Hell Is A City File
This page is dedicated to a film that has a Levenshulme connection. (see the TV & Cinema page) Hell Is A City was filmed in Manchester in 1959, and released in 1960. The above images are from the cover of the novel, published in the USA as "Murder Somewhere In This City". The poster is from the American release of the film in 1960. and gives the impression of a North American city, rather than" grimy old Manchester". I have some Stills/Lobby cards for this film, which I will eventually post on this page. I would really be interested to see some photographs taken by bystanders at the various locations in and around Manchester, especially in Levenshulme. In December 2007 I visited Manchester for Christmas, and while I was there I visited Levenshulme to do some matching of the Errwood House location. I also took some photos in Manchester to match up to the robbery scene in "Higgits Passage". Since returning home I have been able to do quite a lot of research on the film locations. I am beginning to feel that this is becoming a bit of an obsession, but it is a lot of fun!! If anyone who reads this page has more information on the locations, or photos taken at the time I would be most grateful. The films story was serialized in the "Manchester Evening News" in 1960. I would like to get hold of these items if possible. I think they may also have contained film stills. The MEN probably also ran news items on the making of this film, as it was quite the story at the time.
STOP PRESS:- It has recently come to my attention, July 2013, that a book has been published documenting in detail the various locations used in films produced by Hammer Films. The authors of the book , Hammer Films On Location, are Wayne Kinsey & Gordon Thomson. The book is published by Peveril Publishing and can only be purchased directly from them. Among the film locations covered are those for "Hell Is A City". They have included and acknowledged my website within their coverage of the various locations for "Hell Is A City", and include a very informative walking tour of the locations within the City of Manchester. One fact to emerge from their research is that the principal location photography took place between 21st September and 5th November 1959!
This is the cover of the book, "Hammer Films On Location".
Original British paperback edition of "Hell Is A City" Could that be Manchester Town Hall In the background?
The book "Hell Is A City" was written by Maurice Procter, who may have been a policeman in Manchester at some time! The book was originally published in 1954. The title, apparently, comes from a quotation by Shelley ....." Hell is a city much like London-a populous and smoky city." This fits Manchester to a Tee!! The city in the book is called Granchester, but the film rightly features Manchester. Update: I have just discovered that the author of " Hell Is A City", Maurice Procter, wrote a whole series of "Chief Inspector Martineau Investigates" stories. I do not believe any of them were made into films! See below autobiography of Maurice Proctor
Book Cover Plagiarism!!
I have recently, August 2009, found this book cover on the web. Note the similarity to the above cover! Also note the author and the two titles "Mutant Chronicles" and "Savage World" Also note the name of the author D L Parker, and the addition of a blimp or spacecraft in the sky!! What is this all about? I have done a little research and it seems this may be part of some recent role playing game or games. If anyone can shed more light on this I would be most grateful.
Yet another book cover for " Hell Is A City". This copy must have been contemporary to the film release as it gives a nod to the film on the cover. Also the characters on the cover are kind of stylized American pulp fiction artwork versions of John Crawford and Billie Whitelaw. Update:- As you can see in the second image, the book cover illustration was taken from this posed studio shot. The image was found on Ebay by David Newman. Incredible!!
This studio pose is in fact an exact match to the above book cover. (Image via the internet)
Maurice Proctor, Author, 1906-1973
This is the only photo that I have been able to find of Maurice Procter, the author of Hell Is A City.
Maurice Procter Biography
Maurice Procter was born in Nelson, Lancashire, on the 4th February 1906. He was the son of Rose Hannah and William Procter. He had two brothers, Emmot and Ned. He grew up in Charles Street, Nelson and went to Nelson Grammar School until he was 15 when he ran away to join the army. His parents lobbied their MP to obtain his release and he was told to try again when he was older. He then worked in a variety of jobs, including a time as a weaver in a cotton mill.
He left Nelson in 1927 to become a constable in Halifax, Yorkshire. At that time a policeman could not serve in his home town. He was based at Kin Cross, and stayed at the police station when he first arrived. Later he lodged with Isabella and Arthur Edwin Blakey at 24 Cromwell Street, Halifax. Isabella had been a cook at Heathfield House, Rishworth and Arthur Edwin was an electrician. They had three daughters, Phyllis, Eve, and Winifred. In 1933 Maurice married Winifred, the youngest sister, at Saint Mary's Church, Lister Lane, and they went to live at 20 Willowfield Road, Halifax.
