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Hell's Half Acre (1954)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Crime | 1 June 1954 (USA)
An American woman goes to Hawaii to search for her husband, MIA since the war, but he's a fugitive from the law and involved in a private feud against his former crime syndicate partners.


John H. Auer


Steve Fisher


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Cast overview:
Wendell Corey ... Chet Chester
Evelyn Keyes ... Donna Williams
Elsa Lanchester ... Lida O'Reilly
Marie Windsor ... Rose
Nancy Gates ... Sally Lee
Leonard Strong ... Ippy
Jesse White ... Tubby Otis
Philip Ahn ... Roger Kong
Robert Shield Robert Shield ... Frank
Clair Widenaar Clair Widenaar ... Jamison
Robert Costa Robert Costa ... 'Slim' Novak


A woman who believes her missing husband is in prison in Hawaii on a murder charge travels there to see if it actually is him. However, he escapes before she sees him, when he hears that his current girlfriend has been murdered. The wife searches the slum area of Honolulu known as Hell's Half Acre for him, he searches for his girlfriend's killer, and his gangland associates are looking for the two of them. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TOUGHEST SPOT IN THE PACIFIC! (original window card-all caps) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 June 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Les bas-fonds d'Hawaï See more »

Filming Locations:

Honolulu, O'ahu, Hawaii, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Republic Pictures (I) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Written by Jack Pitman (as Jack Pittman)
Sung by The Kaumakapili Choir
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User Reviews

What Tourist Brochures Don't Show
13 August 2015 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

As I recall this little slice of b&w exotica got quite a bit of buzz back then. No doubt, that was because of the naughty innuendo and unusual locale. 1954 was before Hawaii became a state or showed up on weekly TV, so the backgrounds and people were still foreign to American living rooms. Anyway, the plot's anything but tight, running two or three threads at the same time. There's no need to recap what others have already done in detail.

What carries the film are the Hawaiian 'mise-en-scene', colorful characters, and good acting. Honolulu's Half Acre amounts to a hellish maze of rickety stairs, balconies, and walkways, all used to good effect by director Auer. Couple that with a noir character like Chester (Corey), a bosomy slut like Rose (Windsor, of course), and a slimy yucko like Ippy (Strong), along with other shady types, and who cares about plot logic. As a result, the visuals and characters rivet even when the narrative doesn't. Still, what's with Tubby (White) who gets bloodlessly shot in the shoulder and seconds later pulls a Tarzan escape with perfect coordination. Even cowboy matinees are more realistic than that, and who knew matinees better than Republic. All in all, it looks like a feature length appeal was aimed at, including something of a 'name' cast and a spicy story. Still, I'd like to know how the results actually performed dollar-wise. Nonetheless, the movie's not without points of interest, along with an ending that is not predictable, plus a Hawaii that sure doesn't show up on tourist brochures.

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