Back Door to Hell (1964)

68 mins | Drama | November 1964

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HISTORY

In his book, Five Easy Decades: How Jack Nicholson Became the Biggest Movie Star in Modern Times, author Dennis MacDougal revealed that producer Robert Lippert provided Nicholson, director Monte Hellman, and screenwriter John Hackett $160,000 and salaries of $400 per week to make two films in the Philippine Islands. The team developed the screenplays while travelling by ship through Hawaii, Hong Kong, and Japan. According to the 12 Aug 1964 Var, filming took place in the Bicol Region of the Philippines. The 22 Jan 1965 DV noted that Hellman, producer Fred Roos, and credited screenwriter Richard A. Guttman were alumni of the film department at University of California, Los Angeles.
       An advertisement in the 15 Jun 1964 DV stated that principal photography was currently underway. The 7 Jul 1964 issue reported that lead actor Jimmie Rodgers agreed to appear in the film for “expense money only.” Rodgers, who was contracted to distributor Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., had already received his salary in advance, and accepted the role in order to both fulfill and sustain his contract.
       Back Door to Hell opened 9 Dec 1964 in New York City and in late Jan 1965 in Los Angeles, CA. Although a review in the 10 Dec 1964 NYT dismissed the film as “a clinker,” the 27 Jan 1965 Var reported earnings of $34,000 during its opening week in Los Angeles as part of a double bill with Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, see entry).
       The picture continued in release through the summer of 1965 with openings in Seattle, WA ... More Less

In his book, Five Easy Decades: How Jack Nicholson Became the Biggest Movie Star in Modern Times, author Dennis MacDougal revealed that producer Robert Lippert provided Nicholson, director Monte Hellman, and screenwriter John Hackett $160,000 and salaries of $400 per week to make two films in the Philippine Islands. The team developed the screenplays while travelling by ship through Hawaii, Hong Kong, and Japan. According to the 12 Aug 1964 Var, filming took place in the Bicol Region of the Philippines. The 22 Jan 1965 DV noted that Hellman, producer Fred Roos, and credited screenwriter Richard A. Guttman were alumni of the film department at University of California, Los Angeles.
       An advertisement in the 15 Jun 1964 DV stated that principal photography was currently underway. The 7 Jul 1964 issue reported that lead actor Jimmie Rodgers agreed to appear in the film for “expense money only.” Rodgers, who was contracted to distributor Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., had already received his salary in advance, and accepted the role in order to both fulfill and sustain his contract.
       Back Door to Hell opened 9 Dec 1964 in New York City and in late Jan 1965 in Los Angeles, CA. Although a review in the 10 Dec 1964 NYT dismissed the film as “a clinker,” the 27 Jan 1965 Var reported earnings of $34,000 during its opening week in Los Angeles as part of a double bill with Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, see entry).
       The picture continued in release through the summer of 1965 with openings in Seattle, WA (3 Feb 1965 Var), Cincinnati, OH (5 May 1965 Var), and Buffalo, NY (18 Aug 1965 Var).
       Copyright length: 70 minutes More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Jan 1965
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jan 1965
Section C, p. 6.
New York Times
9 Dec 1964
p. 54.
New York Times
10 Dec 1964
p. 61.
Variety
12 Aug 1964
p. 4.
Variety
27 Jan 1965
p. 9.
Variety
3 Feb 1965
p. 8.
Variety
5 May 1965
p. 8.
Variety
18 Aug 1965
p. 8.
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1964
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 December 1964
Los Angeles opening: late January 1965
Production Date:
summer 1964
Copyright Claimant:
Lippert, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 November 1964
Copyright Number:
LP29823
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
68
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In World War II, before the Allied reoccupation of the Philippines, U.S. Lieutenant Craig and two other men, Burnett and Jersey, penetrate the enemy occupation to determine the strength and position of the Japanese forces. They contact Paco, a guerrilla leader who agrees to help them, but the Japanese detect their presence and threaten to destroy a village unless the Americans surrender. Paco and his men, however, are able to capture the village. Craig then meets a local bandit who promises him information about the Japanese in exchange for his radio, but when Craig is delayed while checking the information, the impatient bandit destroys the radio and runs off. Unable to transmit his intelligence, Craig sneaks into a Japanese-held village and sends his message by enemy radio, but he and his men are apprehended. The Americans, with Paco and his guerrillas, battle with the Japanese; and Burnett, Paco, and all his men are killed. Only Craig and Jersey ... +


In World War II, before the Allied reoccupation of the Philippines, U.S. Lieutenant Craig and two other men, Burnett and Jersey, penetrate the enemy occupation to determine the strength and position of the Japanese forces. They contact Paco, a guerrilla leader who agrees to help them, but the Japanese detect their presence and threaten to destroy a village unless the Americans surrender. Paco and his men, however, are able to capture the village. Craig then meets a local bandit who promises him information about the Japanese in exchange for his radio, but when Craig is delayed while checking the information, the impatient bandit destroys the radio and runs off. Unable to transmit his intelligence, Craig sneaks into a Japanese-held village and sends his message by enemy radio, but he and his men are apprehended. The Americans, with Paco and his guerrillas, battle with the Japanese; and Burnett, Paco, and all his men are killed. Only Craig and Jersey escape. +

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.