7.2/10
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21 user 35 critic

Hell Is a City (1960)

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

Director:

Val Guest

Writers:

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

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Cast

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 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 Lois Daine ... Cecily
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

MURDER MONEY marked his hands... BLOOD STAINED his soul! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 November 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hetzjagd See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£115,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(original)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

No matter how the coins are thrown in the "tossing school" game, they always fall within the same small area (that is, the film frame). See more »

Quotes

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 »

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User Reviews

 
Suitably dark British noir
26 April 2009 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Hammer studios are, of course, best known for their horror films; but early on in the studio's history, there were a number of noir style films produced; and while this is one of the later efforts, it's surely one of the best! The film is clearly intended to mimic the American film noir being produced en mass during the fifties; although the film does retain an aura of Britishness which is achieved through the locations and strong accents of most of the lead characters. The film is suitably dark, though not as dark as many of its American counterparts. The plot focuses on a criminal that has escaped from jail after committing a robbery that went wrong. Inspector Harry Martineau, who happened to have gone to school with the criminal, guesses that he will return home to Manchester in order to pick up his share from the job. The criminal does return to Manchester and ends up with the inspector on his tail as he moves through the underworld, trying to find a place to hide.

Writer-director Val Guest (who previously directed a handful of Hammer's earliest horror films) spins an interesting story that remains intriguing throughout. The dialogue is surprisingly witty at times, and the characters are 'cool' enough to rival the films that this one is trying to imitate. There's more to the plot than just what is immediately going on, and the inspector's personal life is one of the main sub-plots. This thread is somewhat well expanded; although it has to be said that some other areas of the plot do not go as far as they could; although at only ninety minutes, there was obviously only so much that could be squeezed in. The film moves forward well, although at times it is a little silly; a plot that hinges on the idea of nobody looking at their hands is somewhat far fetched. The cast is strong, with Stanley Baker and John Crawford taking the lead roles and doing well with them; there's also a small appearance for the great Donald Pleasance. Overall, Hell is a City is an excellent British noir, and well worth a look.


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