THE NIGHT HOLDS TERROR. Columbia Pictures, 1955. Jack Kelly, Hildy Parks, Vince Edwards, John Cassavetes, David Cross. Screenwriter-director: Andrew L. Stone.

   The moral of this story is simple. Never pick up hitchhikers. That’s the mistake that Gene Courtier (Jack Kelly) makes. Giving a ride to Vince Edwards leads to a gang of three young hoodlums, including a very youthful John Cassevetes, taking over Kelly’s home and terrorizing his wife (Hildy Parks) and two small children.

   The set-up is promising, but the fact is that the gang doesn’t really seem to have a plan in mind — first forcing Kelly to sell his car, then holding him for a ransom to be paid by his rich father. They go through the motions, but none of the three has the hair-trigger level of viciousness vthat would keep the viewer (me, that is, in this case) at the edge of his seat.

   They also commit too many dumb mistakes, making their ultimate downfall all but preordained, in a wrap-up that, once the police are called in, is all too perfunctory. With the cast that this one has, it’s hardly uninteresting, but given a choice, you’d be better off watching The Desperate Hours instead, a film made the same year, but one that’s far better structured.