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Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Bancroft, Donna Corcoran, Jeanne Cagney ... see more see more... , Lurene Tuttle , Elisha Cook Jr. , Jim Backus , Verna Felton , Willis B. Bouchey , Don Beddoe , Gloria Blondell , Grace Hayle , Michael Ross , Vic Perrin , Dick Cogan , Robert Foulk , Olan Soule , Emmett Vogan , Eda Reiss Merin

Sex symbol Marilyn Monroe went dramatic in 1952's Don't Bother to Knock. Monroe plays Nell Forbes, a beautiful but suicidal young woman, recently released from a mental institution. She doesn't mentio... read more read more...n this on her resumé when she takes a baby-sitting job in a posh hotel. Jed Towers (Richard Widmark), a hotel guest, tries to make time with Nell after his own girlfriend, played by Anne Bancroft, has told him to take a hike. As Nell and Jed neck on the couch, the little girl whom Nell is tending (Donna Corcoran) surprises the spooning couple. This drives the psychotic Nell over the edge, forcing Jed to try to keep the baby-sitter from killing both herself and the child. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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75% liked it

4,149 ratings


100% liked it

8 critics

Unrated, 1 hr. 16 min.

Directed by: Roy Ward Baker

Release Date: July 18, 1952

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DVD Release Date: May 14, 2002

Stats: 194 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (194)

  • September 12, 2011
    this probably is monroe's best performance, playing an unstable character very close to the edge and she is genuinely scary. richard widmark gives great support as a frustrated guy just trying to make time whose cynicism grows into compassion. and anne bancroft looks smashing i... read moren her film debut. suspenseful and underrated.
  • November 7, 2010
    Monroe's best performance if you ask me, and Widmark gives a great performance as well along with her. The story is great it's dramatic and exciting. I highly recommend this movie.
  • June 28, 2010
    I think this movie is best experienced if you don't know it's a thriller at all. The slow progression of madness that takes over Marilyn Monroe is incredible. I love that it starts out like a romantic comedy or drama and then has Nell the babysitter from hell tying up children an... read mored falling psychotically in love with the man across the building. My only complaint for this movie is that I wanted more, it gives Hitchcock a run for his money and is a lot better than some of his early stuff.
  • June 22, 2010
    Whoa. Marilyn Monroe freaked me out!! I didn't even know she could act! Hah! I'm impressed there was acting and I did like the story especially for 1952. A good psycho story always does me well. I liked it and it drew me in from the very beginning. I'd totally watch this again, i... read moref not only for Marilyn's CRAZY eyes.
  • March 27, 2007
    interesting early marilyn, richard widmark is always good. anne bancroft's first movie
  • January 26, 2013
    This surprised me to have the typical sexy Monroe turn lunatic. Then to have the movie be so short left me satisfied with this subtle thriller. Bancroft also added a great alternate appeal to Monroe's allure. Her relationship with Widmark was especially good to have them reconcil... read moree at the end. The whole situation with the child also entertained, and then to throw in so many factors like the lift attendant and the nosy neighbors made for a compelling film.
  • February 21, 2011
    From what I read, this movie was the ploy to stay within the studio contract system but show them that Monroe could act. I never thought of Monroe as being a prop or fashion sucker (credit ATR) as much as a tragic figure from a messed up upbringing that was able to use the Hollyw... read moreood system to satisfy a dream. And she dreamed of glamour and adoration. And she knew she could get it through acting. So she tried damn hard at it.

    I think this movie is a very good movie considering it was made in the system and winin code. Obviously things like the little girl at the window and other key scenes weren't going to play out like you would think now that we've seen movies from that time, but then it must have been masterstroke. And Monroe is great in it. This is a great role for what can be described as model looks that portend to hide no brain. Because it takes some brains to pull it off.

    I laughed at some of the prop and studio usage and they introduce side characters from what seems out of nowhere, but this is a decent movie to check out if you like suspense movies of the time or are just a fan of Monroe or the other stars.
  • January 4, 2011
    B-grade dialogue delivered by A-list stars. Not a bad way to spend an hour and fifteen minutes. Richard Widmark is especially interesting to watch.
  • August 7, 2010
    A film that quite possibly showcased Monroe playing herself, especially late in her career. Nell was unstable and not able to handle the pressures of the outside world (hence the metaphor of being a sort of live-in nanny, cut off from the rest of the world but protected as well).... read more Monroe's's late-career personal troubles and demons were well documented and attested by her suicide. Even though this film was early on in her career it offers a chilling and eerie view of what's to come for the legendary actress. They say the best of the best actors and actresses draw upon their very souls to come up with their startling performances. I think Monroe was pulling from her very core in this film. Worth a viewing and analysis.
  • October 21, 2009
    Solid thriller with a very insightful performance from Marilyn Monroe, Richard Widmark does a fine job as well. It always held my interest and wasn't predictable. Well done.

Critic Reviews

Dennis Schwartz
February 15, 2011
Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Wacko psychological thriller. Full Review

Jeffrey M. Anderson
October 10, 2008
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid

A snappy little 76-minute, black-and-white item, this film noir dared to look at the dark side of Monroe's giggly sex appeal. Full Review

James Sanford
October 7, 2004
James Sanford, Kalamazoo Gazette

Monroe goes borderline-psycho in an enjoyable thriller

Pablo Villaca
July 25, 2003
Pablo Villaca, Cinema em Cena

Drama realizado para provar que Monroe era boa atriz, é até bem sucedido em certo grau, pois ela desempenha razoavelmente bem seu papel. O problema é que o roteiro não desenvolve muito a história, que...

Christopher Null
April 27, 2002
Christopher Null,

Fairly satisfying Full Review

September 17, 2008

Click to read the article Full Review

June 24, 2006
Time Out

Click to read the article Full Review

Bosley Crowther
March 25, 2006
Bosley Crowther, New York Times

Click to read the article Full Review

Susan Granger
May 26, 2007
Susan Granger,

No review available.

Emanuel Levy
July 30, 2005
Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com

No review available.

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Don't Bother to K... : Watch Free on TV

Don't Bother to Knock Trivia

  • Who starred in all three of the following films; 'Bus Stop', 'Don't Bother To Knock' and 'River Of No Return'?  Answer »
  • Which film did Audrey Hepburn NOT star in?  Answer »
  • Who played the deranged babysitter in "Don't Bother To Knock"?   Answer »

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