Alan Ladd tracks killer Stanley Baker through the ice-flows of the Antarctic in fast-paced action thriller Hell Below Zero based on Hammond Innes’ novel The White South.
After his business goes belly-up, thrill-seeking Duncan Craig (Ladd) joins the crew of a whaling ship skippered by Judy Nordahl (Joan Tetzel). He’s attracted to the job because an air of mystery hangs over the vessel. Judy took over the helm after her father was murdered. Word is that Erik Bland (Baker), Judy’s ex-boyfriend and son of her father’s partner (Basil Sydney), was responsible for daddy’s demise. And the suspicions seem to be confirmed when, on a fateful fishing trip, Erik leaves Judy and Duncan for dead in the icy Antarctic waters. They survive, however, and, commandeering another boat, set off to catch the dastardly Erik.
This was one of a number of British films that Ladd made during the 1950s. He was on a high following his success in the previous year’s western classic Shane. His stoic machismo lends a welcome human element to the film’s exciting action sequences, which zip along thanks to Mark Robson’s crisp direction. Ladd finds the perfect foil in Stanley Baker, as reliably sinister as ever. Joan Tetzel may not be well-known nowadays, but back in the ’50s she was a celebrated Broadway actress, having been on the front cover of Life Magazine in 1948. The talent shows in her feisty performance.
UK | Warwick / 90 minutes / 1954
Alan Ladd as Duncan Craig
Joan Tetzel as Judie Nordhal
Basil Sydney as Bland
Stanley Baker as Erik Bland
Joseph Tomelty as Capt. McPhee
Niall MacGinnis as Dr. Howe
Jill Bennett as Gerda Petersen
Peter Dyneley as Miller
Susan Rayne as Kathleen
Philo Hauser as Sandeborg
Ivan Craig as Larsen
Paddy Ryan as Manders
Cyril Chamberlain as Factory Ship Radio Operator
Paul Homer as Kista Dan Radio Operator
Edward Hardwicke as Ulvik
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