Picks and Pans Review: Desperate Hours

updated 10/29/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/29/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Mickey Rourke, Anthony Hopkins

Using (he 10 point must system, here's a comparison of this film and the 1955 movie it is a remake of:

PLOT (1955: 10; 1990: 9): Little is changed. A psycho escapes from prison and, with his younger brother and a thuggish accomplice, takes a family hostage in a randomly chosen suburban house. In the remake, however, the home is owned by a couple that have separated, and the psycho's lawyer girlfriend helps him escape, then is sorry and gets unsorry again and...Anyway, it's more confusing.

STARS (1955: 10: 1990: 8): While Rourke isn't bad as the psycho, he's no Humphrey Bogart. and the imposing Fredric March was made of sterner stuff than Hopkins as the suburban husband. Mimi Rogers, however, is a more effective wife than colorless Martha Scott was.

SCRIPT (1990: 10; 1955: 9): The 1990 script uses the marital discord effectively; Rogers even ends up blaming Hopkins for the fact that Rourke chose their house. And Rourke doesn't have the line Bogart had to say to the younger brother: "Ain't I always learned youse?"

DIRECTION (1955: 10; 1990: 8): William Wyler's old version stuck to the point and raised the claustrophobia quotient. Now Michael Cimino dwells on wildly gratuitous, gaping shots of the legs and bare chest of Kelly Lynch, who plays Rourke's lawyer, and stages a chaotic finale.

INCIDENTALS (1990: 10; 1955: 9): Lindsay Crouse's quirky portrayal of an FBI agent helps the new film, as does the energetic escape sequence. Dewey Martin was better as the brother, though, than Eli-as (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) Koteas is.

DECISION: Looks unanimous for renting the 1955 version and saving the ticket and baby-sitting costs. Cimino, however, redeems his ranking a bit by making a relatively straightforward, watchable film. (R)

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