He was transferred from Halifax to Mixenden. During World War 11 the family lived at the Police House in Mixenden Village. He served in Mixenden for 5 years, often walking 16 miles a day. They had one child, a boy called Noel. Procter served in the Halifax area for 19 years. He remained a constable, and part of the time he was posted to motor cycle patrol. He was involved in the investigation of the Halifax Slasher in 1938.
He was attracted to the idea of earning his living as a writer. He began writing and his first book was published in 1947. This was titled " No Proud Chivalry". He left the police in 1947. When writing he worked at a small study in his home in Halifax, and during the summer months in Spain and Gibraltar. In later life he enjoyed reading, gardening, playing cards, motor cycling and generally socialising.
The cover of Maurice Procter's first book 1947
In 1959, the year of the filming of Hell Is A City, Maurice Proctor suffered a heart attack, but recovered and continued writing. Ill health dogged his latter years. He preferred to remain close to his family and friends in Yorkshire than to retire to the warmth and sunshine. He died in Halifax Infirmary in 1973.His last book published in 1969 was "The Dog Man". His son Noel remembers his father as a man with no malice, fair and a great raconteur.
His Writing and Films made from his books.
Procter turned to writing around 1946, and produced several novels. Most of them novels with much detail about police methodology. He was an intelligent and knowledgeable writer. He was attentive to to details, such as blowing a safe, or performing a post mortem. The authenticity of the policeman and the criminal arises from his own experiences. The novels are mostly set in the North of England. Apparently, six of his books, including " Hell Is A City" and " Rich Is The Treasure" were filmed. IMDB ( International Movie Data Base) only lists 4 movies or teleplays made from his books! These are as follows:- 1954- " Rich Is The Treasure", 1960 " Hell Is A City", 1963 "No Hiding Place" episode " Hot Ice" (listed as writer) not found on IMDB, 1981 "Two Men In Twenty" ( German TV teleplay) "Zwei Van Zwanzig" Interestingly this last TV play featured the character of Chief Inspector Martineau!!
His regular Characters include: Chief Inspector Philip Hunter of New Scotland Yard, London-at 32, he was probably the youngest Chief Inspector at New Scotland Yard! Detective Chief Inspector Henry Martineau of Granchester, Yorkshire. Detective Bill Knight of Airechester, Yorkshire. Granchester and Airechester are fictional names.
Procter's work is commemorated at the Howard B Gotlieb Archival Research Centre at Boston University, Massachusetts. USA. His original drafts and manuscripts are available for inspection there.
Maurice Procter wrote 15 novels featuring the character of Detective Chief Inspector Martineau. They are as follows:-
!) Hell Is A City (1954). Filmed 1959, released 1960. Published in the USA as "Murder, Somewhere In This City" *
2) The Midnight Plumber (1957) *
3) Man In The Ambush (1958)
4) Killer At Large (1959)
5) Devil's Due (1960)
6) The Devil Was Handsome (1961) *
7) A Body To Spare (1962)
8) Moonlight Flitting (1963)
9) Two Men In Twenty (1964) Filmed for German TV in 1981 as "Zwei Van Zwanzig
10) Death Has A Shadow ( 1965)
11) His Weight In Gold (1965)
12) Rogue Running (1966)
13) Exercise Hoodwink (1967) *
14) Hideaway (1968) *
15) The Dog Man *
* I have read these titles
The two scans above are from the American " First Edition" hardback version of " Somewhere In The City". I suspect that the novels name was changed because there was already a book entitled " Hell Is A City" in print in the USA. It Is Interesting to note that the "malachite green" finger staining is a prominent feature of the books artwork. ( Scans via David Newman)
Book cover artwork from some of the Inspector Martineau novels The last cover is a curiosity as the title reads "Hell Is A City" in Dutch, but the author is William Ard! Did Maurice Procter use a pseudonym?
Maurice Procters Other Titles
These are the other books written between 1947 and 1969.
!) No Proud Chivalry ( 1947)
2) Each Mans Destiny (1947)
3) The End Of The Street (1949)
4) The Chief Inspectors Statement (!951)
5) Hurry The Darkness (1952)
6) Rich Is The Treasure (1952) Filmed in 1954.
7) The Pub Crawler (1956)
8) I Will Speak Daggers (1956)
9) Three At The Angel (1958)
10) The Spearhead Death (1960)
11) Devil In The Moonlight ( 1962)
Book cover artwork from some of Maurice Proctors other novels. The Rippers Murders is an American re-titling of " I Will Speak Daggers".
