Hell Drivers (1957) Poster

(1957)

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10/10
star studded and eminently watchable
herbertanchovy20 November 2004
Although the film belongs to Baker and mcgoohan there are plenty of other famous faces to spot. yes, sid james only ever played one character in all his films- that of sid james- but its an interesting romp nonetheless. I have it on good authority it was filmed around Stanwell moor, west London, and the trucks are "kew" dodges. something no-one has picked up on is that the sequences showing the trucks traveling at speed are obviously speeded up, these old motors were incapable of exceeding 45 mph, even more so carrying 10 tons o gravel (they were only 7 ton design weight) The plot is believable though, the practice of paying drivers "per trip" was and still is a common practice, especially in the tipper sector (obviously to encourage more runs) I know, I worked for a firm remarkably similar to Hawletts. someone has commented on the "coincidence" that all the drivers sleep at the same lodgings- this too was common in the 50's, before the advent of sleeper cabs, drivers would simply find "digs" for the night. also fewer people had their own car in those days, so wouldn't it make sense to sleep close to the job? Made on a small budget in an era where you would need to watch your Ps and Qs and also tone down any scenes of violence, its a classic in my opinion. In those days you'd actually probably be very grateful to be behind one of these wagons, the speed limit for trucks was only 20mph back then!
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10/10
Trucking Hell
loza-124 May 2005
The trucking crew reads like a who's who of male British-based acting talent. Baker, Connery, Sid James (who was a superb straight actor), Lom, Gordon Jackson, etc, under the foremanship of Patrick McGoohan. Back home minding the shop we have David McCallum and in the office, ripping them all off is William Hartnell.

I love the road scenes be they shot at normal speed or otherwise. The language had to be toned down for censorship reasons, otherwise you would find McGoohan calling Baker something a little stronger than yellow belly.

With a cast like that you would expect to see some great performances; and you do. But since Patrick McGoohan has the best role, he stands head and shoulders above the rest as the mad Irishman who swigs Guiness at the wheel, and who can lose a fight and still have his cigarette sticking out of his mouth.

I love this film.
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Brilliant, underrated piece of British 50s social realism
sayesele20 July 2003
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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"Don't you characters ever say Please..?"
mikec3200122 January 2003
An oddball movie, a hybrid of (would be) Hollywood tough-guy melodrama and UK kitchen sink sensibility. And yes, starring Dr Who, The Prisoner, 007, Man from UNCLE and many more. Certainly the greatest cast of cult actors ever to appear together, well, ever. This movie is terrible and magnificent in equal measure. To me it is staggeringly watchable. The premise is seriously skewered yet endearing all the same: 1950s English truckdrivers behaving like 1850s American outlaws in a Never Never Land where trucks are allowed to habitually run at 80mph down country lanes without so much a peep from the plod.

McGoohan is a star turn here and Peggy Cummins makes for a surprisingly un-frigid lead (look, the UK film industry in the 1950s didn't do sexy -what do you mean Diana Dors? - proves my point!!). But the film belongs to Baker - brooding, smouldering, moral, vengeful, utterly magnificent. We don't make them like him, or like this any more.
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Truck drivers spit gravel
pullgees16 August 2004
A tautly directed and tight lipped B movie done in American 50's crime genre style. This was one British film that had actors playing tough guys properly instead of the usual feeble and artificial methods of acting tough that let down scores of British films of that time. In particular the fist fight scene looked convincing and dramatic for a change. All this was very refreshing for its time. A very watchable Patrick Mcgoohan excelled in the role as the main antagonist playing a believable hard b'stard. I wish he had done subsequent roles as a leading heavy he would have been good at that. A strong cast all round. The dour realism of working class England was captured well. The crazy driving was not too far from the truth either. During the Fifties there was a massive rebuilding programme going on following the war and the blitz and you would see these ballast lorries scurrying around everywhere breaking speed limits where they could. Many looked in a bad state of maintenance. For truck geeks they were Dodge Semi Forwards with mostly Perkins diesel engines.
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A working class hero is Stanley B.
mgmax24 October 2002
The spirit of 30s Warner Brothers movies lives in this tough, intense thriller about men doing an impossible job-- driving gravel trucks at breakneck speed. (Like the mail service in Only Angels Have Wings, this company loses way too

