Hell Below Zero (1954) Poster

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Incredible 50's whaling scenes
hallcp11 July 2007
This movie is better than the Maltin movie book rates it. Ladd does well with a poorly written role, Niall MacGinnis and Stanley Baker are fine too. The weak link is a plot that doesn't make sense and Joan Tetzel as a not very interesting love interest.

But a couple of other features push the movie up a notch. The beautiful color shots of whales being caught and slaughtered (in 1954! On a British ship!) are things you won't see elsewhere. I had no idea we were still killing whales on this scale at that time. Some scenes are right out of Moby Dick.

Another surprise is the role of a feisty whaling woman (played by Jill Bennett) captaining a whale catching vessel. You don't often see women in such action roles, even today.

And as others have noted, the mix of studio and arctic shots is pretty darn smooth. Much better than "Ice Station Zebra" for example. I was surprised and impressed.

So if you're an Alan Ladd fan, go ahead and catch this one. Or if you're curious about how they caught whales in the mid-twentieth century, this is better than any documentary.
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interesting view of 2 intend things whaling and south Africa
ib011f9545i28 June 2005
6 you say after reading all the other,very negative comments. Yes 6,I watched this this afternoon on UK channel 4,I watched it because I have never heard of it before and I like some of the work of the director Mark Robson. It is not an undiscovered classic but it was quite enjoyable and interesting for what it says about society at the time it was made. The film features some beautiful old aeroplanes,Constellations I think. There is a flight to South Africa,it looks beautiful,very rich.you don't see many black people in the background,the characters don't see to meet any Afrikaners,that is dutch speaking south Africans either. The scenes at the docks main feature British working class types. The action then moves to the whaling fleet,studio shots are mixed with film of real whaling operations. Few people in those days cared much about the whales and parts of the film are like a promo film for the whaling industry. Everybody looks macho except the women who just look nice,Jill Bennett plays a cute little Norwegian whaling skipper and everybody has a great time killing whales. I like Alan Ladd in this film,I like Alan Ladd in every film,he plays more or less the same part in each film,ordinary guy pushed into extraordinary situations. I won't give away the plot but the film looks great,I know that the look of the film looks tacky now but I like the bright colours and the fight scenes,its Tuesday afternoon and I am waiting for the gas man,I do not expect too much. Slagging off this film with 2005 eyes is stupid,it is just a piece of fun,sit back and marvel at the radios the size of fridges and the whaling ships which no longer exist. I am from Edinburgh Scotland and we used to send whalers to that part of the world,hope some of the old fellows who used to go south were watching this and recognised the old boats. How many films did Alan Ladd make where he was an ex soldier/sailor/airman down on his luck?
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Whaling archive
ed-38721 April 2004
In the 21st century, this film is remarkable and valuable for one thing- as an archive of mid 20th century whaling, when the industrial killing was at its height. You will never again see so many blue whales together at one time. Pity they're all dead, next to the factory ship ready for processing. The whaling fleet was British (yes, we did that!). As a marine biologist I had seen many scenes of harpooning, but I had never seen the scenes of flensing and the industrial moving of such huge objects. I have never had a better illustration of the mass of a blue whale than when I saw it turned on the deck of the factory ship. Also, the blackboard chalking up what were presumably genuine daily scores for each whaleship was amazing. The attitudes of the leading characters at the successful capture of a blue whale were also stunning to see. If you have an interest in the whaling debate, see this film. I doubt there is a better film record of industrial whaling anywhere.
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What A Flip Of The Coin Will Get You
bkoganbing10 July 2007
Hell Below Zero finds Alan Ladd as an American flying to Capetown to see about some mining investments. He meets Joan Tetzel on the plane and is intrigued by her. She's going there to investigate her father's death for herself, she doesn't like the initial verdict of suicide.

Ladd's investment has gone up in smoke and after he metes out a justified beat down to Peter Dyneley. He looks up Joan Tetzel at the Capetown equivalent of the Merchant Seaman's Hall. She's now half owner of a whaling vessel with Basil Sydney and his son, Stanley Baker and she's not happy with their explanation of things. On a flip of a coin since apparently Ladd has nothing else to do, he signs on their vessel as the first mate.

