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VAL GUEST DIRECTS STANLEY BAKER IN HAMMER'S 'HELL IS A CITY'

John Crawford & Lois Daine Year: 1960 Rates: ****

The second and final Hammer feature with Val Guest directing his YESTERDAY'S ENEMY leading man Stanley Baker, HELL IS A CITY is not only a Noir-like Police Procedural but an Escaped Convict Procedural as sinister John Crawford hops from various former colleagues and lovers while intense cop Baker, who'd originally put him away and is revenge-driven to nab him back, visits/questions the same people, from a bookie's cheating wife (Billie Whitelaw ignoring rich husband Donald Pleasence who employed doomed Lois Daine); a flirty waitress; a stubborn salesman with a gorgeous deaf/dumb daughter (Sarah Branch); and featuring various locales run by a shady gang with deliciously pulpy nicknames like Clogger Roach...

A gritty hybrid of action and thriller, CITY hits a slight wall only during the third act after Crawford's equally desperate and resilient and entirely scene-stealing menace vanishes for a bit, focusing more into Baker sweating-out the real accomplices aided by faithful young partner Geoffrey Frederick: But overall the tightly-wound cadence, juxtaposing the tough good and rough bad guy — shifting smoothly from busy Manchester to the outlying Moors to a brawling rooftop climax — features raw violence even for 1960 after Film Noir had ended... yet this kind of stylistic crime thriller was just reigniting it with the British New Wave.

John Crawford in HELL IS A CITY
Stanley Baker in HELL IS A CITY
Stanley Baker in HELL IS A CITY with Geoffrey Frederick
Sarah Branch in HELL IS A CITY with Geoffrey Frederick
Vanda Godsell in HELL IS A CITY
Billie Whitelaw in HELL IS A CITY
Billie Whitelaw in HELL IS A CITY
John Crawford in HELL IS A CITY
Stanley Baker in HELL IS A CITY
Stanley Baker in HELL IS A CITY and John Crawford
Stanley Baker in HELL IS A CITY and Maxine Audley
Lois Daine in HELL IS A CITY and Donald Pleasence
HELL IS A CITY with Sarah Branch
A murdered Lois Daine in HELL IS A CITY
Stanley Baker in HELL IS A CITY with Geoffrey Frederick
Stanley Baker in HELL IS A CITY with Geoffrey Frederick
John Crawford and Billie Whitelaw in HELL IS A CITY
John Crawford and Billie Whitelaw in HELL IS A CITY
John Crawford as Don Starling in HELL IS A CITY
John Crawford in Hell Is A City and on THE TWILIGHT ZONE with Cliff Robertson
A driven John Crawford in Hell Is A City
Donald Pleasence and Stanley Baker in HELL IS A CITY
Warren Mitchell and Geoffrey Frederick on The Moors in HELL IS A CITY
Stanley Baker in Hammer's HELL IS A CITY
Stanley Baker with Charles Houston as Clogger Roach in HELL IS A CITY
Stanley Baker and Geoffrey Frederick in Manchester for HELL IS A CITY
Sarah Branch as Silver Steele in HELL IS A CITY
Sarah Branch as Silver Steele in HELL IS A CITY
Sarah Branch as Silver Steele in HELL IS A CITY
Sarah Branch as Silver Steele in HELL IS A CITY
Sarah Branch as Silver Steele in HELL IS A CITY
Geoffrey Frederick and Stanley Baker (with a cute extra) in HELL IS A CITY
Stanley Baker smoking in HELL IS A CITY

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