Private Hell 36 (1954) Dirty Harry & Super Woman Ida Lupino

Private Hell 36 (1954) movie poster one sheet ida lupino

“A policeman, unlike most men, lives close to evil and violence. He can, like all men make his own private hell. The good pass through it with minor burns, the evil stumble and fall and die in strange places”

Private Hell 36 is the story of two top LA detectives investigating a series of stolen marked $50 dollar bills which keep popping up across the city. Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran) and Jack Farnham (Howard Duff) aren’t just two tough cops, they are also close friends, each has got the others back. Surely nothing can get in the way of this close bond?

Private Hell 36 (1954) Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran) and Jack Farnham (Howard Duff)Private Hell 36 (1954) Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran) and Jack Farnham (Howard Duff) ida lupino

In walks the sassy outspoken free spirited club singer Lilli Marlowe (Ida Lupino) a lady with a taste for cold cash money and the finer things in life. Having become a lead in the investigation after unknowingly passing off one of the dodgy $50 she had received as a tip from an admirer, she’s becomes, under duress, a spotter for the two cops. Working out their mark probably hangs out at the racecourse, the three wander the crowds hoping Lilli can spot the criminal.

Private Hell 36 (1954) Steve Cochran and ida lupino

During these surveillance times together Cal starts to fall for Lilli’s feisty boisterous manner and stands up to the barrage of cutting belittling remarks. She’s a girl with expensive tastes and Cal is spellbound. Meanwhile Jack is a new Dad struggling with sleepless nights, the booze and trying to make ends meet.

“Wanting and taking are two different things”

Private Hell 36 (1954) Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran) and Jack Farnham (Howard Duff) driving car

Can these two find any coin to rub together? surely these two upstanding prestige detectives wouldn’t be deceitful in anyway? Anyhow they are best buddies and look out for each other. You need to tune into this fine film noir thriller to see what the story brings.

Directed by Dirty Harry “Don” Don Siegel. His opening fight scene on the shop floor is just ace, it’s wild and instant and feels so real as they jostle around on the floor and throw each other through book stands and windows. Don Siegel always film’s wonderful realistic brawling scenes with Riot in Cell Block 11 and The Lineup just two prime examples. All these skills will become part of the gritty 70’s action cop thrillers to come.

Private Hell 36 (1954) Ida Lupino camera actress director producer writer

Private Hell 36 is written by EX husband and wife team Ida Lupino and Collier Young for their production company The Filmakers. In a time of male dominated Hollywood studios, British born Ida Lupino didn’t take any shit. Not content with just acting, she produced, did screenwriting, producing and directed a bunch of films including the superb The Hitch-Hiker. She’s quite the woman and a hell of a tough cookie I can well imagine.

Here’s a documentary on Ida Lupino on an episode of Through The Lens.

Too many films to see and not enough time! Slowly working my way through. Hope you enjoy the choice picks I select from the weekly viewings? Wolfie.

PS I just had this thrown at me from Jazz Head Alan McKinnon radio DJ over at Duvet Rustling Jazz. A tune by Steve Kuhn Quartet entitled Ida Lupino. It’s one hell of a funky number and can only imagine whenever she arrived on set this was her walk on music!

9 thoughts on “Private Hell 36 (1954) Dirty Harry & Super Woman Ida Lupino

  1. Cracking flick! I love your spot on description of Ida. She was one of the best directors and actresses of her time, and one tough gal too. Loved the music that could have been her theme too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey thanks Maddy. I watched her documentary last night and wow she went through it. Passing herself off for 14 when she was 12! The transitions she went through to get the parts she wanted and becoming one of two female directors in the sea of men. Very impressive. Haha yes the funky walk on music suits her attitude.

      Liked by 1 person

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