Hell Bound (1957)

69 or 71 mins | Drama | October 1957

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HISTORY

This film's working titles were Cargo X and Dope Ship . According to a Mar 1957 HR news item, the studio chose the title Dope Ship for the film, despite news that the Johnston Office rejected the word "dope" being used in an ad for a different film, Columbia's Pickup Alley (See Entry). However, a Jun 1957 HR news item stated that exhibitor protests forced executive producer Audrey Schenck and producer Howard W. Koch to change the film's name from Dope Ship to Cargo X , before finally releasing it as Hell Bound .
       Although the film's copyright registration lists a running time of 79 minutes, contemporary trade reviews list 69 minutes. The print viewed ran 71 minutes. The audience is unaware that the initial depiction of the robbery is a film within Hell Bound until it ends after almost 8 minutes with "Jordan" mailing the package. Several sequences were filmed at San Pedro and Wilmington in Los Angeles' harbor area. Hell Bound marked the feature film directorial debut of character actor William J. Hole, Jr. Although his appearance in the film has not been confirmed, an 18 Mar 1957 HR news item adds Joel Ashley to the ... More Less

This film's working titles were Cargo X and Dope Ship . According to a Mar 1957 HR news item, the studio chose the title Dope Ship for the film, despite news that the Johnston Office rejected the word "dope" being used in an ad for a different film, Columbia's Pickup Alley (See Entry). However, a Jun 1957 HR news item stated that exhibitor protests forced executive producer Audrey Schenck and producer Howard W. Koch to change the film's name from Dope Ship to Cargo X , before finally releasing it as Hell Bound .
       Although the film's copyright registration lists a running time of 79 minutes, contemporary trade reviews list 69 minutes. The print viewed ran 71 minutes. The audience is unaware that the initial depiction of the robbery is a film within Hell Bound until it ends after almost 8 minutes with "Jordan" mailing the package. Several sequences were filmed at San Pedro and Wilmington in Los Angeles' harbor area. Hell Bound marked the feature film directorial debut of character actor William J. Hole, Jr. Although his appearance in the film has not been confirmed, an 18 Mar 1957 HR news item adds Joel Ashley to the cast. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Oct 1957.
---
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1957
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 Oct 1957
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 1957
p. 25.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1957
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 1957
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1957
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 1957
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 1957
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Nov 1957
p. 626.
Variety
2 Oct 1957
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Bel-Air Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Op cam
Key grip
Lighting tech
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
Photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Cargo X
Dope Ship
Release Date:
October 1957
Production Date:
ended 20 March 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Clark Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 October 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9398
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.75:1
Duration(in mins):
69 or 71
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18609
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At sea, a freighter, traveling from the Far East to Los Angeles, picks up the sole survivor of the sinking of a small fishing boat. As the ship nears the California coast, a health officer comes on board for a quarantine inspection. The official is diabetic, and when he takes ill, he is invited to rest on board until the ship docks. Meanwhile, the rescued “fisherman” locates a package of war surplus narcotics being returned to the U.S. in a special container in the ship's hold. The health officer deliberately injects himself with an overdose of insulin, rendering himself unconscious, prompting the captain to send a message to have an ambulance meet the ship when it docks. The fisherman, actually an accomplice of the health officer in a plot to steal the narcotics, places the package in the health officer’s jacket so that it leaves the ship with him. When the ship docks, another accomplice, a nurse working for the ambulance service, takes possession of the package, worth $250,000, as the ambulance speeds to the hospital. She passes the package on to a man named Jordan who then mails it to a drug dealer. Jordan, who has made a film enactment of this proposed robbery, screens it for gangster Harry Quantro and his associates in order to secure financial backing for the actual heist. Quantro agrees to provide funding, but his girl friend Paula insists that she pose as the nurse, a role intended for Jordan’s girl friend Jan, in order to protect Quantro’s investment. When Jan and Paula meet, Jan, who is not happy with Paula’s involvement, explains that Eddie Mason, the ambulance’s driver, is not in on ... +


At sea, a freighter, traveling from the Far East to Los Angeles, picks up the sole survivor of the sinking of a small fishing boat. As the ship nears the California coast, a health officer comes on board for a quarantine inspection. The official is diabetic, and when he takes ill, he is invited to rest on board until the ship docks. Meanwhile, the rescued “fisherman” locates a package of war surplus narcotics being returned to the U.S. in a special container in the ship's hold. The health officer deliberately injects himself with an overdose of insulin, rendering himself unconscious, prompting the captain to send a message to have an ambulance meet the ship when it docks. The fisherman, actually an accomplice of the health officer in a plot to steal the narcotics, places the package in the health officer’s jacket so that it leaves the ship with him. When the ship docks, another accomplice, a nurse working for the ambulance service, takes possession of the package, worth $250,000, as the ambulance speeds to the hospital. She passes the package on to a man named Jordan who then mails it to a drug dealer. Jordan, who has made a film enactment of this proposed robbery, screens it for gangster Harry Quantro and his associates in order to secure financial backing for the actual heist. Quantro agrees to provide funding, but his girl friend Paula insists that she pose as the nurse, a role intended for Jordan’s girl friend Jan, in order to protect Quantro’s investment. When Jan and Paula meet, Jan, who is not happy with Paula’s involvement, explains that Eddie Mason, the ambulance’s driver, is not in on the scheme and that Paula must be careful when she takes her place. Later, after a seaman delivers a map of the actual ship’s hold along with a key to the narcotics storage compartment, Jordan runs him over with his car, killing him. Posing as a replacement for the vacationing Jan, Paula begins to realize how unprepared she is for her role when a young child, the victim of an automobile accident, dies in the ambulance. Jordan, meanwhile, hires port health officer Herbert Fay, Jr., who is an overweight diabetic eager to retire and travel, to participate in the robbery. Jordan then blackmails Stanley Thomas, a recovering drug addict and former medical student who caused a girl’s death during an illegal operation, to pose as the fisherman. However, Thomas, upset by his confrontation with Jordan, reverts to drug use. During a routine health examination, Fay’s doctor advises him that he is taking him off insulin for a week and warns him that taking any might induce a heart attack. Paula soon finds herself falling in love with Eddie, who returns her feelings. After Jordan informs Paula of the ship’s docking date and gives Thomas, who has learned the ship's layout from the map, the key to the area containing the drugs, Paula tries to tell Eddie about her involvement in the impending crime. When Jordan finds out about her relationship with Eddie, Paula informs him she will not take part in the robbery, prompting Jordan to stab her and leave her for dead. Although Jan is suspicious about Paula's disappearance, she agrees to resume her original role and replace Paula. On the morning of the robbery, when Jan suddenly returns, Eddie is worried about Paula and tries to reach her. Meanwhile, Thomas has already been “rescued,” but is desperately in need of a fix. After Fay feigns a dizzy spell, the captain invites him to stay on board and arranges for an ambulance to meet the boat. The scheme unravels disastrously, however, when Thomas goes berserk and Fay dies after injecting the insulin. When Eddie and Jan arrive in the ambulance at dockside, they find Fay’s dead body being carried down the gangplank and Thomas in custody. A police officer hands Eddie a phone number to call and he connects with a hospitalized Paula who has informed the police about the robbery. The police arrest Jan who then points to Jordan as he lurks nearby. The police chase Jordan from the docks into a scrap metal yard, which serves as a graveyard for outmoded streetcars. Jordan hides in a railroad freight car, but is killed when an electro-magnetic crane dumps a load of junk on top of him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.