The film "Hell Is A City" has grown in stature over the years and has now been given the accolade of being a " film noir" in the tradition of films like " The Maltese Falcon" and " Double Indemnity". To learn more about this and the "Film noir" genre read the " Rough Guide to Film Noir" by Alexander Ballinger & Danny Graydon. Published by Rough Guides in 2007. www.roughguides.com
Hell Is A City, Manchester Premiere, Apollo Cinema, Ardwick Green, April 1960
Another book called " Hell Is A City"!!
I found this image while browsing the internet. It looks like it is from the same period!! Maybe this is why the book title was changed in the USA!
UK Onscreen. A Film location website
I have just come across UK Onscreen a film location website operated by Paul Plowman. This site contains a page dedicated to "Hell Is A City" locations. The link is as follows:-http://www.ukonscreen.com
The link to the "Hell Is A City" page is:-http://www.ukonscreen.com/films.php?bbkegbb
A scanned image of the opening credit title of the film "Hell Is A City"
Errwood House. "The Location"
Two Photographs taken January 2004 by Andrew Barber showing Errwood House, the Levenshulme location for Hell Is A City. Little has changed since 1959, although Andrew states that the house is currently under renovation. Does anyone have any history for this very imposing Levenshulme residence?
This photograph has been lifted off the Hell Is A City DVD. Although it is a rather fuzzy image it shows the fake street sign Rusholme Drive, fixed on the Errwood Road corner of Errwood House by the film company. Compare with the above photographs.
This nighttime scene shows actress Billie Whitelaw entering the gates of Errwood House. A scanned image from the film.
Another view of Errwood House, March 2004. In the film the Billie Whitelaw character gets out of her "boyfriends" sports car, and walks around this corner to the house. I watched that scene being filmed. ( Photo Carole Daniels).
John Crawford and Billie Whitelaw in the studio interior set of the Errwood House location. Note how well they copied the very unique front doors. The doors on the real house still exist!!
This is an interesting photo of Val Guest rehearsing John Crawford and Billie Whitelaw on the studio set of " Errwood House". ( Brighton Film Festival 2007 via David Newman)
Another studio shot similar to the previous one, but taken from a higher angle. Interesting to see all the technicians involved, and Val Guest's very "hands on" interaction with Billie Whitelaw!! Is the seated man in the check shirt providing "mood music"??
A British still showing Donald Pleasence and Billie Whitelaw in the" Errwood House" set. I wonder if the real house had/has a pull down ladder and "starlings" in the loft! (via Ebay)
This is another studio interior still set at Errwood House. A rare colour still. Stanley Baker & Billie Whitelaw ( Via Claire Gonzales)
This appears to be a staged shot on the Errwood House studio set. The image of Billie Whitelaw legs astride appears on some of the posters and video packaging!!
Errwood House. Daytime Scenes
The following sequence of scanned images shows Stanley Baker arriving at Errwood House to question the Billie Whitelaw character.
Looking South from Errwood House. Errwood Crescent, Errwood Road & Errwood Park in the background.
Stanley Baker arriving at Errwood House.
A pretty close comparison. December 2007.
Stanley Baker steps out. He looks a bit like " The Man From The Pru" !!
Not exactly Stanley Baker. Me, George Nixon, standing in approximately the same spot. Errwood Crescent in the background. December 2007
Errwood Crescent, Errwood Road and the Park in the mid fifties. Note the telephone box, busstop sign and old street lamps. Also how bushy The Crescent was! ( photo via Brian Carter)
Errwood House, December 2007. Compare to the above film still. Little has changed since 1959. I rang the door bell, but did not get a response.
Stanley Baker as Inspector Harry Martineau at the door of Errwood House.
The same doorway December 2007.
The same doorway, July 2012. Standing in for Stanley Baker.
Another film still showing the door at the Errwood House location. (via Ebay)
This is a very interesting photo, which I found on E-bay. This shows Billie Whitelaw and Val Guest relaxing. I would guess by the bushes and foliage in the background that this photo was taken at the " Errwood House" location in Levenshulme.
In July 2012, while on a visit to Manchester from my home in Canada, I revisited the "Errwood House" location and met the current owners of the house, Roy & Maggie Donnelly. They very kindly allowed me to enter their home and obtain a number of comparison photos for this web page. One thing that was immediately obvious was that the film set makers had used elements of the interior for the studio built set. The wall paneling in particular! I have included these interior photos below.
Inside the doorway. Very different from the film set.
The living/front room. Much smaller than the film set. But note the paneling!
The interior staircase, again differently located to the film set but a similar configuration. Also note paneling in the hallway.
Maggie Donnelly, in the hallway of Errwood House.
