7.1/10
870
24 user 36 critic

Hell Is a City (1960)

In Britain, a Manchester police inspector becomes obsessed with capturing a criminal who escapes from prison.

Director:

Val Guest

Writers:

Val Guest (screenplay), Maurice Procter (novel)
Reviews
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Stanley Baker ... Det. Inspector Harry Martineau
John Crawford ... Don Starling
Donald Pleasence ... Gus Hawkins
Maxine Audley ... Julia Martineau
Billie Whitelaw ... Chloe Hawkins
Joseph Tomelty ... Furnisher Steele
George A. Cooper ... Doug Savage
Geoffrey Frederick Geoffrey Frederick ... Det. Devery
Vanda Godsell ... Lucretia 'Lucky' Lusk
Charles Houston ... Clogger Roach
Joby Blanshard ... Tawny Jakes
Charles Morgan Charles Morgan ... Laurie Lovett
Peter Madden ... Bert Darwin
Dickie Owen Dickie Owen ... Bragg
Lois Daine Lois Daine ... Cecily
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Storyline

Committed but seen-it-all police inspector Martineau rightly guesses that after a violent jailbreak a local criminal will head home to Manchester to pick up the spoils from his last job. Martineau is soon investigating a murder during a street robbery which seems to lead back to the same villain. Concentrating on the case and using his local contacts to try and track the gang down, he is aware he is not keeping his own personal life together as well as he might. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

From its roof-top suspense to its back-alley violence... See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 November 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hetzjagd See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP115,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(original)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is shot "in Hammerscope". See more »

Goofs

The dead girl on the moors appears to blink but in fact she doesn't and it is her hair blowing in front of her eyes which causes this illusion. See more »

Quotes

Inspector Martineau: You on or off duty?
Devery: I'm just going off.
Inspector Martineau: Come on, I'll buy you a drink.
Devery: Well it's very nice of you, but I'm afraid...
Inspector Martineau: Teach her to wait. That's one thing a policeman's girl must always learn.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"The production of this film was greatly assisted by the full cooperation of the Chief Constable and the members of the Manchester City Police Force, for which the producers wish to express their thanks." (opening credit) See more »

Connections

Featured in Charters & Caldicott: Not Cricket (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

Why do we always try to be like America?
19 November 2001 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Inspector Harry Martineau is a hard-edged police man in gritty Manchester. When a major criminal, Don Stirling, escapes from jail by killing a guard Martineau makes it his person responsibility to hunt him down. Stirling gets his old gang together to steal £4000 from wealthy businessman Gus. However the theft goes wrong and a young girl is killed and the money begins to leave behind a trail that will lead to the gang.

This desperately wants to be an English 1950's American style film noir. It has the gritty urban title, it has a moody lead actor with an iffy moral code, a pumping jazz soundtrack and is surprisingly tough. It isn't completely successful because of one main problem - it's in England. In Manchester. It's tough even for someone who lives here to take it as seriously as the Bogart-esque equivalents. It's an unfair criticism perhaps but it is off-putting to hear the thick Yorkshire accents in the setting of an urban crime drama.

There is quite a lot to like here. The plot is interesting with gritty levels, the whole idea of the money being dyed and staining hands is a good concept and only seems stretched occasionally and is actually a very effective way of leaving a money trail. The jazz score does give the film a real feel of a urban crime zone, but at times it feels a bit out of place with some of the scenes.

The 2 lead performances are mixed in their roles. Stanley Baker is good as Martineau mixing the role with a bad guy edge by being distant from his wife etc, but he isn't as convincing as his American equivalents. You never are totally convinced that he is anything but a good guy, with his only real faults being his commitment to work over his wife. John Crawford is better as Stirling who benefits from not having an English accent. He plays the violent, cruel criminal well and is totally convincing. It's also good to see Donald Pleasance in a small role as Gus, but his accent is frighteningly thick.

The film is surprisingly tough. I assumed that this would be a lesser film because it's British but this has quite strong language (although not by today's standards) and is very violent considering when it was made. There is quite a bit of violence towards women all of which gives the film a much more believable very tough edge that adds to it's credentials as a crime thriller.

Overall a strong attempt to make a British film noir. It loses something with Baker being too clean-cut in his role and the Manchester setting and accents are hard to line up mentally with the action. But hey - it's pretty good.


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