Hell On Frisco Bay

  • 1956
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime

Not the best of Ladd's tough crime dramas but not bad after all, especially with the electric Robinson present. Ladd is an ex-cop who has been sent to prison on a manslaughter conviction. He was framed, and upon his release he sets out to find the real killer. When he returns to San Francisco, he shuns his empathetic wife Dru, accusing her of seeing other...read more

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Not the best of Ladd's tough crime dramas but not bad after all, especially with the electric Robinson present. Ladd is an ex-cop who has been sent to prison on a manslaughter conviction. He was framed, and upon his release he sets out to find the real killer. When he returns to San

Francisco, he shuns his empathetic wife Dru, accusing her of seeing other men in his absence, although he knows this is not true. It's a device to make sure she stays clear of him while he plays the dangerous game of tracking down the murderer. Moreover, Ladd wants the man behind the killing, the

waterfront Mafia rackets czar Robinson, as vicious a brute as ever overlorded a mob of cutthroats. Robinson enjoys bossing about his chief henchman, Stewart, the man who did the killing for which Ladd was convicted. Whenever Stewart is in Robinson's presence he begins to stammer, but he ruthlessly

carries out the boss's orders, murdering more witnesses when Ladd's one-man investigation begins to reveal the truth. Though married, Robinson has no reservations about propositioning other women, even Stewart's aging mistress, Wray. Stewart takes that insult, but later tells Robinson that he has

completed his last killing for the boss. He knows, much he says, and his silence is worth something, perhaps an equal partnership, an equal sharing of the loot. Robinson squashes his faithless flunky, killing Stewart for daring to presume beyond his rank. Robinson's wife, Vanni, informs on her

husband when she learns that he had earlier ordered Stewart to murder her nephew to keep him from talking. Robinson prepares to flee south of the border and escapes in a speedboat. But Ladd is right behind him in another motor launch. They race across San Francisco Bay in a wild shootout that

finishes mobster Robinson. Ladd emerges victorious with wife Dru at his side.

The film is somewhat leaden in spots. Ladd was ill during shooting, having just recovered from a bout with chicken pox, and his weakened state shows as he moves and talks without enthusiasm. Robinson, that wonderful and venerable actor, does a reprise of all his early gangster roles, particularly

LITTLE CAESAR (1930), and steals every scene. Dru is a prop here, and when she does appear, she is unconvincing and overacts. Stewart, who died in 1986, is simply superb as the much-picked-upon henchman. This was Ladd's production all the way, and he picked a lot of old talent that had been with

him at Paramount when his star shone brightly there, hiring Tuttle to direct, the same man who had helmed his first big hit, THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942). Ladd's loyalty extended to hiring cameraman Seitz who, though aged and almost enfeebled, managed to record an exciting tale. Busty

star-to-be-Mansfield appears as a blonde floozy in a bit part.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Not the best of Ladd's tough crime dramas but not bad after all, especially with the electric Robinson present. Ladd is an ex-cop who has been sent to prison on a manslaughter conviction. He was framed, and upon his release he sets out to find the real kil… (more)

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