6.7/10
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28 user 19 critic

Private Hell 36 (1954)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 3 September 1954 (USA)
When 2 detectives steal $80,000 from a dead robber, one of them suffers from a guilty conscience which could lead to murder.

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Cast

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

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 frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 September 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Baby Face Killers  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

During the first stakeout sequence at Hollywood Park, Lilli complains that they've been "at this" for five days. But later that night, Cal remarks that it's been three days. See more »

Quotes

Jack Farnham: Wanting it and taking it are two different things...
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Connections

Featured in Pulp Cinema (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Alcohol, affectation, and ex-wives override any expectations
17 January 2009 | by (NYC suburbs) – See all my reviews

Independent filmmaker Ida Lupino didn't intend to make a B picture with PRIVATE HELL 36 but that's what happened. In the early 1950s, director/writer/actress Ida and her writer/producer husband Collier Young broke away from the studio system by forming "The Filmmakers" and they used it to tackle such topical subjects as rape and "ripped from the headlines" social commentary. Young and Lupino soon divorced but they kept their working relationship going and even used each other's new spouses in their "classy" exploitation films. Ida directed Collier's wife Joan Fontaine in THE BIGAMIST (1953) and her follow-up film was going to be "The Story Of A Cop" starring her husband, Howard Duff. At the time, big city police corruption and the Kefauver TV hearings on organized crime were hot-button issues that made national headlines and were inspiration to writers like William P. McGivern who fashioned roman-a-clefs in films like THE BIG HEAT (1953), SHIELD FOR MURDER, and ROGUE COP (both 1954). Never one to let a good story go by, Ida Lupino threw her bonnet into the ring but by the time she was ready to make "Cop", she and Duff had separated. They soon reconciled but, afraid to rock the boat, Ida decided not to direct her husband and hired Don Siegel, who had just made RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11, for the job. The result, now called PRIVATE HELL 36, is the story of L.A.P.D. partners Steve Cochran & Howard Duff and what happens when temptation proves too much for one of them. Lupino actually tackles themes that many Films Noirs have been accused of doing now and then: capitalism, materialism, and the American Dream are the mitigating circumstances propelling the self-inflicted problems everyone involved have to confront. Loyalty and "the blue wall of silence" are also thrown in for good measure but the character study the film becomes disrupts the pace. The movie starts off with a murder/robbery but the real action doesn't come until after the half-way mark; in between are slow build-ups involving family man Duff and his wife, Dorothy Malone, and the single Cochran who's fallen for a witness in the case, nightclub chanteuse Ida Lupino. Ida's a bit old for her role as a sympathetic "femme fatale" but the dynamics between her and the seemingly laid-back Cochran are one of the film's highlights. The movie takes too long by half to get where it's going but the ride is fascinating -as is the back story:

"Siegel was never comfortable working on the film and most of his memories of it are bad. He can remember little of it and readily admits that he may be blocking it out psychologically. The things he does remember are uniformly unpleasant. Siegel recalls there was a great deal of drinking on the set by the cast and producer. The script was never really in shape, ready for shooting, and Siegel was given little opportunity to work on it. He began to lose control of the picture, got into fights with Lupino and Young, had difficulty keeping Cochran sober, and got in the middle of arguments with his cameraman... One time, he recalls, Miss Lupino told Guffey that she wanted him to re-shoot something and even Guffey, whom Siegel describes as the mildest of men, exploded and became party to the bickering. 'I was terribly self-conscious on that picture,' recalls Siegel. 'I had just done a picture for Walter Wanger, RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11, in which I had great authority, did whatever I wanted to do. Now I was on a picture battling for every decision, working with people who were pretentious, talented but pretentious. They'd talk, talk, talk, but they wouldn't sit down and give me enough time. They wouldn't rehearse. Perhaps it was my fault. Cochran was a good actor, but not when he was loaded, and I had a hard time catching him even slightly sober. I was not able to communicate with these people and the picture showed it. Strangely enough, I personally liked both Ida Lupino and Young and still do, but not to work with."

Cinematographer Burnett Guffey had just won an Academy Award for FROM HERE TO ETERNITY and would do so again with BONNIE & CLYDE over a decade later. Don Seigel hired his friend Sam Peckinpah as "dialogue coach" and Howard & Ida's little girl had a bit part. The alcohol-fueled acting (enhanced by Leith Stevens' jazzy score) is fine all the way around with Steve, as usual, being the stand-out as he slowly reveals his character to be a self-assured sociopath under the badge.

Recommended -but not for the usual reasons.


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