Don’t Bother to Knock
Based on Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong
Marilyn Monroe, Richard Widmark, Elisha Cook Jr., Anne Bancroft,
Nell, a sullen, suppressed spirit more tempted than temptress, is hired to babysit a suburban brat in a Manhattan hotel. Jed, a pilot on layover, sees Nell as an easy landing and glides over to room 807, a bottle in his pocket. Charlotte Armstrong probably didn’t have Marilyn Monroe in mind when she created Nell (or maybe she did: Nell’s last name is Munro); however, Monroe infuses the character with the vulnerability inherent in Nell’s history of mental illness. Armstrong’s novel Mischief (1951) is heavy on parentheses; that’s where the thinking happens, showing that Nell is not the only unstable soul.