Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


HELL'S ISLAND (1955). Director: Phil Karlson.

Mike Cormack (John Payne) is a former D.A. now working as a security guard. He is hired by a man named Barzland (Francis L. Sullivan) to get back a ruby that he believes to be in the possession of Cormack's ex-wife, Janet (Mary Murphy). Janet divorced Mike so she could marry a wealthy man named Eduardo (Paul Picerni), who is now in jail for the murder of his partner. In Puerto Rosario Cormack tracks down the beautiful Janet and finds himself inveigled into helping her get her supposedly innocent husband out of a penal colony on an island. But there are other factions who still want that ruby ... Hell's Island is a brisk and absorbing crime thriller that features good performances from the cast as well as some interesting twists. Payne makes a good hero, Murphy [The Mad Magician] is delightfully duplicitous, Arnold Moss scores as her friend, Paul, who is also in love with her, and there are nice turns by Eduardo Noriega as Captain Pena and Picerni as the hapless husband. It's obvious that the hefty Sullivan [Plunder of the Sun] and skinny Walter Reed (as Lawrence) are supposed to be a variation on Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, a nice in-joke. Pepe Hern also makes an impression as the bellboy, Lalo, as does Robert Cabal as the ill-fated houseboy, Miguel. Walter Reed played Lupe Velez' husband in two "Mexican Spitfire" movies [replacing Donald Woods] and was also in Flying Disc Man from Mars.

Verdict: Zesty "B" movie with good performances -- and gators! *** out of 4.

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