many men and trucks to make economic sense, but it's great as a movie

pressure cooker for character.) Baker, a largely forgotten star who was the first real working class hero in British films and the precursor to Michael Caine et al. (which, to extend the Warner Bros. analogy, sort of makes him to British cinema what John Garfield was as the first real ethnic American star), is brooding and Eastwood-silent as a new trucker with a past, while a highly interesting cast of character actors includes not only three future movie/TV spy stars, as other

reviewers have noted, but a bunch of ace Carry On-type comedians (Sid James,

Wilfred Lawson, and Alfie Bass), Gun Crazy star Peggy Cummins, the future

Mrs. Charles Bronson (Jill Ireland) and even a Dr. Who (William Hartnell).

Writer-director Endfield, an American blacklistee whose most famous film (and Baker's) would be Zulu ten years later, clearly drew some inspiration from the international art house hit The Wages of Fear, but this movie wisely doesn't seek existential meanings and keeps its B movie soul pure-- and hardboiled.
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7/10
Terrific Young Cast In Solid Fifties British Crime Thriller
ShootingShark12 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Tom, an ex-con, takes a job with a corrupt haulage firm driving ballast along treacherous country roads. The drivers, led by the crooked foreman Red, are given cash incentives to deliver more loads by driving dangerously. Tom aims to beat Red's times on the road, but hasn't reckoned on the lengths Red will go to to protect his lucrative setup.

This is a rare treat - a solid British action drama made in the fifties; exciting, tensely scripted and directed, and extremely well acted. It's a British equivalent of the numerous and enjoyable American drive-in movies of the fifties, with a rock-and-roll sensibility and a fine young cast. And what a cast - Baker is solid in the lead, Cummins makes a great sweater-girl, and Lom, the wonderfully nasty Hartnell, Ireland (who was only twenty-one) and McCallum are all terrific. McGoohan, as the thoroughly loathsome and twisted Red, is electrifying - his whole body seems stretched too tight and he spits out his dialogue like bile. This is one of the best villains in all British cinema and an absolute must-see performance. The other stars of the movie are the horrible ten-ton tipper trucks, roaring along the muddy roads in packs like angry supercharged elephants. Geoffrey Unsworth's Vistavision camera-work is sensational and I particularly love the way he uses so many rear shots, following actors into spaces and creating great depth to the photography. Well-scripted by John Krause and the talented Endfield - a South African who worked in Hollywood but got blacklisted and moved to the UK, and is billed here as C. Raker Endfield - this movie entertains from start to finish. And what other film has a supporting cast featuring Chief Inspector Dreyfus, The Prisoner, a Dr Who, a Man From Uncle and a James Bond !!
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8/10
Hell Bent
howdymax3 December 2002
This movie shows us a side of the English that most Americans are unfamiliar with. Down, dirty, gritty, and nasty. We see these traits more in ourselves than in our friends across the pond.

As an old trucker, I was practically hypnotized by this movie. If I were still driving it would give me nightmares. A trucking crew, at odds with themselves as well as the owner, practically cut each others throats to become top driver. It is a daily grind consisting of hauling loads of gravel back and forth from a gravel pit to a construction site, rolling over each other as well as everyone else on the road in the process.

It isn't the story that makes this film - it's the cast, action, and direction - in any order you like. Stanley Baker plays the new guy. An ex-con trying to make a new start. Patrick McGoohan plays his antagonist in a truly evil fashion. I thought back and cannot remember seeing Patrick McGoohan in any standout role other than a Columbo re-run. But he really hit the mark here. Probably before he became convinced he was the world's greatest actor. The rest would fill out the Rank Organisation's register. Gordon Jackson (from The Great Escape), Herbert Lom (from the Pink Panther series) as an Italian!, and Sean Connery (pre James Bond) with real hair!