Though the personal story takes a melodramatic turn, I have got to hand it to the folks at Shepperton Studios. Other than using some establishing color cinematography to depict Capetown, the Ocean, the whaling, and the Antarctic, the film was shot in the United Kingdom. But you would never realize it, that's how good the sets are. There is a film Bear Island with Richard Widmark and Donald Sutherland that is also a polar location and that was done in North Labrador to simulate the Arctic. You can't tell the two apart, viewed side by side during the Antarctic sequences.

Best performance in the film however is Jill Esmond as a female Norwegian whaling ship captain, a part that is obviously a lesbian. Filmed today Jill's character would be quite open about her sexual orientation.

This is one of three British made films that Alan Ladd did for Columbia release in the USA during the Fifties. Hell Below Zero is easily the best of the three because of its production values. Very similar to the studio recreation of the Himalayas in Black Narcissus.
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A very strange Alan Ladd flick
MartinHafer11 July 2007
This is an odd Alan Ladd film from his years appearing in a few British productions. Most of these British films are pretty dull (such as THE BLACK KNIGHT and THE RED BERET), though this one is just a little bit better--but not so much that you should rush out to find a copy. In some ways it's very much like most of his films, as the pugnacious near-midget acts tough and beats up all his diminutive enemies (as Hollywood had a habit of co-starring him with other short actors). However, it is a bit different due to the locale of the film and the oddness of the plot.

Ladd is on his way to South Africa just to beat someone up. Sure, the guy deserves it but to travel 7,764 miles (more or less) just to do it seemed odd, as he COULD have paid some locals to do it instead (and for a lot less money)! On the way to clobber this crook, Ladd sits next to a lady on the plane and is instantly smitten with her. Later, after applying this butt-kicking, he meets up with her again and finds out that she's on her way towards Antarctica to discover how and why her father (a ship's captain) was killed. The official story is that he either killed himself or it was an accident but she doggedly is determined to find the real cause. Considering that Ladd is not doing anything (i.e., there is no one in the country he needs to beat up), he signs aboard as a first-mate and goes with her.

The rest of the film is set either at sea or on the ice--a definite change of pace for Ladd. But the biggest change is just how odd the plot becomes and all the bizarre and rather difficult to anticipate action. It's not really bad, but it's so weird and difficult to believe that it's not all that good either. Still, for fans of Ladd, it's worth seeing and others might see it as just another time-passer.

By the way, those who are members of PETA and soft-hearted souls should NOT watch the film as there is a lot of whale killing in the film and it's pretty graphic. Seeing it, it shows just how much sensibilities have changed in the last half century.
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Enjoyable seas adventure
chris_gaskin12328 June 2005
Hell Below Zero is one of three British movies Alan Ladd (Shane) appeared in. The Black Night was one of the others. I enjoyed this.

A man signs on a whaling ship and one of the reasons for this is to help a woman find her Dad's killer. The expedition takes them to the frozen wastes of the Antarctic, where they track the killer down on a rival whaling ship. Not surprisingly, Ladd also falls in love with the woman.

There is some good photography in this movie, which is shot well in colour. I first thought is was black and white when I purchased it.

The rest of the cast includes Joan Tetzel as the love interest, Stanley Baker (Zulu) as the murderer and Basil Sydney.

Hell Below Zero is a good way to spend 90 minutes one afternoon or evening. Very good.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
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Whaling stories
dbdumonteil10 May 2012
Mark Robson must have remembered he directed in 1943 the absolutely remarkable "ghost ship " ,one of his VaL Lewton productions,all of which worth seeking out.

that's why the second third is arguably the best : a delightful villain (Stanley Baker,who else?),a mystery , a disturbing atmosphere in the depths of the ship;Robson can make the best of the hold and of the engine room.

More than the bland heroine ,Gerda is for the time a very modern character that should have been more developed ;it's her that should have accompanied Ladd in the final chase,not the frail clueless girl.

