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Hell Drivers (1957)

I came across this film listening to Doten Adenbayoh’s Up All Night radio programme.

A film buff called in to recommend this film which I duly acquired on DVD. It is the story of short-haul road haulage drivers.

Stanley Baker (Tom), lately out of prison, takes a job in a corrupt road haulage company.

His boss Cartley (William Hartnell) makes it clear that he must drive speedily as the aim is to do as many deliveries as possible from a waste site.

The foreman Red (Patrick McGoohan) holds the record of 18 and has it in for Tom.

Other drivers are played by character actors Sidney James, Alfie Bass, Herbert Lom and aspirants who went onto fine film careers – notably Sean Connery, Gordon Jackson.

David McCallum, as Tom’s younger brother Jimmy, also has an role.

Romantic interest is supplied by Lucy (Peggy Cummins) and Jill (a young Jill Ireland).

It is Stanley Baker who dominates.

There is always such an aura of authority in his acting.

He is severely provoked by Red but ignores him till at the end they have a fist fight. Both actors were trained boxers and their fight is one of the most authentic I have seen in films.

There is much period detail: the local dance where the drivers start a brawl; the caff where the drivers meet and eat; true harsh working conditions; the pervasive shabbiness of the times.  The action sequences are the fast driving of the hauliers.

Hell Drivers merits greater critical acclaim. You cannot say that of the next time director Cy Enfield and Stanley Baker worked together. That was in Zulu! which launched the film career of one Michael Caine.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts