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Private Hell 36 (1954)

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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 552 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 18 critic

When 2 detectives steal $80,000 from a dead robber, one of them suffers from a guilty conscience which could lead to murder.



(written for the screen by), (written for the screen by)
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Title: Private Hell 36 (1954)

Private Hell 36 (1954) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Complete credited cast:
Lilli Marlowe
Steve Cochran ...
Cal Bruner
Jack Farnham
Capt. Michaels
Francey Farnham
Bridget Duff ...
Bridget Farnham
Jerry Hausner ...
Hausner, Nightclub Owner
Sam Marvin, Bartender
Christopher L. O'Brien ...
Coroner (as Chris O'Brien)
Kenneth Patterson ...
Det. Lieutenant Lubin (as Ken Patterson)
George Dockstader ...
Delivery Boy


Two detectives are investigating a robbery in which $300,000 was taken. Their investigation leads them to the main player and they find the cash, but one of them has meanwhile fallen hard for a woman with expensive tastes, and though he desperately wants to keep her, he knows that a cop's salary isn't going to be enough for her. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THEY LIVE BY NIGHT... (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 September 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Baby Face Killers  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The little baby girl who appears at the beginning of the movie is the daughter of Howard Duff and Ida Lupino. See more »


At the very end, when Farnham is leaning wounded against the trailer, he says he recognizes the voice of a police officer as being the voice of the "partner", the mysterious man who called to get the money back. However, it is Bruner, and not Farnham, who had him on the phone. Farnham would not be able to recognize his voice. See more »


Lilli Marlowe: Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed I'd meet a drunken slob in a bar who'd give me fifty bucks and we'd live happily ever after.
See more »


Didn't You Know?
Written by John Franco
Performed by Ida Lupino (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

A Must-Have for Cochran Fans
5 May 2003 | by (Out there in the dark) – See all my reviews

PRIVATE HELL 36 has one of those pulp-sounding titles that are like a drug for noir enthusiasts. We just have to see any film with a title like this, even if in some ways it may be a disappointment. One of Don Siegal's less galvanizing films, PRIVATE HELL still delivers in terms of noir situations and atmosphere.

Where the film really excels, however, is with the cast. In major roles, Howard Duff and Dean Jagger deliver the goods. Duff is especially adept at the hang-dog, trapped noir protagonist. And this is one of many small-scale noirs with many familiar faces in bit parts: Richard Deacon, Dabbs Greer, King Donovan. Dorothy Malone had yet to come into her own as an actress, but she looks incredible here.

Malone might have seemed a better choice for the Femme Fatale lead, were it not for Ida Lupino's extraordinary, iconic noir presence. Something in Lupino's vaguely exotic face and world-weary voice belongs eternally to the noir universe. She may have been a few years too old, but her spider-like character rescues the film from the merely routine.

Also rescuing the film, and raising it a few notches above a B programmer, is Steve Cochran as Cal Bruner. Somewhat belatedly (he died in 1965) it appears that Cochran is finally receiving recognition not only for his handsome looks, but for his perceptive acting. Every scene with Lupino and Cochran in this film is riveting. These performers are totally convincing in their doomed mutual attraction.

For Lupino's Lili, meeting Cal could have meant redemption. But she is indeed a Femme Fatale in this film, even if not an all-time classic one. The man she touches will be marked for destruction.

Cal, on the other hand, is the most complex and interesting character. His responsible investigator, by way of a drug-like obsession with Lili, heads toward corruption in true noir style. Without spoiling anything, it can be said that this film's last 10 minutes are the very stuff of film noir.

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