Private Hell 36

  • 1954
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime

This routine good-cop-gone-bad film is lifted from the doldrums with some stunning direction by Siegel and strong performances by Lupino, Cochran, and Duff. The film opens with a violent robbery in New York City which nets $300,000 and leaves one man dead. The story then picks up in Los Angeles where two detectives, Cochran and Duff, have been assigned...read more

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This routine good-cop-gone-bad film is lifted from the doldrums with some stunning direction by Siegel and strong performances by Lupino, Cochran, and Duff. The film opens with a violent robbery in New York City which nets $300,000 and leaves one man dead. The story then picks up in Los

Angeles where two detectives, Cochran and Duff, have been assigned to trace a $50 bill that was among those stolen in New York. While close friends and good partners, Cochran's and Duff's personalities are practically opposite. Duff is a secure family man married to Malone, while Cochran is a

bitter loner always on the make. Both men share a dissatisfaction with their work, however, resentful of being paid so little to risk so much. Their investigation leads to Lupino, a nightclub singer who was given the $50 bill as a tip. In the hope that she will be able to spot the man again, the

detectives take Lupino to the racetrack where she scans the crowd. A romantic relationship develops between Lupino and Cochran, though both know it will not last because the singer is out to marry a rich man. Eventually, the man who passed the hot money is spotted leaving the racetrack and the

detectives follow. A high-speed auto chase ends with the criminal being killed when his car cracks up on the side of the road. Cochran and Duff are amazed to find nearly $80,000 blowing around in the ditch. Seeing his chance to get revenge on the police department, Cochran pockets most of the

money and gives half to Duff, who accepts it reluctantly. They stash the money in a trailer park (in unit No. 36, hence the title) for safekeeping. The men then report back to the station with their commander, Jagger, apparently none the wiser. Hoping his new-found wealth will convince Lupino to

marry him, Cochran pops the question. Lupino, however, deduces where the money came from and wants nothing to do with it. Still in love with Cochran, she decides they would be happier without the money. Meanwhile, the partner of the dead man phones to blackmail the detectives. Cochran arranges to

meet the blackmailer at the trailer park and make the payoff. Duff, however, has decided to return all the money and before the blackmailer arrives a fight breaks out between the detectives. During the struggle, Cochran shoots and wounds Duff. Jagger bursts in and kills Cochran, later revealing to

Duff that he suspected them of lifting the money all along and set them up to find out. Coauthored and coproduced by star Lupino (she and Collier Young owned Filmmakers Productions), PRIVATE HELL 36, though it contains standard plotting, develops some interesting characterizations, especially that

of Cochran's bitter and lonely detective. Unable to fall back on the love and support of a family the way his partner can, Cochran hides his desperation behind a facade of cynicism awash in booze. When he meets Lupino, Cochran is too far gone to be salvaged and he sets into motion the events that

destroy him. Unromanticized, fast-paced, and gritty, PRIVATE HELL 36 serves as an interesting precursor to director Siegel's subsequent cop films MADIGAN (1968), COOGAN'S BLUFF (1969), and DIRTY HARRY (1971). Good jazz score by Leith Stevens.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This routine good-cop-gone-bad film is lifted from the doldrums with some stunning direction by Siegel and strong performances by Lupino, Cochran, and Duff. The film opens with a violent robbery in New York City which nets $300,000 and leaves one man dead.… (more)

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