I found myself watching this movie with my mouth open and wondering WHERE WERE THE COPS!
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9/10
Fast paced, hard edged working-class thriller
Slime-33 June 2002
Stanley Baker heads a remarkable cast of high quality British based actors in a rattleing good yarn of corruption and grim macho rivalry. The towering Welsh actor looks and acts every inch the quiet spoken smouldering tough guy character(Tom Yately),a role that he was seemingly born to play, a combination of working class hard-man, reluctant/accidental criminal and passionate lover. A role too that he played in slightly differing forms in several other classic British crime flicks of the 1950's such as ONLY THE GOD DIE YOUNG but in HELL DRIVERS he has distilled the persona to perfection. Tom Yately an itinerant ex con, taking the only job he can find with his dubious background. This leads him to a trucking firm who deliver ballast (gravel/stone)and insist on their drivers (all apparently similar, down at heel ex cons and drifters) running insane risks at illegal speeds in order to earn enough bonus pay to survive and with the promise that if any of them can deliver more loads in a day than the obnoxious foreman, Red, the prize is a solid silver cigarette case worth a small fortune. Tom lands a room in a rough boarding house where most of his workmates also live and so work and it's pressures and rivalries are with him constantly.The landlady is a tough old bird and well capable of dishing out whatever is required to keep order.And she needs to! The other drivers are prone to constant fighting and low-brow practical jokes, one of which lands Tom in a classic confrontation with Red (played by Patrick "The Prisoner" McGoohan)which gives the film one of it's truly great moments of cinematic fury. As the story developes Tom ducks out of a dance hall brawl rather than risk his parole and becomes ostracized by the other drivers who have all been involved and who resent him for his apparent cowardice. Only his the rather more reasonable Italian ex POW, Gino (Herbert"Pink Panther" Lom) remains loyal. There is however the complication of Gino's "girl" (Peggy Cummings)who works at the truck yard. Unlike Gino,she sees herself as a free agent and makes a pitch for Baker.I won't spoil the plot which does have some good twists and turns but I will say that it all ends in rather dramatic, satisfying, if not unexpected violence. McGoohan, as Red, gives a superb performances , one of psychotic, cigar chewing , glowering animal menace. He makes Red the kind of foreman from hell that No-one would argue with. His acid-spitting delivery of lines, boxer-like stance and unkempt appearance simply ooze evil. Its a raw edged version of the rather more sophisticated "No.6" he later made famous in "The Prisoner" . Red could easily be "No.6"s mentally unstable cousin!

Gino is played with warmth and sensitivity by Lom, who's truly a class act, so much more so than his most famous Role of Inspector Dreyfuss in the PINK PANTHER films would have us believe. Peggy Cummings as Lucy, his girlfriend, is also superb; bright, quick, sassy and very attractive. Something of a teaser and everything of a femme fatale full of barely suppressed passion. Her love scenes with Tom are unusually sparky for a 50's British film.

Of the others, where do you start? Sean Connery is there in his pre-007 days. He's good but not yet great, but he looks the part, as in fact do every one of the cast, who were all chosen with great success. Carry-On star Sid James clowns about in some scenes but has a raw edge that reminds us what a damn good straight actor he could be when given the role while Gordon Jackson puts in a similarly gritty performance long before his lasting TV fame of THE PROFESSIONALS. The yard boss, played by the original DR WHO, William Hartnell is another fine piece of casting in what must rank as one of the best British films of the 50's. The story is unusual, a change from the whodunnit's, kitchen sink dramas and Ealing Comedies that were standard fare at the time. The script isn't too peppered with cliches and fairly crackles with tension at times. The action scenes both with the actors and with the trucks are sharply directed (aside from the old trick of speeding up the film at times which was common pactice untill quite recently and always, always looks false!)and every scene is well photographed to portray a grim, earthy working-class world. The characters are real and the performances are superb. It's a fine ensemble piece with a strong but not overpowering star role. Baker is in command but the others do not wither in his shadow and it can't have been by accident that the same star and director later worked together with major international success on ZULU.
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9/10
Unless I'm pushed that is.
Spikeopath9 July 2010
Ex-convict Tom Yately snags himself a job driving for haulage company Hawletts. The drivers are paid per trip, something that spurs the men on to drive faster and be more reckless than your average employee. Making few friends at Hawletts, Tom uncovers shifty dealings between brutal foreman, Red, and Hawletts manager, Cartley. Something that ups the stakes considerably more as Tom and Red clash on and off the road.

