26 user 37 critic

Hell Is a City (1960)

In Britain, a Manchester police inspector becomes obsessed with capturing a criminal who escapes from prison.


Val Guest


Val Guest (screenplay), Maurice Procter (novel)
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Stanley Baker ... Det. Inspector Harry Martineau
John Crawford ... Don Starling
Donald Pleasence ... Gus Hawkins
Maxine Audley ... Julia Martineau
Billie Whitelaw ... Chloe Hawkins
Joseph Tomelty ... Furnisher Steele
George A. Cooper ... Doug Savage
Geoffrey Frederick Geoffrey Frederick ... Det. Devery
Vanda Godsell ... Lucretia 'Lucky' Lusk
Charles Houston ... Clogger Roach
Joby Blanshard ... Tawny Jakes
Charles Morgan Charles Morgan ... Laurie Lovett
Peter Madden ... Bert Darwin
Dickie Owen Dickie Owen ... Bragg
Lois Daine ... Cecily


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


From its roof-top suspense to its back-alley violence... See more »


Crime | Thriller


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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Charles Morgan would also play a pool hall owner in another British crime film, The Boys. See more »


The dead girl on the moors appears to blink but in fact she doesn't and it is her hair blowing in front of her eyes which causes this illusion. See more »


Inspector Martineau: You on or off duty?
Devery: I'm just going off.
Inspector Martineau: Come on, I'll buy you a drink.
Devery: Well it's very nice of you, but I'm afraid...
Inspector Martineau: Teach her to wait. That's one thing a policeman's girl must always learn.
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 »


Featured in Charters & Caldicott: Not Cricket (1985) See more »

User Reviews

Hammer noir
1 November 2015 | by lee_eisenbergSee all my reviews

Hammer Films, best known for horror movies, stepped into film noir with Val Guest's "Hell Is a City". Stanley Baker plays a police inspector who suspects that an escaped criminal will head for Manchester to collect some loot. The dreary look of the city is as much a character as any of the actors. The post-war British film industry wasn't generally known for these sorts of movies, but they did an excellent job here. The chase at the end of the movie is impressive but I thought that the most effective scene was the whole sequence where the criminal hides in the woman's house.

I've liked every film noir that I've seen, but HIAC has to be one of the best. Baker's forceful performance as the hardened inspector is the epitome of acting. I recommend the movie.

The rest of the cast includes Donald Pleasance (Dr. Loomis in the "Halloween" franchise), Billie Whitelaw (the nanny in "The Omen") and Joseph Tomelty (the father of Sting's ex-wife).

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Release Date:

13 November 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hetzjagd See more »


Box Office


GBP115,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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