Roy Donnelly, the current owner of Errwood House. Roy told me that the house was built before the First World War, and had been used in an episode of "Coronation Street" and a TV gardening make-over show, as well as in the film "Hell Is A City". Roy also produced a newspaper clipping of my article in the "South Manchester Reporter" ( All photos taken with the kind permission of Roy And Maggie Donnelly)
Another candid on location shot of Stanley Baker and Val Guest, possibly taken in Levenshulme. ( Via Ebay)
More Hell Is A City images.
The following images were found on the internet and are probably scanned from the DVD. Apologies for the poor quality!!
Stanley Baker & Vanda Godsell.
John Crawford as villain Don Starling. Crawford, an American actor, plays the role of a Manchester gangster! In the original book the character of Don Starling is supposed to be a childhood friend of Inspector Martineau, who took the path of crime! There is no explanation for the American accent in the film! American actors were often used in British films to make them acceptable to American audiences in the 1950s. A perfect example of this is the original version of " Night And The City" in which the three lead roles are played by American actors, in what is essentially a British based film.
The robbery and kidnapping scene, filmed in an alley off Corporation Street Now identified as Cromford Court.( See Buick below)
Manchester skyline shot from the film.
The rooftop chase sequence, this looks like Stanley Baker.
This is an interesting still from the rooftop chase sequence. In the background can be seen the new, in 1959, Oxford Road railway station under construction. Obviously not yet in use, the old station building is shown at the side.
Hell Is A City, The 1938 Buick
The villains getaway car in the film was a 1938 Buick. This movie still shows the car with Manchester Exchange Station in the background. Note the tower at Strangeways Prison in the far distance. Anyone know the fate of ELH 403? Does it still exist? Was it a local vehicle? Large pre-war American cars were not common on the streets of Manchester in the 1950's!
This is very strange! I was recently doing a mobile patrol outside the casino that I work at in Edmonton, Canada. I am a security officer there!! As I passed by this old car, I had a deja-vu moment! There was an exact copy of the 1938 Buick, the getaway car from " Hell Is A City". I did not have a camera handy so I persuaded a colleague to take some shots.
December 2007. The above three comparison photos were taken on the exact location of the above Buick film still. Exchange Station is now long gone, but the station approach and railings still exist. Also note the tower of Strangeways Prison in the background. This location is right beside Manchester Cathedrals main doorway.
Another still showing the 1938 Buick in the vicinity of Corporation Street, just prior to the crime scene. ( Both photos via www.PreWarBuick.com) Update: This scene was actually shot on Cannon Street at the intersection with New Brown Street. We are looking north towards Corporation Street. The couple are heading south. The corner with the billboard is New Brown Street, on the east side of Cannon Street.
This could be in the vicinity of the above film still. So much has changed in this area. The new extension to the Arndale Centre has swept away any trace of the original buildings. The old Corn Exchange, now called The Triangle, is on the left of this photo. December 2007.Update: This is actually more in the vicinity of Seftons Pub, Higgits Passage location
On Location. Furnisher Steeles Shop Update:- This location has now been identified as looking towards Central Station( G-Mex) from Albion Street, looking north at the junction with Whitworth Street West. The lattice section of the bridge is no longer there, having been replaced to allow taller lorries to pass underneath. The original supports remain in place. The shops are no longer there having been replaced with modern apartments. Under the arch you can see the roof of Central Station and two large buildings. The nearest building is the former Hacienda Club now modern apartments. Next door is a listed warehouse building. (Information via Lee Hopkins)
An image from the film, I believe that the location is on, or near Oxford Road.
This is the exact location of Furnisher Steeles store. Photo taken in the 1970s The road is Albion Street near the junction of Little Peter Street ( Manchester Librairies)
This is the same location in 2009. It would appear that the railway bridge has been upgraded at some time since the 1970s. Also the building used as "Furnisher Steeles" shop has been demolished and replaced with a new building. ( Photo via UKonscreen).
Same location, north of the railway bridge, in 2008
This is another screen capture from the same location. Martineau and Devrey make there way through the crowd.
The same location. I am now not so sure about Oxford Road. The bridge is too low, and note the railway station in the background of the first shot. Any guesses?? Update: See above. The location is Albion Street.
