Private Hell 36 (1954)

Private Hell 36 (1954)

Ida LupinoSteve CochranHoward DuffDean Jagger
Don Siegel


Private Hell 36 (1954) is a English movie. Don Siegel has directed this movie. Ida Lupino,Steve Cochran,Howard Duff,Dean Jagger are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1954. Private Hell 36 (1954) is considered one of the best Crime,Drama,Film-Noir movie in India and around the world.

Two detectives are investigating a robbery. Though they're able to find the money, their trail leads one of them to a woman with expensive tastes, and though he desperately wants to keep her, he knows his salary isn't enough for her to stay.

Private Hell 36 (1954) Reviews

  • Vintage Film Noir


    Strangely paced but generally effective film noir with clever echoes of Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment", about an unprincipled cop (Steve Cochran) who tries to get his honest partner (Howard Duff) to go along with making off with $80,000 in stolen loot. Co-written by twitchy, slinky actress Ida Lupino, who gives herself a juicy part, it moves along in fits and starts but has a kind of wobbly, dizzy energy that exerts a certain pull. Sort of like an ice skater that trips up a couple times in the middle of her routine, but gamely sees it through to the end. I've seen Steve Cochran now in three films ("Tomorrow is Another Day", and "I, Mobster" being the others) and it's clear that he was an actor in command of his craft. He had a very sly, sturdy appeal; he always seems to be laying back, calculating the odds, sizing up the other guy (or girl), figuring his chances. Watching his and Lupino's verbal chess match after they first meet and he is questioning her about what she knows, is pretty close to acting heaven. It all leads up to a nifty, suitably stark finish, and an arresting closing shot.

  • Alcohol, affectation, and ex-wives override any expectations


    Independent filmmaker Ida Lupino didn't intend to make a B picture with PRIVATE HELL 36 but that's what happened. In the early 1950s, director/writer/actress Ida and her writer/producer husband Collier Young broke away from the studio system by forming "The Filmmakers" and they used it to tackle such topical subjects as rape and "ripped from the headlines" social commentary. Young and Lupino soon divorced but they kept their working relationship going and even used each other's new spouses in their "classy" exploitation films. Ida directed Collier's wife Joan Fontaine in THE BIGAMIST (1953) and her follow-up film was going to be "The Story Of A Cop" starring her husband, Howard Duff. At the time, big city police corruption and the Kefauver TV hearings on organized crime were hot-button issues that made national headlines and were inspiration to writers like William P. McGivern who fashioned roman-a-clefs in films like THE BIG HEAT (1953), SHIELD FOR MURDER, and ROGUE COP (both 1954). Never one to let a good story go by, Ida Lupino threw her bonnet into the ring but by the time she was ready to make "Cop", she and Duff had separated. They soon reconciled but, afraid to rock the boat, Ida decided not to direct her husband and hired Don Siegel, who had just made RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11, for the job. The result, now called PRIVATE HELL 36, is the story of L.A.P.D. partners Steve Cochran & Howard Duff and what happens when temptation proves too much for one of them. Lupino actually tackles themes that many Films Noirs have been accused of doing now and then: capitalism, materialism, and the American Dream are the mitigating circumstances propelling the self-inflicted problems everyone involved have to confront. Loyalty and "the blue wall of silence" are also thrown in for good measure but the character study the film becomes disrupts the pace. The movie starts off with a murder/robbery but the real action doesn't come until after the half-way mark; in between are slow build-ups involving family man Duff and his wife, Dorothy Malone, and the single Cochran who's fallen for a witness in the case, nightclub chanteuse Ida Lupino. Ida's a bit old for her role as a sympathetic "femme fatale" but the dynamics between her and the seemingly laid-back Cochran are one of the film's highlights. The movie takes too long by half to get where it's going but the ride is fascinating -as is the back story: "Siegel was never comfortable working on the film and most of his memories of it are bad. He can remember little of it and readily admits that he may be blocking it out psychologically. The things he does remember are uniformly unpleasant. Siegel recalls there was a great deal of drinking on the set by the cast and producer. The script was never really in shape, ready for shooting, and Siegel was given little opportunity to work on it. He began to lose control of the picture, got into fights with Lupino and Young, had difficulty keeping Cochran sober, and got in the middle of arguments with his cameraman... One time, he recalls, Miss Lupino told Guffey that she wanted him to re-shoot something and even Guffey, whom Siegel describes as the mildest of men, exploded and became party to the bickering. 'I was terribly self-conscious on that picture,' recalls Siegel. 'I had just done a picture for Walter Wanger, RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11, in which I had great authority, did whatever I wanted to do. Now I was on a picture battling for every decision, working with people who were pretentious, talented but pretentious. They'd talk, talk, talk, but they wouldn't sit down and give me enough time. They wouldn't rehearse. Perhaps it was my fault. Cochran was a good actor, but not when he was loaded, and I had a hard time catching him even slightly sober. I was not able to communicate with these people and the picture showed it. Strangely enough, I personally liked both Ida Lupino and Young and still do, but not to work with." Cinematographer Burnett Guffey had just won an Academy Award for FROM HERE TO ETERNITY and would do so again with BONNIE & CLYDE over a decade later. Don Seigel hired his friend Sam Peckinpah as "dialogue coach" and Howard & Ida's little girl had a bit part. The alcohol-fueled acting (enhanced by Leith Stevens' jazzy score) is fine all the way around with Steve, as usual, being the stand-out as he slowly reveals his character to be a self-assured sociopath under the badge. Recommended -but not for the usual reasons.

