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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hell Drivers (1957)

An ex-convict (Stanley Baker) signs up as a driver with a trucking company with dubious ethics. They encourage driving at reckless high speeds and reward the men with bonuses for the more trips they make. The ex-con faces his nasty rival (Patrick McGoohan) who won't tolerate anyone driving faster than him. Directed by Cy Endfield (MYSTERIOUS ISLAND), the movie is a tightly skilled piece of action cinema. Its characters aren't particularly fresh and indeed when we first meet Herbert Lom's character, within minutes we can guess what his fate is going to be. The film is notable for its cast including some young actors who would go on to major careers like Sean Connery, David McCallum, Jill Ireland and McGoohan. It's McGoohan who delivers the film's only bad performance. If I hadn't seen him giving better performances, based on his work here I'd assume he was one of the dregs of the acting profession. In his scenes with Baker, McGoohan goes into overdrive while Baker underplays and McGoohan just ends up looking ridiculous. The crisp B&W cinematography is courtesy of the great Geoffrey Unsworth (2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY). With Peggy Cummins, Wilfrid Lawson, Sidney James, Marjorie Rhodes, Gordon Jackson and Marianne Stone.

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