British still showing the studio interior of "Furnisher Steeles" warehouse loft. John Crawford and Sarah Branch. ( Via Ebay)
The buildings in the background of the above film still. G-Mex to the left.UpDate: It would appear that the Lattice work railway bridge no longer exists. The location of Furnisher Steeles shop was on Albion Street, with Hewitt Street Running down one side and Little Peter Street Running down the other. The railway bridge carried the railway line between Knott Mill Station, Deansgate and Oxford Road Station. The red building was also the location of the infamous "Hacienda" Club, where many local bands had their first taste of fame!1
On Location. East Didsbury, 1959
The following photographs were taken by the late Edward Newman. The location is outside The Gateway public house on Kingsway, East Didsbury. Edward Newman lived opposite the location , and had the foresight to take these excellent location photographs. The curious part of this is that , to my knowledge, there are no images of this location shooting in the film! It is quite normal for film companies to shoot far more footage than is needed for the "final cut" of the film, and much of this excess footage is simply discarded during the editing process. It would be interesting to know where the East Didsbury footage would have appeared in the film! Correction!! This sequence does appear in the film! David Newman drew my attention to a very short sequence about 20 minutes into the film which shows exactly the scenes filmed at East Didsbury.
(1)East Didsbury looking North on Kingsway, towards the old bus depot. (2) Stanley Baker, Inspector Harry Martineau, signing an autograph for a young fan in the car park of The Gateway.
(3) & (4) Filming on the corner of Kingsway & the road to Cheadle. Note the clapperboard in first photo & megaphone in second photograph. Stanley Baker is seated in the car, which I think is a Wolseley. Note leaves on the road which makes this probably September/October 1959, although it must have been warm judging by the attire of some crew members! The director Val Guest may be the man in spectacles on the right of the first photograph! I have enlarged this portion of photograph below. ( photos by Edward Newman via his son David Newman).
This scanned image from the film shows the above scene as it appears in the film.
This photo taken in 1959 shows the actual corner where the above location shots were filmed. ( Manchester Libraries)
This is the same corner in East Didsbury, April 2008. Time moves on!! ( Image via Paul Plowman)
Val Guest. The director of " Hell Is A City"
Is this Val Guest, the director of " Hell Is A City"? I found this publicity photo of Val Guest on a film web site. The highlight of Val guests directing career was " The Day The Earth Caught Fire" (1961). His last, and least, film was the Cannon & Ball comedy flop " The Boys in Blue" ( 1982). A sad end to a noted film directing career. Val guest is now 93, and he recently provided the commentary for the DVD release of " Hell Is A City".
Val Guest & wife actress Yolande Donlan taken in the 1950s. They are still married & live California USA.
Val Guest, aged 94, at a special screening of " Hell Is A City" at The British Film Institute on 5th December 2005.
Update: Val Guest died on 10th May 2006 in Palm Springs, USA.
On Location "Higgits Passage" ( The Crime Scene)
Some time ago, a correspondent Mike Winson, inquired about where the location of the crime scene in Hell Is A City was filmed. I knew that it was filmed in an alley off Corporation Street. In the film the location is identified as "Higgits Passage" which I think was the name used in the book. I have recently discovered that the passage was located next to Seftons Hotel on Corporation Street. I now believe that the passage was called Cromford Court. The area has long since disappeared, having been part of the redevelopment in the 1970s for the Arndale Centre. Interestingly the name Cromford Court still exists within the Arndale Centre. The name Cromford Court probably derives from a spinning mill built in this vicinity during the 18th Century by Richard Arkwright. He built his first mill in Cromford, Derbyshire. Interesting stuff this detective work! Inspector Martineau would be proud of me!!
This video capture, via Mike Winson, shows Detective Constable Frank Prendergast dusting the hold up vehicle for fingerprints. DC Prendegast was a "real life" policeman based at Ancoats. Several real police officers were used in this film. with the complete co-operation of the Manchester City Police. In the background is Corporation Street. The sign in the background is where the new Marks and Spencer was built. That building was destroyed during the IRA Manchester bombing in 1996, and has now been rebuilt again. Seftons Hotel and " Higgits Passage" signs on the wall to the right.
A very nice comparison photo of the robbers van approaching Higgits Passage, heading west on Corporation Street. How times change! The same angle in 2008. The Manchester " Eye" big wheel and The Corn Exchange/ The Triangle in the background. ( Courtesy of ukonscreen.com)
This video capture shows the corner with the "Higgits Passage" sign.
Martineau arrives at " Higgits Passage". Looking East on Corporation Street.
A similar view in the 1970s. Probably the start of the Arndale building period. This is the area known now as the Triangle. The Corn Exchange is in the background. The second photo shows the opposite view showing where Seftons Hotel was located, Piccadilly Plaza in the background. This area is now all the Arndale Centre. ( Photos via Manchester Libraries)
The above photo shows Seftons Hotel in the late 1960s, the alley film location to the right. You can just make out the building jutting out from the side of Seftons, which is very prominent in the actual robbery scene. See Below ( Photo. Manchester Libraries).
