Four Hours to Kill!

Four Hours to Kill! is a 1935 American drama film directed by Mitchell Leisen and starring Richard Barthelmess.[1][2]

Four Hours to Kill!
Theatrical release poster (Spain)
Directed byMitchell Leisen
Produced byArthur Hornblow Jr.
Written byNorman Krasna
Based onSmall Miracle (play)
by Norman Krasna
StarringRichard Barthelmess
CinematographyTheodor Sparkuhl
Edited byDoane Harrison
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • April 11, 1935 (1935-04-11)
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States


Taft, a policeman, has fugitive murderer Tony Mako in custody and in handcuffs, two thousand miles from the prison from which Mako escaped. With four hours to kill, Taft takes his prisoner to a theater where the cop's wife, Mae, is a hostess.

Mae is an unfaithful schemer. She is trying to extort $200 from coat-check kid Eddie, insinuating she is pregnant. Eddie doesn't want his fiancee Helen to hear this, true or otherwise, so he tries to raise the money to pay Mae's blackmail. Eddie is also suspected of stealing an expensive piece of jewelry.

Mako made the journey this far in the hope of gaining revenge against Anderson, a man who informed on him. After telling Taft he would prefer a quick death to a painful execution, Mako breaks free and shoots Anderson before being shot by Taft, dying the kind of death he wanted. Eddie is cleared and now free to marry Helen, while Mae is taken away to jail.



Paramount bought the film rights to the stage play in December 1934.[3]


The New York Times called it "a gripping, although extremely theatrical, melodrama with a neatly dovetailed plot, a uniformly excellent cast and well paceed direction".[4]

Proposed remake

In 1944 Paramount Pictures announced it would create a new film adaptation of Small Miracle, the play that was the basis of Four Hours to Kill. Leisen was to direct the new version; Alan Ladd in the lead. The project was not realized.[5]

In 1947 Jack LaRue presented a stage version.[6]


  1. Nugent, Frank Stanley (April 11, 1935). "Movie Review: Four Hours to Kill". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  2. Four Hours to Kill Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 2, Iss. 13, (Jan 1, 1935): 86.
  3. Paramount Acquires New York Stage Hit The Washington Post December 9, 1934: ST2.
  4. At the Paramount. F.S.N. New York Times April 11, 1935: 27.
  5. "Screen News Here and in Hollywood". The New York Times. January 17, 1944. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  6. EQUITY STAGE UNIT TO CUT PRODUCTION: New York Times (25 Oct 1947: 13.
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