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on 21 March 2017
This film was good
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 October 2011
Richard Widmark {Capt. Adam Jones} stars in this Cold War thriller as the leader of a submarine expedition to the frozen depths of Alaska. His mission is to thwart the communist Chinese who are intent on kick starting World War 3.

Hell and High Water is one of the multitude of pictures that serve only as studio efforts made for made's sake. Take your leading actor, surround them with jobbing actors, and mold a picture together as best as you can. Sometimes a film can break free of its B and C movie roots to truly surprise, but others flounder to only serve as time fillers on terrestrial television. This film falls some where in between the two, not particularly bad exactly, but outside of a couple of tight sequences, not necessarily good either.

It was actually in premise, building up to be a promising film. Then we see a shapely pair of legs coming down the submarine stairs and we just know that this film will lose its edge, and sadly, where it's all going to end up. The insistence of many writers and film makers to shoe horn in a love interest in the grittiest of places rarely works, and here it most assuredly doesn't either. Not that Bella Darvi {owner of those shapely legs} is poor or is at fault for the film being average, it just takes the film in a direction that it didn't need to go. Tension is built up, with one face off submarine sequence being particularly hold your breath inducing, but the preposterous romantic angle on a submarine death mission is badly misplaced.

Tidy but unmemorable, and cribbing from Crash Dive released eleven years earlier, it's probably one for Widmark purists only. 5/10
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on 19 August 2012
Richard Widmark plays an ex-WW2 submarine commander offered a handsome purse to take a submarine on a recon. mission of some obscure Pacific islands. His employers are a rag-tag group of would-be heroes acting in the interests of world peace, etc during the cold war.

On the face of it, there is scope for a very absorbing thriller. However, Fuller's pacing, editing and script do very little to keep the pot boiling. A needlessly lengthy intro featuring various Parisienne landmarks serves as no more than discursive preamble to a press interview that lasts for half the time. Such misapplication of cinematic resources sets the tone of the movie. Worse still; a gigantic explosion that is the story's grand finale is actually shown at the opening, effectively serving as an anti-climactic spoiler.

Widmark was a very iconic and accomplished actor and makes the best of conflicts that are all too predictable, a corny script and even cornier romantic bi-line (there's a female passenger on the boat, and every gender cliche imagineable). He pretty well carries the movie. That said; there are moments of genuine tension and one or two nice set-pieces. I particularly liked the use of tracer-bullets in one shoot-out, not something you see in many older movies, which contributed to immediacy of danger and realism.

So; it's dated, corny and very much a B-lister, but if you can get it cheap it's just worth a watch. Fans of Widmark and submarines may probably enjoy it. But see Widmark in his other cold-war outing "The Bedford Incident". Now that's how it should've been done, and the French floozie left ashore.
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on 5 January 2016
Great Actor Rochard Widmark and superb actress Bella Darvi, thoroughly enjoyed and the music was great too.
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Supposedly made by Sam Fuller as a favour for Darryl F. Zanuck who stuck up for Fuller when his film “Pickup on South Street” came under attack from J. Edgar Hoover, this one does not have the usual strong Fuller hallmarks and lies a rather strangely beached out of date Cold War drama. The film has an odd James Bond feel to it as Widmark and his submarine crew hunt for a secret world threatening Chinese atomic base somewhere north of Japan. A whole hornets nest full of evil red Blofelds! Somehow a beautiful female scientist sneaks aboard to throw the male dominated world into turmoil. Even the normally oh so macho Cameron Mitchell moons around like a love struck schoolboy! Despite the distractions, will these men on a mission save the western world? It’s high stakes indeed!

Fuller uses familiar tough guy actors like Richard Widmark and Gene Evans in a film he apparently disliked but assisted in rewriting. It is always hard to put your heart and soul into a project that you have no love for! Fuller referred to it as his least favourite film in his notoriously unreliable memoirs “A Third Face”. That may be true, but it is not a bad little piece of fifties ‘red baiting’ propaganda. The Cinemascope experiment to demonstrate it could still be effective in the confines of a submarine works effectively, and there is enough tension to stave off the boredom. The film has a few odd moments to enliven things like Mitchell showing off his muscled torso to Darvi and a strange cat and mouse encounter with a Chinese submarine. The miscasting of Bella Darvi might be explained by the fact that she was the mistress of Zanuck, something Fuller must have accepted as collateral. This is far from the best of Sam Fuller, but there is enough here to pass the time pleasantly.
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on 26 March 2013
I'm glad I added this flick to my Sam Fuller films. When a director has actually fought in battle, I think you can see that through the film itself. So much of his work screwed up by studios, kept us from having more Prime Cut Sam Fuller movies. I like this one.
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on 10 January 2014
This film has a good story but it's nowhere near as good as a blu ray for quality but th.en it is an old film
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on 10 November 2013
Hadn't seen the film since I was 16. I am now 74. It sure brings back memories of my childhood days and those care free teenage years.
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on 13 March 2014
As a propaganda film it's laden with it but I first saw it as a kid. Great film. Love it.
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on 6 July 2015
Great start. Desperately unamusing next third where men show off tattoos to sexy French professor. It's pathetic, frankly. But then it moves up a couple of gears and just about makes some kind of action thriller genre worth the wait. The best bits are the travelogue scenes in Paris and London. The rather special Bella Darvi does her best in an absurd part and falls unconvincingly for Widmark who will meet her en Paris sometime after the Cold War ends for a few canapes and a tour of the town.
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