A true British hard boiler is Hell Drivers that is chocked full of machismo. Who would have thought that a film about lorry drivers transporting gravel could be so exciting? Directed by Cy Endfield {Zulu}, Hell Drivers has something of the quintessential working class about it, which is good to see and is no bad thing at all. Gritty in texture, the film, although a crime film in essence, has good character substance. Tom, played by the criminally undervalued Stanley Baker, is a guy trying to move on with his life, his past misdemeanours hang heavy with him, courtesy of a nice family thread that exists within the picture. But here he is trying to earn a hard days pay, only to find that crime, thru no fault of his own, wont leave him be. There's also a crucial thread of bullying, essayed by the hulking and fabulous Patrick McGoohan. And of course there's the women caught up in this macho world, observers to daily recklessness, coming to terms with affairs of the heart as much as the daily grind.

Set to a back drop of cafés, boarding houses, village dances, disused quarries and tight winding roads, Endfield and his crew have the working class atmosphere spot on. For sure it's the roaring trucks that bring the excitement, but it's the working class everyman (and woman) heart that drives Hell Drivers along. But be that as it may, it's the trucks, and the men behind the wheels, that the film is most remembered for. Endfield shooting the road beasts front and rear, really puts us out on the road with them. That we are involved with the characters and their surroundings, for better or worse, really aids the experience, such is the authentic feel that Endfield has crafted.

A roll call of Great British talent lines up alongside McGoohan, who may have been born in America, but was an honorary Brit due to his work on TV show The Prisoner. Into the Baker led beef stew comes Sean Connery, Sid James, William Hartnel, Alfie Bass, Wilfrid Lawson, David McCallum and Gordon Jackson. With Herbert Lom adding a continental aspect as the crucial, and emotionally driven Gino Rossi. The girls are played by Peggy Cummins, Jill Ireland and Marjorie Rhodes, with Cummins particularly standing out in amongst this hairy knuckled world.

On release the film garnered mixed reviews, but with each passing decade Hell Drivers has broken free of its cult only status. To which it now stands tall as a true British classic, that thankfully got a DVD treatment in 2007 to finally do it justice. 9/10
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10/10
What do you want to know? I was there!!
Keith G5 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
When this film was made I was 10 years old and my father was a truck driver in a small (by today's standards) Bedford truck almost identical to the Dodge trucks used in the film and was operating in the very area the film was made. He and his colleagues witnessed much of the film making and apparently had quite a laugh at some of the antics of the actors trying to move the trucks about! (If they had realised what the actors' pay was in relation to their own and what the future held for the likes of Sean Connery and Patrick McGoohan perhaps they would have laughed a little less!!)

As a lad my greatest delight was to accompany my father for the day and on odd occasions I got to drive the truck about in pits and quarries just like in the film and we would occasionally stop off in one of the numerous transport 'caffs' that existed in those days - with biscuits in glass jars, menus written in chalk, Coca Cola and jukeboxes in every one!! What I can tell you is that, disregarding the 'storyline' with its necessarily exaggerated drama and the near-psychotic behaviour of some of the characters, the atmosphere, scenery and setting of the story is spot on.

The film picks up nicely on the period that I witnessed myself at the time in the UK, when the bleak, post-war drabness was gradually being turned round by hard work and long hours put in by just the sort of drifting, diverse workforce (including ex-POWs) that was portrayed with some pretty fine character studies. The grittiness of their existence and the way they coped with the pressures of the day was depicted very well - pubs sold a lot more ale and a lot less 'chicken in the basket' in those days! It was a time when 'black & white' Britain was becoming 'Technicolour' and little black cars (like the Austin 7 in the film that keeps popping all over the place) were slowly being eased out by the arrival of smart new models which could even be had in *different colours*!! (Ten years from the time this film was made colour was everywhere and Britain had become 'psychedelic'!!)

