Hell Is A City (1960) Green Fingered In Manchester

Hell Is A City (1960) movie film poster artwork stanley baker

With an opening credit scene of you sat in the back of a police car driving down the bright lights big city streets looking like the beginning of Police Squad/The Naked Gun. Well apart from you don’t drive down a bowling alley or move your way through the birthing canal into the hands of a midwife!

Hell Is A City (1960) opening intro credit stanley baker

What with the black and white film print and way director Val Guest gets his film look, Hell Is A City could easily be the most American looking film set in North Britain, the city of Manchester. Even with the Moors and the vast industrial factories as the backdrop of the city,  it’s the dialogue and jazz score which give this film the American look.

Tagline – From dark till dawn … From dives to dames … From cops to killers … Hell Is a City…

Hell Is A City (1960) stanley baker Geoffrey Frederick

As with Val Guest’s absolutely brilliant The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Val writes the screenplay as well as directs and it shows. With frantic dialogue always firing between the characters, non-stop quips and banter, it’s a wonder to behold.

Hell Is A City (1960) cop car stanley baker

Starring the man with some awesome eyebrows Stanley Baker, he plays the tough and dedicated Inspector Harry Martineau. A man determined to catch an infamous escaped convict and hell raiser going by the name of Don Starling (John Crawford).  A violent criminal who heads back home to Manchester to cause mayhem with a bunch of old crooks and cons, resulting in a brutal street robbery for a heap of cash. What they didn’t expect was for the bills to leave a permanent green ink on their hands. Which gives Harry Martineau and his partner Detective Devery (Geoffrey Frederick) something to go on! Let the man hunt begin.

Hell Is A City (1960) Don Starling (John Crawford)

Tagline – MURDER MONEY marked his hands….. BLOOD STAINED his soul!

Now Harry has to not only shift through all the crooks and criminals to find a route to Don Starling, he also has to fend of the charms of the very saucy innuendo queen Lucky Luske (Vanda Godsell) the landlady of Harry’s favorite pub. But our Harry is a professional and only has eyes for his job which unfortunately means his poor wife is left home alone as he takes the stress off with another pint.

Hell Is A City (1960) stanley baker landlady Lucky Luske (Vanda Godsell)

Also part of the terrific cast in this fabulous film are the wonderful duo Billie Whitelaw and Donald Pleasence who play husband and wife Gus and Chloe Hawkins.

Hell Is A City (1960) donald pleasence and billie whitelawHell Is A City (1960) donald pleasence roof ladder attic

Can our Harry manage to track down the evil bastard Starling before he can cause more hell in the city? Can he sort out the really bad from the harmless wheelers and dealers. Can he save his marriage, get a decent ale down the pub and most importantly can he keep the busty lusty Lucky from seducing him? I whole heartily recommend this amazing British crime thriller. Track it down if you can.

Hell Is A City (1960) cars moors telephone box

The story is based on a novel by Maurice Procter whom I have just found out wrote a whole series of books starring the character Inspector Harry Martineau. I wonder if there were anymore transformed into movies? For those interested in the jazz score, the music is composed by bandleader Stanley Black.

Hell Is A City (1960) stanley baker cop and a lady of the night

Random observation – In a most wonderful scene with hoards of people gathering around on a hilly suburban park with the factories as a backdrop, you get to see the men gambling on a curious game involving two coins flipped in the air, betting on heads and tails. Its the second film I’ve seen recently to feature the game Two-Up that stars Donald Pleasence. The other being the amazing scene in Wake In Fright.

Hell Is A City (1960) two up coin flip game gambleHell Is A City (1960) stanley baker factories industral land

Be sure to pop on over to fellow film nut, the man with the knowledge, Mike’s Take On The Movies he has gone proper doolally for Stanley Baker and has done a fantastic movie marathon series on his films. Well worth a read.

Keep watching the silver screens and feel free to let me know what you thought of the film if you wish. All the best….. Wolfie.

7 thoughts on “Hell Is A City (1960) Green Fingered In Manchester

  1. I had no idea it was a series of books! Makes me look all the smarter when I said this film begs for a follow up…. I think??? lol. Love the line Innuendo Queen cause that’s what she was. With the treatment Stanley was getting at home, I’m not sure how he didn’t give in. Glad you liked it. Probably one of my three faves with Baker. The others being Zulu and Hell Drivers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wiki has listed 15 books in the series!! Crazy hey. Be hard to top that film though and they would of probably shifted in quality but would of been great to have some more Chief Inspector Martineau to watch! The end walk down the street scene was just brilliant. He encounters the “innuendo queen” hehe and a rather saucy lady of the night but he walks on by, a man dedicated to his work….. I seen and love both Zulu and Hell Drivers but it’s been a long time with both, so I need a rewind…. Thanks for putting me on to Hell Is A City. I really enjoyed it.


  3. […] Directed by Val Guest who also writes the screenplay. What I’ve noticed on the three Val Guest films I’ve recently seen, is his amazing use of dialogue. The banter, quips and general conversation are relentless and such a joy to watch. Never feeling forced and having the ability to form in-depth characters, you are so engrossed into the scenes that you don’t need action every five minutes. If you haven’t seen them, I very much recommend the following two, which I’ve done posts on if you fancied a read, The Day The Earth Caught Fire and Hell Is A City. […]


  4. Well, now I have TWO of these Val Guest classics I can watch…I’ll have to track this one down as well. Looking forward to hearing this dialogue…and to seeing the woman in the photo above, with the ‘H Wiles Ltd’ sign in the background…is that Vanda Godsell?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are in for a right treat I would say Todd. I’m not great with the actors to be honest but I think the girl might be Lois Daine. Vanda Godsell plays the rather saucy, dare I say getting on for GILF, landlady. She is much fun dropping barrage of innuendos 🙂


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