A further 1960s view of Seftons Hotel. ( photo via Star & Garter Forum)
Higgits Passage robbery scene. I found the photo next to it on the Manchester Librairies site. It is titled Cromford Court, Corporation Street 1944. It shows a similar little jutting out building. Could this be "Higgits Passage" It looks right although the buildings in the background look too far away!!
Another great photo of Cromford Court. This was probably taken in the late 1950s, so is contemporary to the film. Seftons in the background, Cromford Court signs on the walls, and the jutting out building, which sells " Surgical Supplies" I love the ubiquitous split windscreen Morris 1000 van!!
On Location. " The Lacy Arms"
While researching the "Higgits Passage" location I came across a Manchester site called " The Star and Garter Forum" This is dedicated to a pub called the " Star And Garter" located on Fairfield Street. There was some discussion on whether the pub was used as the location for the " Lacy Arms" in " Hell Is A City". With some detective work on the part of a forum correspondent it turns out the exterior location of the " Lacy Arms" was actually " The Fatted Calf" in of all places Cromford Court! The interiors of the " Lacy Arms" may have been filmed in " The Star And Garter". Val Guest in the commentary states that the pub interior was an actual location!
This video capture shows Stanley Baker (Martineau) outside the Lacy Arms.
A Photo of the " Fatted Calf" in Cromford Court 1959. A great comparison with the above film photo. They even sell the same beer, Marstons!! Is Marstons brewery still in existence? The second photo shows the " Fatted Calf" in an earlier pre-war guise.( Photo Manchester Libraries).
This video capture shows Vanda Godsell ( Lucky Lusk) descending the stairs in the Lacy Arms. This could be the actual interior of the " Star and Garter" pub as mentioned above. (photo via Star And Garter Forum).
George A Cooper, a well known character actor of the 1950s, 60s. He played Doug Savage, the landlord of the fictitious " Lacy Arms" Apparently still living, and was acting during the mid-1990s. Curiously he played a police inspector, with Stanley Baker, in "Violent Playground".
The Star and Garter, Fairfield Street, in the 1960s. Very different to the " Fatted Calf". Was it used for the " Lacy Arms" Interiors? ( Photo Manchester Libraries)
On Location Piccadilly Gardens/Parker Street Bus Station
At the end of the original film Martineau takes a stroll from Lewis's Arcade on Market Street to Parker Street Bus Station where he has a final meeting with the barmaid Lucky Lusk.
Martineau is propositioned by a prostitute. This is by the south entrance to Lewis's Department Store on Market Street. Martineau had just walked through Lewis's Arcade past Wiles Toy Shop.( Courtesy of ukonscreen. com)
A view of Wiles Toy Shop and Lewis's Arcade in 1946 ( Manchester Libraries)
Martineau walking passed Wiles Toy Shop. " The Best Toy Shop in Manchester". What I would give to look in that window!
Martineau in Piccadilly. The famous Guinness clock in the background. When did this Piccadilly icon disappear?
This is pretty much the last scene in the movie! It shows Martineau walking down the East side of Market Street, Manchester. He is passing in front of Dolcis Shoes and is about to pass the infamous Cinephone Cinema. The Cinephone was famous for showing foreign films and risque films. Very much an adult cinema!! ( photo via Flickr)
Lewis's Arcade 2009. What a mess!! I am not sure whether this is the Market Street end or the Moseley Street end!!
This shows the Parker Street location in the film, and the same location today. The Bus Station, which was brand new in 1959, no longer exists.( Courtesy of ukonscreen.com)
On Location Strangeways Prison
At the end of the film we see a shot of the outside of Strangeways Prison at the time of Don Starlings execution for murder
The film location has really changed since 1959. The only real reference is the famous tower. ( Courtesy ukonscreen.com)
On Location Manchester Central Police Station. Bootle Street
This is the film location of the yard at Bootle Street Police Station, which was Manchester's Central Police Station in 1959.Still in operation in 2007. Strangely, though they used this real location, the opening scene of Martineau leaving the police station was filmed at 44 Moseley Street, which housed a bank headquarters at that time! ( Courtesy of ukonscreen .com)
On Location 44 Moseley Street. ( The fictional Manchester Police Station)
For some reason the makers of Hell Is A City chose to use a different location to depict the entrance to Manchester City Police central station. The location is actually 44 Moseley Street. Note Piccadilly Gardens in the background , with the famous " Guinness Clock".
The same location, 44 Moseley Street April 2008. A doorway no more, but a great comparison shot. Not too much has changed here in nearly 50 years!! Apparently the street address of this building is now 38 Moseley Street. That would be the doorway further up the street!! ( image via Paul Plowman)
This is the same building prior to 1970. The doorway is at the far left of the building. In 1970 an annex to the building was built, but the doorway is still there! The building has always been a bank. At one time Manchester and Salford Bank. In the 1950s Deacons Bank. Then Williams Deacons Bank. Is it now the Manchester headquarters of The Royal Bank Of Scotland?
Just as a comparison this is the doorway to the real Manchester Police Headquarters in 1959. This doorway, in Southmill Street, is no longer in use. December 2007.
On Location. Manchester Central Station/ G-Mex Exibition and Conference Centre
The old Manchester Central Station train hall was used as the location for the character played by actor Joby Blanchard to try and make his escape. After the station was closed in the 1970s the stations huge train hall stood empty and derelict for several years. In the 1980s it was extensively modernised and became Manchesters premier exibition, conference and concert venue, G-Mex. ( Courtesy of ukonscreen.com)
On Location. Lovetts Garage
0n location memory via Ken Fisher, January 2010.
I have recently received an on location memory from Ken Fisher. As a 10 year old he remembers himself and his friends efforts to become film stars!! "Hi George, just a line to say how much I enjoyed your bio on "Hell Is A City".
The garage scene was filmed in a church on Raby Street in Moss Side, to the back of the church was a park and beyond that Great Western Street. I lived in Crondall Street which was just off Great Western Street, I was 10 at the time.
When they were filming my mates and myself were jumping up and down on a bench in the park trying to get on film, I got the film last year and checked, we didn't succeed! I seem to remember the church being owned by Granada Television, and in the November that year we were given old TV sets for the bonfire, which we promptly took the tubes out to get the magnets that were inside.
The still with the bus is at the junction with Raby Street and Moss Lane East in Moss Side. They also shot a scene on Princess Road, Moss Side, using an opticians shop. The shop was on the left hand side going away from town, and just before Claremont Road. The shop is still there but I don't know what it is now trading as. The scene was of a police car pulling up and the police running into the shop. This time we were allowed to walk across the scene when told, which we did three or four times, but again no success as it wasn't used in the film!" Thanks for this memory Ken.
Regarding the above memory Ken Fisher found this photo which he states is of the opticians shop on Princess Road, Moss Side, where a scene for "Hell Is A City" was filmed but not used in the final cut of the film. Ken states that the shop still exists. (photo via Manchester Libraries)
Lovetts Garage, film scene capture 1959.
This is a great comparison of the same corner in 2009. Note what looks like the same light standard. The keep left bollard looks to be a modern version. The building behind looks like it could be a swimming pool or sports centre. ( photo via ukonscreen)
This is the church used in the film as Lovetts Garage. This photo was taken in 1962 and it looks like it has been a garage and car showroom at some time. Does anyone know the name of the garage, or the original name of the church?
By 1973 the church and adjoining buildings had gone. Probably torn down in the wholesale demolition of most of old Moss Side. A New Youth Club was built on the site. The location is Raby Street, between Heslington St. and Ainsty Road.
This is the same location in 1900. Compare with the previous photos and the film still.
The location used as the garage owned by Laurie Lovett has been the subject of some debate. The 53 bus gives a clue, Longsight, Rusholme!! I have a feeling that it may be Plymouth Grove area. This needs more research. Update: The location is on Moss Lane East, Moss Side. Check out the next photo for a pretty good comparison. Also see above for the actual garage location.
How times change! This is the same corner in 2009. Those fine old houses replaced by nondescript council property. That's progress I suppose. Moss Lane East. ( photo via ukonscreen)
Even with the bus blocking the view this is almost an exact comparison of the film still.
This is a film still taken inside the Lovett's Garage location. Stanley Baker, Charles Morgan and Charles Houston. ( photo via Claire Gonzalez)
Many correspondents, and people on other sites featuring "Hell Is A City", have mistakenly presumed that the BBC TV garage on the corner of Birch Lane and Plymouth Grove was the actual location for Lovett's Garage. I have found a few images which disprove this theory!
