23 March 2017

HELL DRIVERS. (1957) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




HELL DRIVERS. (1957) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY CY ENDFIELD.
STARRING STANLEY BAKER, HERBERT LOM, WILLIAM HARTNELL, PEGGY CUMMINS, PATRICK MCGOOHAN, JILL IRELAND, SID JAMES, SEAN CONNERY, GORDON JACKSON, DAVID MCCALLUM AND MARJORIE RHODES.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I don't even know where to begin telling you about how good this vintage British film is. It has an all-star cast to outshine all other all-star casts, and the quality of the writing and acting sparkles like my conversation at a party after a few drinks.

After too many drinks, the quality of my witticisms dips a little but that's neither here not there. It's even beside the point, if I may say so. What's important now is HELL DRIVERS, on release at the moment thanks to the combined efforts of NETWORK DISTRIBUTING and BLUE DOLPHIN PR & MARKETING. Let's have a wee look at the plot now.

I have a hige crush on Stanley Baker, the ruggedly handsome Welsh actor who plays the lead male here. This is his first collaboration with director Cy Endfield, but it won't be his last. Remember ZULU (1964), quite simply one of the most magnificent battle films ever made?

Stanley Baker played Chard, the bridge-building soldier who ended up fighting four thousand Zulus alongside a marvellous British actor of equal calibre, Michael Caine. This was always my favourite role/film of Stanley Baker's until I saw him in HELL DRIVERS. Move over, ZULU. There's a new cock in this here hen-house...!

In HELL DRIVERS, Baker plays Tom Yately, an ex-con fresh out of the can who just wants to start over with his life. Quite understandable, that. A handy billet in Ma West's respectable boarding-house for working-men and a job driving a truck for Hawlett's Contractors help to make him feel like he's on his way at last. His new life is not without its complications, however.

Tom's job of transporting something called 'track ballast' from the yard to the quarry and back again, as many times a day as he can manage it, might have been reasonably safe if all the lads in the yard didn't compete to see who could transport the most loads in one day.

Red, the bully-boy foreman of the yard, is top dog for transporting loads and he guards his position jealously. If Tom wants to compete with Red, and his masculine pride insists that he must, he'll have to drive his load (sure hope he doesn't shoot it too soon....!) at breakneck speed, plus he'll come into direct conflict with the jealous Red. Red, suspecting the presence of another alpha male in the yard, is already champing at the bit at the smell of impending trouble...

There's actually an episode of THE SIMPSONS in which Homer engages in a steak-eating contest with a trucker named Red Barclay, whom he keeps mistakenly calling Tony Randall. When Red dies from an over-ingestion of meat products, Homer makes it his business to deliver Red's load on time. Risky business, that, interfering with another man's load...! HELL DRIVERS doesn't feature an eating contest but it'd be nice to think that THE SIMPSONS took some inspiration from it for this episode. Any-hoo, back to the film.

There are complications for Tom of a romantic nature too. His boss's secretary, the blonde and perky Lucy, is warm for his form from the moment she sets eyes on him. But Lucy is Gino's girl, and Gino, wonderfully played by Herbert Lom, is Tom's only real friend at the yard. Friends don't do the dirty on each other, do they? Bros before hos and all that. Jill at the diner has her eye on Tom too. Maybe he should play it safe with her? Or maybe he'll just let his heart have its head and be done with it...

The driving is incredibly fast and incredibly dangerous-looking. I sincerely hope that no chickens were attempting to cross the road when the ten-ton trucks were literally roaring by during the filming of the movie. 

Things get so hairy between Tom and the other drivers that the movie starts to look like Steven Spielberg's DUEL in places, a much later film that had a male motorist being menaced by the unseen driver of a giant truck as he zipped (or tried to) along the freeway. A truck is a dangerous weapon. Be very careful where or at whom you point it...

I can't finish this review without saying a word about the class of '57. The film is, in fact, famous for numbering amongst its cast members a load of guys who went on to do brilliantly in other things. Stanley Baker's fellow truck-drivers at Hawlett's yard, a workplace where all is not as it seems (is something rotten in the state of Denmark?), include the following hunks:

Sean Connery, who went on to live every man's dream as James 007 Bond; Gordon Jackson who wound up exchanging chit-chat with Mrs. Bridges in superb British drama UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS as the butler, the prim and proper Mr. Hudson; Sid James, who would become a household name for his role in the CARRY ON films. 

Oh, and by the way, Sid's famously dirty, raucous laugh is very much in evidence here in HELL DRIVERS; Patrick McGoohan was THE PRISONER and David McCallum, cute-as-a-button here as Tom's crippled brother Jimmy, to whom he has a lot to make up, would go on to be THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. 

Now, wouldn't that lot make for one hell of a graduation picture...? Watch the scene where they all comport themselves rather badly at a town dance to the musical stylings of THE MERRY-MAKERS. It's pure cinematic gold. Bad boys out on the town type of thing.

This utterly unforgettable vintage British film is out now, as I've already mentioned, on Blu-Ray and DVD courtesy of NETWORK DISTRIBUTING and BLUE DOLPHIN PR & MARKETING. 

In fact, NETWORK DISTRIBUTING and BLUE DOLPHIN PR & MARKETING are currently on a mission to bring quality vintage British films to the viewing public. NETWORK is actually the home of 'The British Film' collection, the ultimate destination for vintage British films. They've already recently released BLONDE FIST (1991) and the excellent JACK THE RIPPER starring Michael Caine will be on release from Monday, 27th March, 2017.

In the meantime, watch HELL DRIVERS. In no other classic British film will you see such a galaxy of stars-in-waiting. In just that one respect alone, HELL DRIVERS is truly unique. It's one hell of a good old-fashioned picture from the days when men were men and women were jolly bloody glad of it. Whatever you do, don't miss it.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com













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