5.9/10
334
19 user 7 critic

Hell Below Zero (1954)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 15 January 1954 (Japan)
The captain of an Antarctic whaling ship falls overboard in mysterious circumstances and his daughter, aided by a sympathetic American, decides to investigate the accident.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Duncan Craig
Joan Tetzel ...
Judie Nordhal
Basil Sydney ...
Bland
...
Erik Bland
Joseph Tomelty ...
Capt. McPhee
...
Dr. Howe
Jill Bennett ...
Gerda Petersen
Peter Dyneley ...
Miller
Susan Rayne ...
Kathleen
Philo Hauser ...
Sandeborg
Ivan Craig ...
Larsen
Paddy Ryan ...
Manders
Cyril Chamberlain ...
Paul Homer ...
Kista Dan Radio Operator
...
Ulvik
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Storyline

Duncan Craig signs on a whaling ship, partly because his own business deal has fallen through, partly to help Judie Nordhall find her father. Rumor has it that her father may have been murdered by Erik Bland, son of her father's partner and her one-time lover. Duncan and Erik find themselves on rival whaleboats and, ultimately, on an ice floe. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Alan Ladd in a whale of an adventure! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

15 January 1954 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The White South  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Kista Dan is an actual Class-1 icebreaker built in1952 that was used in the Antartic region, including work on establishing the first permanent workstation in Antartica called Mawson Station. See more »

Goofs

During scenes set in the Antarctic, at supposedly below zero (Celsius) temperatures, we never see breath vapor. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Fairly average adventure with not a great deal to offer
16 July 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Duncan Craig and Judie Nordhall meet on a plane heading out to the Antarctic and win each other over during the flight. He has come for a business opportunity, she has come to disprove claims that her father, a whale ship captain, died by accident or by suicide – she believes it was murder and intends to prove it. When his business deal goes bad Duncan signs up with Judie's ship as first mate to help her in her quest. The ship in question is owned by John Bland – a hard man but nothing compared to his scheming son Erik, whom Duncan hears has had a hand in the death of Judie's father, a rumour that Duncan is very keen to quash.

Every inch the typical period adventure movie you expect it to be, this film opens with women in distress and a big strong man with a big wide chest there to help her in a big manly world of whaling. That it was this genre was no surprise but I had hoped it would be a good film rather than just being rather average and par for the course but sadly that is just what it was. The plot is fairly obvious and shuns logic and tension in favour of a more steady and predictable path that produces romance, stand-offs and the sort of fights where the bad guys line up with boxes raised just so that they can be hit by the hero and fall over. The characters seem to offer complex depths but unsurprisingly we stay on the surface of everything and really go nowhere with them as people. The story just about cuts it for a wet Saturday afternoon but don't expect any more than that.

What it does do well is use outdoor locations pretty well, although given that much of it is whale being cut up that may not be a good thing to everyone. The backdrops and sets are poor but the ice flows are convincing and bits of it do make the film stick in the mind but this is not enough to make it worth seeing for alone. The cast are actually outdone by the location use and most of them are too stiff to convince. Ladd does just what you expect and if that is enough for you then fine – I accepted him as part of the genre. Tetzel is poor, failing to have chemistry Ladd, failing to produce a real person and being outdone by Bennett, who makes a much more interesting and energetic female role. Sydney is stiff but Baker is good and it is just a shame that he didn't have more screen time (or a character whose motivations made sense).

Overall this is a solid but average adventure yarn with nothing particularly remarkable to recommend it for. Perhaps the use of real whaling ships is of interest to some but everything else is by the numbers stuff that did enough to meet what I had been expecting but nothing more than that.


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