Obviously the events depicted in the film would not have been allowed to go on long before they attracted the attention of the police but it may interest you to know that, for a brief while, some of the ex-military, petrol-engined trucks that were in use just after the war could be made to run faster than the police cars of the day and if you could get away from them, they couldn't 'nick' you!! Also, one small thing that doesn't seem to be picked up on by any of the comments I have read is that the trucks seemed to be running an awful lot of material into a building site that would have struggled to use it all!!

I have been delighted to read through some of the favourable comments here and agree that this film is an underrated gem - it obviously touched me as it was all like yesterday for me, but it also stands in its own right as a superb 'modern melodrama' with a star-studded cast, action, humour, a love angle, violence, death, road chases and the bad guys *getting it* in the end!!

(And it's now almost *50* years old...!!)

Ten out of ten - for a lot of reasons.....
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8/10
Fast , Racy , Period charm thriller
Les Chatfield13 April 2005
I loved this film a lot. Concerning a trucking company run by very underhand managers things come to a head when a trucker gets killed. An ex con attempts to discover the dark secrets of this down at heel company and the result is lots of high speed action with (slightly speed ed up) trucks screeching around country lanes between a quarry and grading plant.

The film is full of period charm with the post war Austerity England background very obvious.The scenes in the transport cafe are extremely atmospheric.

A very watchable film and hugely entertaining.
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8/10
Stout, taut, dark, star-studded neo-noir
Dire_Straits4 May 2005
I've seen this film twice. I'd like to see it again.

The look of the film-quality is that of many other British films around the same time period. It's dark and grainy (think "Frankenstein"). It makes for pleasant viewing, because of the tenseness provided the whole way.

The story is convoluted (and as someone else mentioned, where are the police?) and the film is sped up sometimes when they are driving, but you won't care - as the film is tense and there is a lot of action prevailing.

The film is loaded with stars-to-be. Sean Connery and Patrick McGoohan just to name two. Come on, you HAVE to watch this!

It seems the film is available in Region 2 on DVD, but it's not available in the US. Well it will be someday I hope.
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8/10
Original action movie
duncankennett31 January 2003
I've got a weakness for this movie. It is the story of a firm that employs lorry drivers to deliver on a short round trip and then pays the drivers for the number of trips per day, which creates strong competition and mad driving. The plot itself is perhaps a bit like a Western: honest driver vs mad and bad driver, which a love interest thrown in. But don't ignore it, its a good watch. 1950's lorry and bus spotters will enjoy it.
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7/10
A wonderful period piece
Frobnitz17 March 2007
This film is a remarkably unsentimental look at life for the less fortunate in post-war Britain. There are no tour-de-force performances, but this is not a film that demands them. A group of down on their luck men, finding work, love and friendship where they can, do what they have to do to earn enough money to keep them from crime (more or less), particularly when faced by venal employers who cheat and lie to them daily. There is no union for these men, no legal recourse, no Health and Safety Executive, they have nothing except themselves and the tenuous camaraderie they forge in the down and out bed and breakfasts they have to live in. Driving trucks to ferry gravel from a quarry to a building site, they cut every corner and take their own, and every other road user's, life in their hands as they struggle to get that one more run, that might get them one more pint in the pub. A veritable "who's going to be who" of British actors - Sean Connery, David McCallum, Herbert Lom (okay, Czech, but work with me...), William Hartnell (far from the lovable Dr Who), Stanley Baker, Patrick McGoohan and Sid James (in a rare straight role) all grimly play men on edge pushed to their limits - and sometimes beyond.

Oh yes - until 1965, there were no speed limits on British roads outside urban areas, which in some respects explains the lack of police.
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this is cold-blooded murder, and i'm not having any part of it!
christopher lyons25 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film when it had a rerun in my local cinema in the 1960.s. I think it is great, more realistic than many British thrillers of the period, except perhaps film like "The Long Haul" and possibly "Highjacked", (but the fight scene at the end of that is a bit sloppy to say the least!) I thought the final scene were McGoohan and Hartnell go over the cliff and the camera cuts back to them in the cab bracing themselves for the impact was horrible! The scene, I think, still has the ability to shock. Films up to that point would not have cut back to the baddies in mid-air like that, waiting for their inevitable end. Ma is also the only person who can keep the drivers under control.