The last third seems a bit botched anyway ,but it's an entertaining adventures movie.
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Pretty good Adventure Film
gordonl5619 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers

Alan Ladd headlines this crime-adventure film set on the Antarctic whaling fleet. Ladd is in South Africa seeing about a mine he had invested in. It seems he was taken for a bundle by his partner in the enterprise. He meets a woman, Joan Tetzel, who is in from the UK to see about the death of her father. The man, a ship Captain, had gone overboard from a whaler in the Antarctic.

Ladd, who just happened to serve in the Navy during the war signs on as first mate on the ship taking Tetzel to the whaling fleet. Also going along is the owner of the fleet, Basil Sydney and Niall MacGinnis, the fleet doctor with an over fondness for the bottle.

Ladd and Tetzel are both attracted to each other and sparks soon fly. That is till Ladd hears that Tetzel in the fiancé of Stanley Baker, the son of Basil Sydney. Ladd cools the relationship which annoys Tetzel. Things heat up again when Ladd discovers that Baker is no longer in the picture.

The ship reaches the whalers and Ladd is assigned to look into the death of Tetzel's father. Soon at the top of the suspect list is Tetzel's old beau, Baker. There is of course no actual proof since the only witness somehow manages to get himself killed.

To cut to the quick, Baker decides to do in Ladd, Tetzel and anyone else you might cause him any bother. While all this is going on, there is plenty of action involving the whalers etc. A couple of good knockdown fist fights are thrown in to keep the pace going.

The whole thing ends with a chase across the ice with the dastardly Baker getting his well deserved comeuppance.

This movie is better than I am making it sound. There is plenty of action, and lots of interesting, shot on location footage of the whalers in action. This is blended very well into the made in studio footage. All in all, this is a good way to use up 90 minutes on a rainy day.

Also in the cast is Jill Bennett as a Captain on one of the whale catchers. The director, Mark Robson, is best known for directing, THE PRIZE, THE HARDER THEY FALL, LOST COMMAND, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and VON RYAN'S EXPRESS.
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Action on frigid seas.
michaelRokeefe13 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Often over-looked Alan Ladd vehicle made in Great Britian, HELL BELOW ZERO is a good sea drama with its share of action. Mark Robson directs Ladd as Duncan Craig, who is seeking answers on what happened to an investment gone bad. He meets a woman, Judie(Joan Tetzel),who is on a search of her own. Duncan signs onto a whaling ship in order to get information on her father's death. While on the whaling expedition, the two suspect the ship's skipper Erik Bland(Stanley Baker)is a murderer; especially when they get the idea he is planning their own "accidental" disappearance in the frigid waters of the Antartic. Mystery, adventure and good scenery. Also in the cast: Basil Sydney, Jill Bennett, Joseph Tomelty and Paddy Ryan.
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Fighting the cold
heedarmy27 April 2004
This British-made adventure represents an early teaming for two of the men who helped create the James Bond series, producer Albert Broccoli and writer Richard Maibaum. Apart from character names and the Arctic setting, the story doesn't really have much to do with the Hammond Innes novel on which it is (allegedly) based; the film actually ends more or less where the novel begins.

Nevertheless, this is gutsy, vital stuff with some vigorous action scenes and excellent location work. A young Stanley Baker makes a smooth, dangerous villain and the always-excellent Niall MacGinnis is on hand as a drunken doctor who comes to the aid of Alan Ladd's stoical, if slightly dull, hero.
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Fairly average adventure with not a great deal to offer
bob the moo16 July 2005
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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Fun adventure yarn
drystyx16 April 2012
Ladd plays one of the role model characters for Han Solo, as an adventurer who'll do anything to pick up a chick.

Except he's sort of a cross between Skwalker and Solo, thus making him more three dimensional than the character torn asunder into two characters.

Here, he goes into the South Seas near Antarctica, in a grand story of whaling. There is intrigue, as a woman believes her father, a whaling captain, was murdered by her fiancé.

