sees James Bond (Sean Connery), Doctor Who (William Hartnell), one of the men from UNCLE (David McCallum), the Prisoner (Patrick McGoohan) and a Professional (Gordon Jackson), all supporting Stanley Baker in this hard-as-nails British action picture realistically set in a bleak late-1950s England. Baker plays Tom Yately, an ex-con who takes the only job he can get--truck driving at breakneck speeds for a corrupt manager (Hartnell) and brutal foreman (McGoohan). The constant short runs and competition between the drivers makes for an intense atmosphere which inevitably explodes into violence. Baker's only friend is an Italian ex-POW played sensitively by Herbert Lom, while Peggy Cummings is a remarkably free-spirited heroine for a British film of the time. Baker himself is superb, quietly tough, and broodingly charismatic, McGoohan is compellingly malevolent and Hartnell simply chilling.
The film is consistently engrossing and often exciting, even when the plot spirals into melodrama towards the finale. One has to wonder where the police are during all this mayhem, but the fact that the screenplay, by John Kruse and Cy Endfield, received a BAFTA nomination suggests the scenario was at least reasonably realistic. Endfield also directed this, the second of six films he would helm for Baker, the most famous of which would be the all-time classic, Zulu (1964).
On the DVD: Hell Drivers is presented in an anamorphically enhanced ratio of 1.77:1. This means a little of the original 1.96:1 VistaVision (70mm) image is cropped at the sides, which is just noticeable in a few shots. The print used is excellent, with only very minor damage, and the mono sound is fine. The disc also includes Look in on Hell Drivers, a 1957 TV programme that offers interviews with Stanley Baker, Cy Endfield and Alfie Bass, as well as comments from genuine truck drivers confirming the realism of the story, and a contemporary 15-minute television interview with Baker, which focuses on Hell Drivers, Sea Fury(1958) (also directed by Cy Endfield) and Violent Playground (1958). The original trailer rounds out an excellent package. --Gary S Dalkin
The 2-Disc Special Edition dvd contains the following Special Features:
1, Brand new commentary with Sound Assistant Harry Fairbairn and journalist Andrew Robertson.
2, Theatrical Trailer.
3, The Stanley Baker Story.
3, Look In On Hell Drivers.
4, Strip Cartoon Gallery.
5, Promotional PDFs.
6, Danger Man: Loyalty Always Pays (first shown; 28 Oct. 1965, Patrick McGoohan with guest stars...Johhny Sekka, Errol John, Earl Cameron, Nigel Stock & Ray Brooks.
7, Bruce Lewis interviews Stanley Baker (1960's).
8, Who Killed Lamb?: a Thriller starring Stanley Baker (1974 TV Movie), co-starring Denis Lill, David Swift & Derek Francis.
9, News footage of the unveiling of a plaque by Stanley Baker (1970).
10, Return to the Rhondda - documentary featuring Stanley Baker.
11, Commemorative Booklet.
12, Image Gallery.