Private Hell 36

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Private Hell 36
Private hell 36.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDon Siegel
Screenplay byCollier Young
Ida Lupino
Produced byCollier Young
StarringIda Lupino
Steve Cochran
Howard Duff
Dean Jagger
Dorothy Malone
CinematographyBurnett Guffey
Edited byStanford Tischler
Music byLeith Stevens
The Filmakers
Distributed byFilmakers Releasing Organization
Release date
  • September 3, 1954 (1954-09-03)
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited States

Private Hell 36 is a 1954 American crime film noir directed by Don Siegel starring Ida Lupino, Steve Cochran, Howard Duff, Dean Jagger and Dorothy Malone.[1]

The picture was one of the last feature-length efforts by Filmakers, an independent company created by producer Collier Young and his star and then-wife Ida Lupino.


L.A. police detectives Cal Bruner and Jack Farnham are partners. After a fleeing suspect is killed, they discover a box filled with money and Bruner pockets $ 80,000 over Farnham's objections. Farnham reluctantly accepts a key to a safe deposit box so that he can access his half, but he immediately becomes agitated and racked with guilt. Bruner receives a call from the dead man's partner threatening to reveal the cop's deceit unless he gets his money back. Farnham demands that they turn in the money, but Bruner says he intends to murder the blackmailer and claim self-defense. Bruner finally agrees to return the money instead, but he is actually preparing to kill his own partner. When the crook suddenly shows up Bruner wounds Farnham, but Farnham is killed by a shot from the dark. Their boss, Captain Michaels, appears and reveals that the blackmailing crook was just a ruse.



The extensive racetrack scenes in the film were shot at Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood, California. The interiors of real bars and shops were used so the actors could walk out into actual streets within the same scene.

The film starts with a pre-credit sequence before the first titles appear in an early modernist foreshadowing of the action teaser before it became commonplace on television series of the sixties. Typical of The Film[m]akers productions the last title card misspells “Made in Holl[y]wood, USA.“ Notable also as one of the early Siegel B movies on which future auteur Sam Peckinpah (credited under his first name of David) learned his craft as a dialogue director.


Film critic Bosley Crowther wrote a tepid review, "A critic might note that attention is sharply divided between the main theme and the incidental character that Miss Lupino plays. This is somewhat understandable, since Miss Lupino happens to be one of the partners in Filmakers and a coauthor of the script. But let's not worry about it. No deplorable damage is done. There's not very much here to damage. Just an average melodrama about cops."[2]


  1. ^ Private Hell 36 at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "Private Hell 36,' a Story of Policemen, Has Premiere at the Paramount", September 4, 1954. Accessed: June 23, 2013.

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