Private Hell 36 (1954)

Private Hell 36 (1954)

“Wanting it and taking it are two different things.”

When a corrupt police detective (Steve Cochran) in love with a nightclub singer (Ida Lupino) decides to steal some money found during an apprehension, his partner (Howard Duff) reluctantly agrees, but worries about the impact this will have on life with his wife (Dorothy Malone) and young daughter.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Corruption
  • Dean Jagger Films
  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Don Siegel Films
  • Dorothy Malone Films
  • Ida Lupino Films

Early in his career, Don Siegel directed this low-key noir, which was the final production of former-husband-and-wife team Collier Young and Ida Lupino (who went on to marry Duff and have an affair with Cochran — talk about drama behind the scenes!). Cochran is eminently watchable, showing yet again what a fiery presence he had on-screen:

… and both Duff and Lupino are believable in realistic supporting roles. While the storyline doesn’t go anywhere particularly interesting or novel, this remains a well-told tale of how easy it is for cops to be seduced by the lifestyle they’re tasked with monitoring.

Note: The film’s title (not a great one, IMO) refers to a trailer (#36) housing the ill-gotten money which drives the narrative.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Steve Cochran as Sgt. Bruner
  • Howard Duff as Sgt. Farnham
  • Ida Lupino as Lilli Marlowe
  • Burnett Guffey’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look.


One thought on “Private Hell 36 (1954)

  1. Not must-see.

    Noticeably low-budget. Not bad but not great; Siegel’s direction helps to sustain interest and the performances are serviceable without being more than superficial.

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