Up 870 this week

Hell Is a City (1960)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 404 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 20 critic

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. ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (novel)
0Check in

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 36 titles
created 13 Jul 2011
a list of 383 titles
created 04 Aug 2011
list image
a list of 23 titles
created 11 Nov 2011
a list of 1000 titles
created 04 Sep 2012
a list of 80 titles
created 11 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Hell Is a City" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Hell Is a City (1960)

Hell Is a City (1960) on IMDb 7.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Hell Is a City.
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Inspector Harry Martineau
John Crawford ...
Don Starling
Gus Hawkins
Chloe Hawkins
Joseph Tomelty ...
Furnisher Steele
George A. Cooper ...
Doug Savage
Geoffrey Frederick ...
Vanda Godsell ...
Lucky Lusk
Charles Houston ...
Clogger Roach
Joby Blanshard ...
Tawny Jakes
Charles Morgan ...
Laurie Lovett
Peter Madden ...
Bert Darwin
Dickie Owen ...
Lois Daine ...
Cecily Wainwright
Commercial Traveller


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


Her body was still warm... See more »


Crime | Thriller


See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 November 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hell Is a City  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Val Guest:  Customer at a table in the pub ordering a beer See more »


When Warren Mitchell discovers the dead girl on the moors, she blinks. 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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Why do we always try to be like America?
19 November 2001 | by (United Kingdom) – See 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.

11 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Where are the sequels simon-king376
Maxine Audley? spookyrat1
Discuss Hell Is a City (1960) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: