Private Hell 36 (1954)

Passed   |    |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Private Hell 36 (1954) Poster

When 2 detectives steal $80,000 from a dead robber, one of them suffers from a guilty conscience which could lead to murder.


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20 December 2010 | dougdoepke
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.

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