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Hell Is a City [DVD] [1960] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

Price: £63.84
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Product details

  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RYL8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 283,906 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Set and filmed in 1960 in and around the city of Manchester, this is a great crime thriller from the early years of Hammer Films. It stars the late great Stanley Baker as Inspector Harry Martineau on the trail of vicious hoodlum Don Starling played by John Crawford. Also look out for Donald Pleasance and a young Billie Whitelaw as a husband and wife who act together again after appearing in the previous year's 'Flesh and the Fiends'.
The film contains some superb location scenes of the city as it then was, trying to revitalise after the German bombing campaign and the rationing depravations after the war. Baker is superb in the role of a gritty police inspector chasing a murderous thug across Manchester and the nearby moors, whilst attempting to come to terms with his fraught marriage to his lonely wife played by Maxine Audley.
Keep an eye out for Warren Mitchell of 'Death us do Part' fame as a travelling salesman and a fleeting appearance of Doris Speed (Annie Walker in Granada TVs Coronation Street) as a hospital sister.
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i sometimes forget that "hammer" didn't just produce horror films every year. others genres covered include thriller(like this one), war, comedy, action/adventure etc.

i haven't seen many "hammer" thrillers, but this is a good place to start.

stanley baker scores as an overworked, frustrated, police inspector who is hunting down a sadistic killer who's broken out of jail and looking for stolen money.

there are a few familiar faces in this one; donald pleasence, billie whitelaw, george a. cooper, warren mitchell.

a tough and somewhat daring film, there is more foul language than i thought, a few minor sexual references and quite nasty violence, but a "P.G" rating is suitable.

it's an added bonus that the film wasn't just based in manchester, but actually filmed there as well. that adds realism.

it is a shame to think that by the mid-60s, stanley baker would end up as the forgotten film star; where as the likes of michael caine and sean connery would prosper to superstardom.

one of the better police thrillers i have seen.
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"Hell is a City" is an amazing, chilling noir thriller - essentially a manhunt between a cop and his nemesis in dark, cloudy Manchester. The opening credit scene, taken from the viewpoint of a police car rushing in the night through the streets of Manchester, immediately grips the audience with its pace and its persistent, rhythmic and jazzy music score. From that moment onwards, the tension is NEVER released and we watch the complex interaction between cops, women and baddies in an interwoven plot that never ceases to surprise. No-one is who he or she seems to be in this picture and everyone is haunted by a past he or she would like to forget. Even the main character, cop Harry Martineau, has to deal with the ordinary ordeals and challenges of life - marriage in his particular case. This picture, Val Guest's best at the stage of his career, carries the stamp of his director, who always tried to maintain as realistic a tone as possible in the most unrealistic situations. This realism helps this very noir drama, but it is also true to say that Manchester and its surroundings play an essential part in the success of this movie. The set pieces in the moors (for the coin-tossing school) and in the rooftops (for the breathtaking finale) take a superior dimension because of Manchester. And then the cast is flawless: Stanley Baker is the haunted cop, brutal and insecure, Maxine Audley is beautiful as his long-suffering but also selfish wife, John Crawford is the ideal psychopath. Bit parts are also very successful thanks to Donald Pleasance, the sexy Billie Whitelaw and the stunning Sarah Branch, who plays the mute girl with disarming facility. Overall a great picture, a masterpiece of Noir British thriller.Read more ›
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My mother used to cringe at black and white films. How she would have reacted nowadays to the appreciative audience of such gems as "Hell Is A City" I shudder to think. Is it not Alex Baldwin who said that all the best films were made in black and white? I completely agree, though there is the odd exception.
Without the benefit of computer graphics and sophisticated special effects, here we have a fast moving police thriller. The wonderful Stanley Baker plays the lead supported by a cast of talented and experienced mega-stars. The film is violent for its time and the music is atmospheric and effective.
If you like these old gritty movies, you will love this one. It ought to be watched by any film buff if nothing more for than to see just how good a film could be made in those days without the frills of modern technology and it is a lesson in good acting. A splendid British attempt at cops and robbers.
I loved the old cars.
VIEW IT!
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I bought this old film purely because it was filmed in my home city, Manchester, around the time of my (immediate postwar) childhood and I remember as a child watching some of the scenes being acted out on rooftops above the city. It did indeed bring a good deal of nostalgia and enjoyment. The dialogue is quite old fashioned and is delivered at rapid fire speed - perhaps film was expensive just after the war and the actors had been told to act quickly! Also, the acting is a little over dramatic and the policeman's wife has great difficulty maintaining her forced northern accent, but these factors too brought me some amusement. The plot also reflects a time when women who thought themselves middle class expected to stay home all day, sitting, perfectly coiffured and smartly dressed, awaiting their man's return. I had forgotten how many bomb sites there were in the Manchester of my childhood, though these were in fact our adventure playground. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film and shall keep it to show my grandchildren how life was back in my childhood. I'd recommend this for a rainy afternoon's nostalgic viewing. Don't forget the popcorn.
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