The fiancé is evil incarnate, and it's very obvious early. Which make the scene where Ladd and MacGinnis ask him to save them, very ludicrous. It makes their characters look very stupid. Knowing they are witnesses against him in a murder, they divulge to the evil fiancé, Stanley Baker, that their ship is stuck in ice, and only Baker's icebreaker ship can free them. Knowing this, one would think that Ladd would be smart enough to tell the radio operator to send a message that Ladd and MacGinnis fell overboard, probably with some others, and are not among the survivors, in which case they would be rescued. However, they stupidly set themselves up, as well as the others, for a ramming job.

Along the way, revelations come a few at a time. And it woks well here.

What works even better is the use of the minor characters. MacGinnis and Bennett lead the way as some very interesting characters. Perhaps the least interesting are the "lackeys" who are willing to help Baker commit murder, knowing they are expendable witnesses. More and more revelations about Baker's evil persona come as the plot unfolds. He truly is evil incarnate.

The whaling scenes, and the scenes with the crews, along with the afore mentioned supporting characters, are what make this a top movie, as is usually what makes a top movie.

The action scenes are a bit of a cross between the old style realism of stumbling and shoving, and the modern ignorant comical choreography that probably works well in a Japanese kung fu movie, because the Japanese kung fu movie is based on personification, but looks stupid when dealing with dramatic characters in an action adventure. We see more "cause and effect" than the actual fighting, which really looks the best in adventure films, because it involves no "staged" look. The chips fall where they fall. In fact, at the end, when they are in the bitter cold, the two main characters probably shoot their guns "too well" for characters whose fingers are probably frozen, and whose guns have frozen mechanisms. It would be amazing if they did hit anything.

I have some nit picks with the movie. I'd like to have seen some of the characters survive, ones we know will die with pathos, but their deaths are not contrived. They are in one of the most dangerous occupations in one of the most dangerous areas of the world, even today.

This is a good film We care about the characters, and the adventure is great. If you don't enjoy this, then then there's no way you could enjoy 99% of the movies made since 1970, with characters we could care nothing about, and with dull, stupidly staged action sequences. This is a real film.
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Historical view of whaling
raygirvan1 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As others have said, with its nonchalant acceptance (and even promotion) of the normality and worth of whaling - the main characters cheering at every one harpooned - this film is jaw-droppingly rooted in its era. And yet it is very watchable, for the remarkable authenticity of setting (this is an industry that should be remembered, the better to inform opinion of why consensus is now against it) and some good characters (Jill Bennett's female whaling captain is wonderful, far more interesting than the wooden heroine). The plot, unfortunately, is formulaic, with "plot coupons" abounding. We're told that a harpoon gun a) has an explosive warhead; b) has a dangerous recoil; c) has a coiled cable that might catch your foot if you're not careful. And, darn me, various characters fall foul of all three.
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Not for whale lovers
derekparry5 December 2002
The story of a whale factory captain who has allegedly committed suicide but to the disbelief of his daughter who is going to travel to the Antartic to prove otherwise. Not a bad start but then Alan Ladd enters and it goes downhill from there.

It's not all bad. Stanley Baker plays the bad guy well and the climax is worth waiting for...just. On the way you will endure some graphic scenes of a whaling operation in action. This was probably far more palatable in 1953 than it is now. Also there is a fight scene that really reminded me of the 60's Batman TV series - but perhaps naffer.

Approach with caution.....and not at all if you like whales.
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Chilly adventure with Alan Ladd
Leofwine_draca7 June 2016
HELL BELOW ZERO is a tough adventure starring Alan Ladd, although the real star of the show are the icy Antarctic locations. It's something of a murder mystery in which Ladd becomes involved with a woman who believes her father, the captain of a whaling ship, was murdered by a rival. The two end up travelling to the Antarctic themselves in order to solve the mystery.

This is a pretty well paced little film with some exemplary fight scenes to enjoy; that early bust-up in the hotel room is a fitting introduction to Ladd's character and great fun. The stuff that takes place on the whaling ship is also highly suspenseful, benefiting from two solid performances: a young Stanley Baker as Ladd's rival, and the excellent Niall MacGinnis as the drunken ship's doctor.

