Hell and High Water (1954)

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Hell and High Water (1954) Poster

During the Cold War, a scientific team refits a Japanese submarine and hires an ex-Navy officer to find a secret Chinese atomic island base and prevent a Communist plot against America that could trigger WW3.



  • Richard Widmark and Cameron Mitchell in Hell and High Water (1954)
  • Hell and High Water (1954)
  • Bella Darvi and Victor Francen in Hell and High Water (1954)
  • Bella Darvi in Hell and High Water (1954)
  • Richard Widmark and Bella Darvi at an event for Hell and High Water (1954)
  • Richard Widmark and Cameron Mitchell in Hell and High Water (1954)

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1 September 2016 | ma-cortes
| Submarine spectacle , nuclear war , intrigue and underwater scenarios by the great Samuel Fuller
This exciting film contains cold war heroics , non stop excitement , and full of tension and intrigue . Pure entertainment from Fuller , it is set during the Cold War , a privately-financed scientist Prof. Montel (Victor Francen , though Charles Boyer was originally cast for this role) , his assistant (Bella Darvi) and colleagues hire an ex-Navy officer (Richard Widmark) to conduct an Alaskan submarine (Sub used was WW2 ex Japanese sub) expedition (including familiar faces , as sailors appear the followings : Cameron Mitchell , David Wayne and Gene Evans who helped Bella Darvi with her dialogue) in order to prevent a Red Chinese anti-American battle , as well as a deviously plotted plan that could trigger WW3 . As they fit a Japanese submarine to lead them to Arctic Circle . Along the way , they are pursued by a Chinese submarine , stalking each other , and intent on ramming the other .

The intriguing premise gets to satisfy completely , as it has breathtaking moments , including an explosive climax and as when two submarines stalk each other through the depths . It mixes a twisted tale with intrigue and schoolboy science-fiction about a scheme that may lead to World War III . This sometimes little objective film lacks a sense of definitive character undermining its important message . This picture is more a submarine movie than a Warlike or Cold war film . The scene from the attack on the first island was taken from the movie ¨Crash Dive¨ (1943) , particularly the ammo exploding in the depot and the burning fuel cascading over the short cliff into the sea . Nice acting by Richard Widmark as an ex-Navy officer assigned to a dangerous mission : to find a secret Chinese atomic island base . Victor Francen plays well the obstinate scientific who designs the risked operation to prevent a Communist plot . And the gorgeous Bella Darvi , this marked the feature film debut of Darryl F. Zanuck's muse Bella Darvi, whose stage surname was a combination of the first names of Zanuck and his wife Virginia . Darvi became a 50s symbol for one of the many movie "Cinderellas" playing ¨Sinuhe the Egyptian¨ , ¨The racers¨ and whose bright and beautiful Hollywood fairy tale would come crashing down, ending in bitterness and tragedy . Bella finally committed suicide in 1971 after turning on the gas stove in her apartment, she was only 42.

The movie displays a colorful cinematography in CinemaScope by Joseph MacDonald . This was Twentieth Century-Fox's fifth CinemaScope production . Thrilling and stirring musical score by the prolific Alfred Newman . In this picture Samuel Fuller proved his talent of vision and intelligence . Fuller being especially known as filmmaker of such exploitation films as ¨Shock corridor¨ and ¨The naked kiss¨ . Fuller made various Western as ¨I shot Jesse James(49)¨, ¨The baron of Arizona (50)¨, ¨Run of the arrow¨ (56) , ¨Forty guns(58)¨, and ¨The meanest men in the West (76)¨ , but his most fluid and strongest work lies in his war films as ¨Steel helmet(51)¨ , ¨Fixed bayonets(52)¨, ¨Hell and high water (55)¨, ¨China gate (57)¨ , ¨Merrill's Marauders (62)¨ and ¨The Big Red One (80)¨. Being his best films : ¨Pick up on South Street¨(53) , ¨Underworld Usa¨(60) and ¨White Dog¨(82) . Rating : Better than average . Worthwhile watching .

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