Rough, hard-nosed and thoroughly ‘British’, Hell Drivers makes a welcome return to shelves thanks to a superb Blu-Ray restoration.

A classic thriller, starring a veritable who’s who of the UK’s acting talent of the time, Hell Drivers delivered the goods in 1957 and, while appearing dated in the odd scene, still packs a fair punch today.

Leading the charge is Stanley Baker as ‘Tom’, an ex-con looking to rebuild his life by going straight – of sorts. Looking for work, Tom rocks up to a haulage firm who are on the lookout for drivers, run by the calculating and somewhat slimy Cartley (William Hartnell).

Cartley’s firm place a great emphasis on speed and delivery rates (hence the film’s title), with drivers taking more than their fair share of risks to hit quotas.

Overseeing this motley crew is ‘Red’ (Patrick McGoohan), essentially the villain of the film – and a bully to boot.

Red and Tom do not see eye to eye, and after Tom scarpers the scene of a mass brawl for fear of being sent back to prison, Red sets about destroying his rival.

There are plenty of other characters at play here – Tom’s pal Gino (Herbert Lom) and Lucy (Peggy Cummins), who they both desire, to name but two, but in essence the film bubbles along, building to a showdown between the two male leads.

Baker is excellent in a role that calls on him to be both tough guy and vulnerable – able to trade punches, one-liners or emotions with consummate ease.

The rest of the cast also hit their stride, with the aforementioned also joined by the likes of a young Sean Connery, an even younger David McCallum and a pre-Carry On Sid James.

Directed by Cy Endfield (who would reteam with Baker for the seminal Zulu some years later), Hell Drivers has considerably less ‘hell driving’ than you may think, but the film still fairly rattles along, with the trucking scenes adding to the film’s drive, rather than being the sole selling point.

Endfield’s work also looks stunning in its new incarnation, with the disc stuffed to the gills with a series of fascinating extras, including a wealth of archive promotional material from around the film’s release.

All in all, Hell Drivers is a package well worth checking out.

Blu-Ray Review: Hell Drivers
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.