What follows is a solid adaptation of the novel by Hammond Innes, featuring men fighting both the inhospitable locations and traitorous murderers. Ladd is a serviceable rather than remarkable lead, but the quality supporting cast make up for him. The one thing that blighted HELL BELOW ZERO, for me, was the whaling sequence featuring real-life footage of whales being harpooned over and over again while characters celebrate the massacre. It's pretty sickening stuff, although thankfully it only occurs in a single part of the movie.
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Hell Alan Is Above All This!
t.mcparland-223 December 2000
In all Alan Ladd films when Alan stood up everyone else immediately sat down. Why? Well, my son, he was more of a laddie in stature than even a lad. In those days there were Rules. If, heaven forbid, a leading man hadn't a hairy chest or was vertically challenged, the other male cast members were depilated [Clark Gable MOGAMBO] or either sat, or stood in holes [male & female in all Alan's pictures].

The Rules also stipulated that however macho [Rock Hudson], or articulate [James Dean] a leading man might appear, audiences regarded diminution as effeminate; this nancy distinction Hollywood felt firstly financially and secondly morally bound to cinematically correct. Regardless of history [Napoleon, Churchill] Hollywood knew best: A short man was short of something. At 5'6,' 'Tiny' Ladd seemed too short for a screen career.

A pot boiler like HELL BELOW ZERO is the best measure of an actor- where, as here, the producer was a crook [Cubby Broccoli, later owing Sean Connery a packet- one small talent robbing another], the name support non-existent, and the star makes or breaks. Ladd, a former radio actor, with screen presence and persona to die for, makes in this execrable Hammond Innes drivel.

Made in Britain [favourable currency exchange rates] ostensibly about whaling, it mutates to a British drawing room murder mystery with incomparable Britlish drabness- characters saying 'ken't' for 'can't' etc.

Promoted to skipper of a whaling hell-hole where every crewman is putatively vital, [Joseph Tomelty, ham and equally atrocious playwright, having been thankfully concussed], Ladd has time to go 'investigating,' predictably ending up on the only South Atlantic, Lillian Gish ice floe where breath is not emitted as steam.

But Ladd, on the inevitable downward spiral from SHANE, manages a coolness this refrigerated British turkey doesn't, and elucidates by example among Old Country antecedents that there is another way. One of the few great movie stars in the Hollywood firmament, no one noticed he was small at the time. Because, -Wallbridge - his middle name suggests and his talent confirms, he was a giant in 1950's Lilliput.
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Save the Wails!
wes-connors12 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is no whale of a film. I'll accept, for the moment, "Hell Below Zero" is a reflection of the times and pass on commenting about the whaling industry. The movie is just too, too dull. The silent "Down to the Sea in Ships" had a easier-to-get-involved-in storyline… I guess I just couldn't drum up the needed sympathy for the characters Mr. Ladd and Ms. Tetzel portray. I was rooting for Stanley Baker at the end. He was better than the leads. The snowy ending is a pick-up in excitement, and nicely photographed; but, Mr. Baker, sadly, loses in his effort to end the dullness.