This film also has some memorable quotes: "I'm the foreman"......"and that's not all you are" "Suppose we meet something coming the other way?"...."look on the bright side, suppose we don't?" "No I can't drive, they took my licence away"
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10/10
Fantastic Classic B&W British Film
Tomschk17 July 2001
What can I say! This is my favourite all time film. Every one of the all star cast put in great performances, most notably Stanley Baker pitting his wits against the perfect bad guy in Patrick McGoohan. The speeded up film of the trucks skidding round corners set to a frantic score may not win any special effects oscars but is genuinely exciting. The plot is not very complex but the fantastic characters portrayed in this film bring it to life. With a plethora of top class supporting actors in Sid James, Alfie Bass, David McCallum, not to mention a young Sean Connery, and many others, this film has 'classic' written all over it. The film is full of lines that you will find yourself saying long after you watch it. So if you see this film coming up on TV: watch it, video it, and watch it again!
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10/10
Bought this on DVD as not in video libraries
Anton Miles3 August 2004
I have watched Hell Drivers twice on television and unfortunately the VCR was not going.

It is a fantastic movie with heaps of action and drama and that very 50's UK feel. The actors then were not well known as they are today or even in the 80's and 90's.

All the time I was wandering "what if someone was driving in the opposite direction and they met head on"??

And, where were the Police? Oh well, when you want a cop they are never around!

Not finding this film at video libraries I purchased a DVD from the UK and have watched it another two times already, well worth a look.
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8/10
Red in Tooth and Claw
Moor-Larkin16 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I recall seeing this film on TV - must have been in the late 60's, early 70's. I remember enjoying it but feeling immensely betrayed because my TV hero, John Drake/Number Six, had become a bad guy. And not just bad, but pathological!

Patrick McGoohan made his movie name playing villains and they don't come more psychotic than this one. As the premier driver and the foreman, his character cuts a lonely figure. His company uses him to pressurise its workers, his colleagues hate his guts but are too frightened of him to do anything about it. His supervisor has made him complicit in a wages fraud that has turned him into a thief as well. By the end of the movie he has been driven to attempt murder. Poor Red (his initial is G. but we never get to know his Christian name) Redmond.

The only time poor Red finds happiness is at the Village dance. He has no interest in the girls. He drinks deeply of alcoholic solace and in due course finds release in a saloon-bar brawl. In physical communion with his fellow-men, Red briefly finds popularity because his nemesis, Tom (Stanley Baker), flees the fighting and so is thought to be a physical coward. Tom's apparent shame leads to the rest of the men supporting Red. This stasis cannot persist for very long and it doesn't; by the end of the film Red is dead.

Watching Patrick McGoohan, in such a full role, at such an early stage of his career left me with a small self-revelation. I never tire of watching him. There are many who seem to find him over-powering, his acting 'over-the-top'. Something about watching Red, after all these years, made me feel that I could see what Patrick McGoohan does.

He takes a role as scripted and finds a way to 'be' that person. Red was written to be a raving, uncomplicated madman...so that is how he is presented.

I think that must be why I always enjoy watching McGoohan. He has created that separation, so that you are not watching Patrick McGoohan 'as' Red. You are watching Red. This is what Red is. I wonder if that is why, all those years ago, I felt so betrayed. John Drake and Number Six were 'my' Patrick McGoohan (to a greater or lesser degree). When I watched Hell Drivers the first time, I expected 'my' Patrick McGoohan and got Red.

