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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Hell Below Zero (1954)

When the Captain of a Norwegian whaling vessel in Arctic waters goes overboard, it is deemed a suicide but his daughter (Joan Tetzel) vehemently disagrees and suspects foul play. She travels to Antarctica to investigate with the help of the ship's first mate (Alan Ladd). Based on the novel THE WHITE SOUTH by Hammond Innes and directed by Mark Robson (PEYTON PLACE). This is quite a pleasurable action/adventure for the most part. It stumbles a bit when the mystery aspects are temporarily dropped and we're treated to a semi documentary style look at whaling ships in action before going back to the mystery portion again. Ladd was doing several films in England during this period (THE BLACK KNIGHT, RED BERET) and this utilizes a British cast and was shot in Pinewood studios with a second unit doing location work in Anarctica. Ladd has a nice rapport with Tetzel (Mrs. Oscar Homolka) but the film has a rare bad performance by Stanley Baker as the villain. He's so over the top obvious that he may as well have "villain" tattooed on his forehead. With Basil Sydney, Niall MacGinnis and Jill Bennett in a charming performance as the female Captain of a whaling ship.

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