  • Solid film noir

    bob the moo2001-12-04

    Cops Cochran and Duff investigate stolen money from a robbery that involved murder. When a stolen bill is dropped to a nightclub singer the cops use her to identify the man who gave it to her. However when the thief is killed in a car chase the two cops, one with a family the other with an expensive girlfriend, decide to take the money and hide it in a trailer park (hence the title). But with time comes pressure from within and without to come clean. This film came from Ida Lupino's filmaker company and was co-scripted by her and she plays the nightclub singer who can identify the killer. She is good in the role and gets plenty of help from young director Don Siegel. This is pretty small beer by his standard but it's still a pretty good thriller all the same. Some scenes are brilliant - the opening robbery of a drug store for one, while others are just good. But the gritty story isn't as good as I was hoping. Overall a solid thriller from a good team of director and actors but it doesn't really have anything that makes it stand out from other crime thrillers of the same period.

  • Cochran Steals More Than the Money


    Cop partners are tempted into stealing robbery loot, causing tension between them and troubles for their women. The crime drama may be a potboiler, but it's also redeemed by an effective cast. And that's despite one of the most obtuse film titles in Hollywood annals. Actually, the movie amounts to a Steve Cochran showcase, showing what that swarthy actor could do given the chance. Nonetheless, the competition's pretty stiff from Duff and Lupino, while Malone would have to wait a year for her break-through role in Battle Cry (1955). Cochran and Lupino do make a convincing tarnished couple, as another reviewer points out. At the same time, Cochran's devious cop amounts to one of the most unself-conscious performances I've seen from an actor. Note how at ease he is in the role, as if he really is cop Bruner. It's also director Don Siegel, a year away from his classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). His skills are especially apparent in that opening action sequence that hooks the audience right away. Also, the car-wreck scene is really well done—no stock footage there— including the smoothly executed thievery scene. However, the last sequence, in the trailer park, appears too abrupt and poorly staged, as though the production had run out of film or money or both. Kudos to co-producer Lupino who continued to be instrumental in turning out quality B- movies at a time when TV was slowing demand. Nothing memorable here, just a solid little crime drama with an expert cast.

  • Underrated Siegel/Lupino noir that inspired Stanley Kubrick


    Decent people struggling for keeping things going are suddenly tempted by a large amount of money coming from a long gone robbery. With its moral ambiguity and twists and the main focus on character development the writing and acting of "Private Hell 36" is above ordinary crime movies from that period. It is exactly what makes this early Don-Siegel-flick a true film noir despite a conservative crime movie posing as one. If you don't expect too much action and can relax while watching a slow paced middle section, which builds up tension carefully and therefore convincing, this one will give you a very enjoyable watch. Forget about the voice-over at the very end telling something about "good cops, bad cops", because that was simply the way they had to handle things in the fifties to avoid censorship. Besides the fact that Howard Duff appears a little too stiff once in a while, Ida Lupino, Steve Cochran and Dorothy Malone make it a real fine treat. I also liked the jazzy score - typical for that period on one hand, but perfectly creepy and surprisingly "modern" on the other. It is very obvious to me that Stanley Kubrick was highly inspired by this one for his very own sensational film noir "The Killing" that came out the year after. The race track as a central location, money blown out of an opened suitcase, a trailer park as a hiding place and especially the Ida-Lupino-character, which is very close to the one of Marie Windsor in "The Killing", brought that suggestion immediately up to my mind. In comparison to other movies at IMDb "PH 36" seems a bit underrated to me, maybe because everybody's expecting crime movies to be extremely fast paced as those that are made since the early 70's. In fact "Private Hell 36" is a grim little noir and for its fans that does mean something else. 8/10


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