12 Hours to Kill is a B-movie noir from 1960 that caught my eye based on Barbara Eden in a starring role. This film is based on a mystery serial from The Saturday Evening Post written by Richard Stern. The film is directed by Edward L. Cahn who looks to be a prolific B-movie director of mostly Sci-Fi and Horror films. I am not to familiar with his work and don’t recognize most of his films.
Our protagonist is played by Nico Minardos who plays a Greek Immigrant fresh off the boat in New York City. It looks like Minardos mostly worked in one-off appearances on varies television shows for the next 25 or so years.
The story starts with our hero minding his business in his hotel room late at night looking out the window when he witnesses a gangland slaying. He goes to the cops and we have two higher-ups listen to his story. They know they have a leak in the police force so the two keep it secret and send our hero and witness to a small town. On the train Minardos meets a beautiful women,Barbara Eden, going to the same town. Somebody leaks the eye witnesses identity to the press and from here we just have characters chasing each other, not knowing who to trust and who not to.
Barbara Eden is the high light of this film, though her character doesn’t ring true. She plays a women that is helps a total stranger, that she knows is in trouble, with no questions asked and is happy to do it. Maybe at the end of the 1950’s this single strong happy to help female existed, but to me she seems to go out of her way a little to easy. She does light up the screen and is very likable, if not believable.
This film has a few scenes which look brilliant. I liked the opening scene of the gangland slaying, also the scene where our hero gets off the train and sees the bad guys waiting for him. The movie does miss the mark elsewhere, for instance I liked some of the hand to hand fighting later in the film, but the editing doesn’t make a lot of sense. The train scene with the little dog had potential, but doesn’t fit well with the rest of the film and seems drawn out and long. I don’t have a degree in film and only know what I like, but I honestly feel this film could have went from a below average noir to something a bit better with some stronger editing alone.
This film doesn’t seem to have a very big following and I can understand why. When looking at reviews on various sites, I found saying like “almost noir-esque suspense/drama” and “pretty much a by the numbers wannabe noir.” I would say this is definitely a noir, it’s just not a great noir or even a very good one. This is for noir fans that want to see everything or big fans of Barbara Eden. It is not a total waste but If you are new to noir, I would start somewhere else.
Favorite Tidbit: T.V. greats Gavin MacLeod and Ted Knight both appear in this movie in smaller roles, though they don’t have any scenes together. They would of course go on to star together in The Mary Tyler Moore Show.