban family man. The two butt heads when Bogart, with a couple fellow escapees, hold March and his family hostage in their Indianapolis home. Bogart is hiding out until he can collect his getaway money and he isn't going to let anyone interfere with collecting his dough. March strategizes a way to get out of his predicament and will do whatever it takes to protect his family. The tension that Bogart and March create in this standoff is absolutely thrilling!

Although the home where March and his family live is supposed to be in Indianapolis, it is actually a building that once stood on the Universal Studios Hollywood Colonial Street backlot. The home, known as the "Paramount House," was originally built on the Universal lot by Paramount specifically for The Desperate Hours. After the film, the house stayed and would be used again numerous times in other films and for television. The house has also appeared in the films All That Heaven Allows (1955), The Shaggy Dog (1959) and Send Me No Flowers (1964) and TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Adam 12, but it is likely most recognizable as the house from Leave it to Beaver. Beginning in season 3, when the Leave it to Beaver show moved from the old Republic Studios lot (now CBS Studio Center) to Universal, the Cleaver family settled into the former Paramount House.

Click images to see larger.

The Paramount House as it appears in The Desperate Hours.

The Paramount House April 2010. Photo (c)

The Cleaver family in front of the Paramount House.

The Paramount House would sit on Universal's Colonial Street backlot until 1989. When production started on the 1989 film, The Burbs, the Paramount House was moved to another area of the Universal lot above Falls Lake to make room for new facades.

Another view of Universal's Colonial Street. The Desperate Hours.

The same view of Colonial Street as seen in Leave it to Beaver.

The "Keller House" on Colonial Street as seen in The Desperate Hours.

The "Keller House" as seen in Leave it to Beaver.

The Desperate Hours is an exciting film directed by William Wyler. In addition to Bogart and March, the film also stars Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin, Gig Young, and Alan Reed (best known as the voice of Fred Flintstone). The Desperate Hours is available on DVD.

For more information visit the site dedicated to Leave It To Beaver. This page is filled with images of Colonial Street and it's history involving the Cleaver family. Also check out, another great site loaded with information on Colonial Street (as well as other film studios).


Silver Screenings said...

Great post! This is a terrific film and it's easy to forget it was done on a studio backlot.

Robby Cress said...

Thanks Silver Screenings. I agree, the film is so well done that for me too, I didn't get distracted with the thought that it all happened on a studio backlot.


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