Nowadays I watch Patrick McGoohan movies because he never plays Patrick McGoohan, he plays whoever he is meant to be. That is interesting. When I feel the need to see 'my' Patrick again, I can always watch Danger Man or The Prisoner.
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Good British B Thriller
BJJ-215 September 2004
A Basically unconvincing storyline(those trucks using country lanes as Grand Prix practice for a start!)is compensated by an excellent cast and well-handled action scenes.The Film has a heavily Celtic feel about it;i.e The Welsh(Baker,Cummins),The Irish(McGoohan)and The Scottish(Connery,McCallum,Jackson),hence the brooding,intense acting we frequently see,though this is counter-balanced by more light-hearted performers(James,Bass,Lawson).The cast indeed is the main reason for watching,with the presence of future 1960's secret agents(Connery,McGoohan,McCallum)giving the film a resonance today that it certainly didn't have at the time of release.One last problem:why didn't they cast George Murcell(Italian-born)as Gino,instead of Czech Herbert Lom?
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7/10
Entertaining British Melodrama
Theo Robertson24 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In many ways HELL DRIVERS resembles the great American western SHANE . A stranger with a past walks in to town and finds that getting on with his life is not going to be possible due to outside dynamics . It lacks the colour and feel good factor of George Stevens genre masterpiece and possibly the internal conflicts but as a piece of gritty melodrama the film delivers

The plot revolves around ex-con Tom signing up for a road haulage firm and blacklisted American director Cy Endfield shoots the movie in a combination of film noir and British realist drama style . The scenes involving lorries zooming along English country roads with intrusive music does seem somewhat melodramatic but rightly Endfield concentrates on the character driven plot . Most of the drama centres around Tom's place within the firm's hierarchy where he's at the very bottom of the food chain and is singled out for the attention of violent bully " Red " Redman . Tom's lack of popularity nosedives further when he decides to walk away from a punch up at a dance hall

This is a very well acted film . Stanley Baker isn't an obvious choice for a mild mannered everyman but he pulls the role off very well . There's a host of faces who'd be well known in 1957 like Hartnell , Lom , James and Jackson alongside lesser known faces such as Connery and McCallum . Best performance is by Patrick McGoohan as Red the workmate from hell who is the stuff nightmares are made from . He also has a strangely prophetic line where he states he's not a prison warder !

If there's a problem with HELL DRIVERS it's that the story has too much melodramatic roots and is tied up a little too easily . Being a firm that is breaking the law Tom knows too much for his own good so the bad guys of the firm have to silence him which leads to an ending that seems at odds with the film's social grittiness . If the firm was law abiding Tom would still have found himself with the same problems from his workmates but Tom leaving the firm to work for a new company would have been very anti-climatic
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8/10
bringin in a load
RanchoTuVu29 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A cut-throat trucking company agrees to hire an ex-con as a driver if he can pass a road test. Hurtling down narrow roads with a load of gravel, he impresses his driving instructor enough to get offered the job. However, when he starts the following day, he faces the entrenched hierarchy of drivers, with the #1 man being a driver so totally consumed with his status in the company that he routinely risks his life by taking dangerous short-cuts across a quarry with exposed cliffs in order to get the most loads of all the drivers in a day. A rowdy lot, they all live in Ma's boarding house and take their suppers in a nearby diner where an attractive waitress takes a liking to the new guy who makes the mistake of taking #1's chair at the head of the table. In one scene at a village dance, the drivers start a giant brawl when they pick up on the local respectable women who were already there with other local and respectable guys. The office secretary falls for the new man while leading on an Italian driver who's a lot more sensitive than his co-workers are, who befriends the new man as well, creating an interesting if unnecessary subplot. The new man's brother is a cripple who runs a store with his mother, a bitter woman who has disowned her ex-con son. Filmed on perpetually cloudy and wet days, the film is dark and brooding and offers a few memorable roles, notably Patrick McGoohan as #l, who snarls through just about every scene up to the bitter end. Stanley Baker as the new guy has his ups and downs in a complex role, but shines in his scenes with Herbert Lom as Gino and Peggy Cummins as the desirous secretary Lucy. The real star is the action and photography (Geoffrey Unsworth) set amidst as stark and noir looking greyness as anyone's ever likely to see.
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Yes, not complicated, but fun nonetheless.
naseby14 September 2004
This film had its moments, mainly a rough portrayal in Patrick McGoohan which was quite strange, yet welcome. A classic British film noir undoubtedly. One thing though, and I apologise if this should be reserved for the message board, but I heard a rumour that the fight scene in this, between Stanley Baker and Patrick McGoohan was a bit too real. Rumours were that they didn't like each other and this instigated the 'realism'. But then, some people like to put this sort of thing about just for publicity's sake. i.e. like the Laurel and Hardy film where they demolish someone's house in a scene, only for the director to have 'apparently' told them they had got the wrong house. Such is movie folklore. Take care, naseby.
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Gritty excitement and tension
jadeandmillietennyson23 January 2000
The harsh life of a group of lorry drivers. Tension and excitement are the order of the day with this gritty British film.Most of the main players in this film went on to greater success: Stanley Baker is superb as ever. A very atmospheric film with a tense and dramatic end. If you like old British B&W thrillers, this is a must-see.
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7/10
Thrilling film about daredevil drivers face among them to get a fortune in their high-speed lorries
ma-cortes6 June 2014
Strong and no emotional barred tale dealing with roaring down the world's deadliest roads . As an ex-convict called Tom (Stanley Baker) attempting to leave his past behind , as he decides to start working for the Hawlett Trucking company (Hawletts' Yard was actually built on the Pinewood Studios back lot, just to the north of 'H' Stage , this is approximately where the massive '007' Stage stands today) , which transports gravel . It's an aggressive company, where speed is everything in which the drivers seem scarcely to stop for breath in their stakes to make fame and richness . 'Red' Redman (Patrick McGoohan as a cruelly villain) is the most experienced and veteran trucker ; he can do 18 runs in a day . Tom soon befriends Lucy, the secretary (Peggy Cummings) , and Gino (Herbert Lom, cast for once a likable role as Italian man) , an amiable driver who is Lucy's boyfriend . Then , there takes place a loving triangle . And the ex-con trucker tries to expose his boss's rackets .

