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Joe 'Tom' Yateley is an ex-convict. Trying to leave his past behind, he decides to start working for the Hawlett Trucking company, which transports gravel. It's an aggressive company, where speed is everything. Doing too few runs in a day? You're out. Red is the most experienced trucker; he can do 18 runs in a day. Tom soon makes friends with Lucy, the secretary, and Gino, a driver. But the record of Red intrigues him and he wants to break it. Gino advises against it, but he helps Tom when he wants to go through with it. Soon trouble begins when Red and the other drivers form a united front against Tom. Just when Tom has enough and decides to pack his bags, Lucy tells him Gino had a terrible accident. She also tells about the corruption of Hawlett Trucking. Written by
Arnoud Tiele (email@example.com)
Brilliant, underrated piece of British 50s social realism
This underrated film, directed by Cy Endfield (Zulu) is a dour, realistic drama about an ex-con (Stanley Baker) who goes to work as a lorry driver for a crooked haulage company, only to discover that the ruthless boss and his foreman are cheating the drivers of huge amounts of money, and forcing them to work in dangerous conditions, resulting in the death of several drivers.
It benefits from a taut, BAFTA nominated screenplay by Endfield and John Kruse (better known as a documentary film maker), which pulls no punches in its realistic depiction of the genuinely life-threatening conditions that these lorry drivers had to endure.
Its chief asset, however, is the remarkably strong cast. Stanley Baker, as the ex-con determined to expose his corrupt bosses, brings a quiet strength and sincerity to his role as a basically decent guy who makes the wrong choices. It is interesting to compare Baker's performance here with his acclaimed portrayal of the ruthless, hardened gangster in Joseph Losey's 'The Criminal', made three years later.
Patrick McGoohan shines in an early role as the psychopathic lead driver, exuding genuine menace. And as for the priceless supporting cast: Herbert Lom, Sid James, Gordon Jackson, and Sean Connery in one of his earliest roles..need I say more. To sum up, Hell Drivers is a minor classic of post-war British cinema, and deserves more recognition than it has formerly feceived.
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