Inferno (1953 film)

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This article is about the 1953 film. For other uses, see Inferno.
Inferno (1953 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Produced by William Bloom
Screenplay by Francis M. Cockrell
Starring Robert Ryan
Rhonda Fleming
William Lundigan
Music by Paul Sawtell
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited by Robert L. Simpson
Distributed by 20th Century-Fox
Release dates
  • August 12, 1953 (1953-08-12) (United States)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,055,000[1]

Inferno is a 1953 American film noir drama/thriller starring Robert Ryan and Rhonda Fleming, directed by Roy Ward Baker. It was shot in Technicolor and shown in 3-D Dimension and stereophonic sound on prints for the few theaters equipped for that sound system in 1953.[2]


The drama tells the story of spoiled and alcoholic millionaire Carson (Robert Ryan). During a trip to the Mojave Desert Carson breaks his leg after falling off his horse and is abandoned and left to die by Geraldine (Rhonda Fleming), his adulterous femme fatale wife, and his deceitful business partner Joseph Duncan (William Lundigan).

After the accident, Geraldine and Duncan supposedly drive off to seek medical aid for Carson. But, when Carson realizes the truth of his predicament, he vows to live long enough to exact revenge against his wife and partner.


  • Robert Ryan as Donald Whitley Carson III
  • Rhonda Fleming as Geraldine Carson
  • William Lundigan as Joseph Duncan
  • Larry Keating as Dave Emory
  • Henry Hull as Sam Elby
  • Carl Betz as Lt. Mike Platt
  • Robert Burton as Sheriff
  • Robert Adler as Ken, Ranch Hand
  • Harry Carter as Deputy Fred Parks
  • Everett Glass as Mason, Carson's Butler
  • Adrienne Marden as Emory's Secretary
  • Barbara Pepper as Waitress
  • Charles Tannen as voice of police radio broadcaster
  • Dan White as Lee, Ranch Hand


Inferno is 20th Century Fox's first, yet belated, foray into the world of 3-D film, a prevalent cinema fad in the 1950s.[3]

Inferno was remade for television in 1973 as Ordeal, with Arthur Hill in the Robert Ryan part and Diana Muldaur and James Stacy as his would-be murderers.[4]


Revival screenings[edit]

On February 1, 2013, Inferno was shown in digital 3-D in a double feature with Man in the Dark (1953) in the Noir City Film Festival at the Castro Theater in San Francisco.[5]

Inferno has been made available on Hulu in anaglyph 3D (not its native format).

Critical response[edit]

When the film was released, The New York Times gave the film a positive review and lauded the direction of the picture and the acting, writing, "[A]s fragmentary realism the picture rings true and persuasive. Mr. Ryan's portrayal of the gritty, determined protagonist is, of course, a natural. Miss Fleming, one of Hollywood's coolest, prettiest villainesses, knows how to handle literate dialogue, which, in this case, she shares."[6]

In a positive review, Time Out Film Guide called the film, "A tight and involving essay in suspense which works on the ingenious idea of leaving the audience alone in the desert with an unsympathetic and selfish character," and noted the finer aspects of the 3-Dimension film, writing, "Inferno was one of the best and last movies to be made in 3-D during the boom in the early '50s. Certainly its use of space emphasized the dramatic possibilities of 3-D and reveals, as more than one person has observed, that the device had largely been squandered in other films made at the time."[7]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz liked the film and wrote, "Inferno loses something when not seen in 3-D as intended when released, nevertheless it remains as a taut survival thriller. It makes good use of 3-D, in fact it does it better than most other such gimmicky films...The desert photography by Lucien Ballard is stunning.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p248
  2. ^ Inferno at the Internet Movie Database.
  3. ^ World 3-D Film Expo II web site, September 13, 2006. Last accessed: December 12, 2007.
  4. ^ Ordeal (1973 television film) at the Internet Movie Database.
  5. ^ Noir City film festival website
  6. ^ The New York Times. Film review, August 12, 1953. Last accessed: December 12, 2007.
  7. ^ Time Out Film Guide. Time Out-New York, film review, 2006. Last accessed: December 12, 2007.
  8. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, November 14, 2005. Last access: December 1, 2009.

External links[edit]