This exciting film contains intense drama , action , violence , brawls , and truck races in their high-speed vehicles . The picture centers on the conflicts that occur when an honest driver for a lorry company confronts corruption in the organization and takes on the criminal ring leader ; it was regarded as a "B" movie in its day, but has developed a cult following that appreciates its intelligent script and fine cast . Crude as well as rough flick of daredevil lorry drivers confronting among them and with no pause for breath between the final of a fight and the start of another in their bid to make a fortune . This uncompromisingly tough working-class melodrama featured Stanley Baker, with whom Endfield formed a production company in the 1960s . Baker eventually starred in six of Endfield's films, including the routinely scripted drama Sea Fury (1958) about tugboat sailors and the rather over-the-top Sands of the Kalahari (1965) . Very good acting by Stanley Baker , he has a tremendous time as 'Tom' Yateley , an ex-convict who become involved into problems . The love scenes between Stanley Baker and Peggy Cummings have more bite than in most English movies of the time . Excellent support cast plenty of great British actors who will make a splendid career as cinema as TV , such as William Hartnell as Cartley , Wilfrid Lawson as Ed ,Sidney James ad Dusty , Alfie Bass as Tinker and Gordon Jackson as Scottie . David McCallum met his first wife, Jill Ireland during filming in the autumn of 1956 , Jill subsequently married to Charles Bronson . Most actors who play supporting roles in this film became well known in the 1950s , 1960s for their roles in film and television : Sean Connery (Agent 007 (1962)), Patrick McGoohan (Danger Man (1960), and The prisoner (1967)), William Hartnell (Doctor Who (1963)), David McCallum (CIPOL) (1964) , Peggy Cummings (Night of the demon), (Gun crazy) and Sidney James (the "Carry On" films). Some of them would all shoot to stardom in the next decade playing legendary cinematic spies .

The motion picture was well directed by Cy Endfield and being shot mostly at Pinewood Studios . Underrated Cy Endfield, resident of England after he was blacklisted realized this fascinating , propulsive film . Cy also directed good flicks such as ¨Child in the house¨, ¨Mysterious Island¨ , ¨Try and get me¨, ¨Hide and seek¨, ¨De Sade¨and ¨Sands of the Kalahari¨. Certainly the most visually impressive and successful of Endfield's films is Zulú (1964), the epic story of the Battle of Rorke's Drift in 1879 between a small contingent of British troops and a vastly superior force of Zulu tribesmen. Endfield lost interest in filmmaking after shooting the anti-war movie Universal Soldier (1971) , his last movie .
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