*** Hell Below Zero (1954) Mark Robson ~ Alan Ladd, Joan Tetzel, Stanley Baker
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Alan Ladd and Alec Coppel
Single-Black-Male20 April 2004
Although the quality of Alan Ladd's films went down after 'Shane', I watched this simply because it was written by Alec Coppel. He wrote this in the same year that he wrote another Alan Ladd film, 'The Black Knight', and then went on four years later to co-write 'Vertigo'. Three years prior to 'Hell Below Zero', Coppel wrote 'No Highway in the Sky' starring James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. This is a throwaway brain kind of film. When you watch it, you realise that the major studios were just padding out Ladd's career with projects like this so that he could pay his bills, fill out his c.v. and stay in the limelight. Apart from that, there is no substance to the film whatsoever.
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sick junk
climbingtiger95717 October 2017
started out enjoying this film,plenty of fights decent cast ,then for me it turns to the usual shock tactics of vintage whale slaughtering .films like this have no "this may contain upsetting scenes "why ???,believe me I'm no lightweight but stuff like this UN-nerves me ,and yep i know if you don't like it turn it off ,SO I DID !!reading reviews on this ,people saying it was an interesting view of foregone whale hunting ,well who want's to see that!!.they are beautiful creatures with very much the same traits as humans ,there are times when they are aggressive when they have been harpooned by some idiot as they are trying to protect there young with a harpoon in them ,anyway that's my rant i wanted to write this because people may not know what this film is about before they watch it ,being called "hell below zero"not "slaughtering of the whales" and if you find this interesting i recommend you pop up the slaughterhouse for an afternoon,that should make your'e day. freaks.
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An Antarctic adventure featuring Alan Ladd, murder at sea, icy storms and a lot of whales. It's not bad
Terrell-431 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
If you want to learn how to skin a whale, and if you like Alan Ladd, Hell Below Zero is what you've been looking for. It's the story of Duncan Craig (Ladd) who winds up in South Africa to straighten out his partner in a would-be gold mine. Craig has lost a bundle, there is no gold mine, and he straightens out his partner, now former partner, with his fists. On the flight down from London he met Judy Nordhal (Joan Tetzel), a young woman whose father, a partner in a big whaling operation and skipper of a mother ship, has been reported missing overboard during a storm in the Antarctic seas. She has been accompanied by John Bland (Basil Sydney), the very British co-partner, whose son, Erik Bland (Stanley Baker), was second in command when Judy's father went missing. At one time Judy and Erik had been engaged, but that is now over. Judy and John Bland plan to go to the mother ship and hold an inquiry. Duncan, in order to be with Judy, has managed to become second in command on the ship taking them to the mother ship. They can smell the mother ship before they see her. "That's the smell of money," John Bland points out to Duncan. Soon we're on the mother ship, the big whale processing plant which picks up and cuts apart the whales the smaller catcher ships harpoon. The flotilla also includes an ice-breaker. Up to now we've had the time to settle in with Alan Ladd into one of his competent adventure movies. We've gotten to know the main characters, except for Erik. We've seen for ourselves how cold and stormy are the Antarctic waters. We've been given a short and visual course on the importance of whaling and on how whales are caught and turned into oil and dog food.

Now, however, with all on board the mother ship, we learn that it was highly unlikely Judy's father just lost his footing during a gale. We discover that a seaman is being held for no apparent cause in the brig, deep in the shadowy bowels of the ship. We see the true nature of Eric Bland. We take part in an exhilarating chase on a catcher ship after whales and the harpooning of several of them, using a gun that blasts out harpoons which carry explosive charges. (Remember this; one of these big harpoons comes in handy later.) We find ourselves in fist fights (Ladd usually wins); there's a brutal murder; and then we're stuck on a freezing Antarctic ice shelf, our catcher ship carrying Craig and Judy rammed by the ice breaker captained by Erik. It all comes down to a vicious fight on the snow between Duncan Craig and Erik Bland, with both using heavy, sharp pick axes.

The movie's not bad, at least if you close your eyes during the whale murdering...I mean, whaling scenes. The movie is a solid Alan Ladd adventure, made at a time when the whale population was on no one's radar except whaling ships. Take the movie as something of its time and don't judge it entirely by today's sensitivities.

Hell Below Zero was based on the adventure novel The White South by Hammond Innes (real name: Ralph Hammond-Innes). He was a successful writer of adventure novels that combined detailed descriptions of interesting places with solid story lines. They feature decent, honorable heros who turn out to be more resourceful than we might expect. Hammond- Innes and his wife would typically go journeying for six months, then he'd write a novel featuring the place they'd been to. He was a first-class travel writer and a superior adventure writer. He had a long career but probably is largely forgotten now. In my opinion, he still is readable. Over the years I've gone through most of his books at least twice. If you're interested in sampling his work, try Air Bridge, The Wreck of the Mary Deare, Campbell's Kingdom, The Land God Gave to Cain or The Doomed Oasis. Summer reading, perhaps, but good summer reading.
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