The above photos of the BBC garage in Longsight were taken in 1958, 1962 and 1969. The church is very different to the one in the movie, but you can see how people could be mistaken. I would think that this building no longer exists. The Building was originally the Longsight Free Christian Church. Also in the first photo I love the old sign post on the corner where the Wagon and Horses Pub used to stand. Sadly, this old pub has been demolished in recent times. Actually, the pub looked older than it was! The black beams which made it look 16th century were painted on!! It is also interesting that Dinky Toys modelled two of the vehicles shown in these photos, namely the Outside Broadcast Tower Transmitter Truck and the O B Control Room Van.( Photos Manchester Libraries)
On Location. Lucky Lusks House
In the film the barmaid at "The Lacy Arms", Lucretia "Lucky" Lusk, lives in a two storey stone built cottage. Both Inspector Martineau and Don Starling visit her at this location
These screen captures show Martineau visiting Lucky Lusk. Where is the location. Again I would be inclined to go for the Oldham area. This is very likely one of the streets on Oldham Edge where the coin tossing game was filmed. See below for more information.
This looks very much like the location of Lucky Lusks house. The houses on the other side of the road are very similar to the screen capture. Oldham Edge 2009. (via ukonscreen)
The same view from a slightly different angle, Oldham Edge 2009. ( via ukonscreen)
Martineau & Lucky Lusk. Studio interior of the above location.
Interestingly, the landlord of the Lacy Arms, Doug Savage, played by George A Cooper is arrested near the Lusk house. This is after the police break up the "coin tossing" game.
On Location. The "Coin Tossing" Game.
One of the dramatic highlights of the film is the illegal "coin tossing" game on the moors outside Manchester. Many of the villains are involved in this scene. Coin Tossing, Betting money on the toss of a coin, must have been a popular but illegal activity in the 1950s. In this scene the dye marked bank notes are used by one of the villains. Where is this location. Again probably Oldham area! Update:- This location is on Oldham Edge. See below.
Update #2:- Paul Hudson has contacted me with some further information on this location. " The terraced cottages were on Henshaw Street, straight opposite the top of Crompton Street. The coin tossing scenes are indeed on Oldham Edge. The scene where the long dry stone wall is, was called the roman wall by us kids and the mills in the background are the the cotton mills of Shaw near Oldham. The scene where the men are scrambling down a steep slope, we kids called Hill 60 and is directly behind the roman wall. Old maps show this as Edge Lane and it starts behind the White House pub." Many thanks for this Paul!
A German still/lobbycard from the coin tossing game. Charles Houston, Joby Blanchard and Charles Morgan.
This location has been identified as Rivington Street, Oldham Edge. The double gabled building on the right is the White House pub, which apparently still exists. ( information via Susan Smith. email@example.com)
Identified as the Roman Wall, Oldham Edge. Cotton mills are in Shaw, Oldham.
This is a close approximation to the preceding screen capture. Now over grown. Note the Roman Wall and the mills in the background. Oldham Edge 2009. (via ukonscreen)
This is possibly the current state of the preceding screen capture with the police cars racing along a cobbled road. Now very overgrown, but still evidence of cobbles. Oldham Edge 2009. ( via ukonscreen)
This location is identified as Wallshaw Street, Oldham, looking south towards the Greengate Mills and St. Marks Church, Glowick, Oldham. ( info via Susan Smith, Local Studies, Oldham) Update: This shot is taken at the corner of Egerton Street. The street sign on the left is Spencer Street. The sign on the left reads "OB Ales" and is an Off Licence/Grocers run by a Mr Bob Shine, at one time Mayor of Oldham ( info via Paul Hudson)
This is the lower end of Wallshaw Street in May 2008. ( photo via ukonscreen)
This location is identified as follows:- The Road on the far right is Henshaw Street Oldham. The White House pub again in the background.( info via Susan Smith, Local Studies, Oldham)
The Henshaw Street location in May 2008. The end house has been re-built or extended. White House pub in the background.
Henshaw Street corner again. Where did all the factory units go? It all looks so rural!! ( both photos via ukonscreen)
This hill was known as Hill 60 by local kids. This sounds like it had some connection to a wartime exploit!!
There are lots of clues to the location for those familiar with this area. I would hazard a guess that little remains in 2008, of these buildings, mills, houses, etc. I would love to obtain some contemporary comparison photos!! Update:- It would seem that most of the filming for the coin tossing game took place on Oldham Edge. See above for more information.
This map shows the area on Oldham Edge where the filming took place. I have highlighted the streets mentioned in the previous photos. Now I need some contemporary photos of the area in 2008.
On Location. Gus Hawkins Betting Shop.
The character Gus Hawkins, played by Donald Pleasence, is seen outside his Manchester betting shop prior to the robbery. I would think that the location is in the Corporation Street, Shudehill, Withy Grove area. Again, this area has seen much re-development since 1959. It is not likely that the building used as the location still exists!
Update: This is New Brown Street looking west towards Cannon Street
Update: This is looking south on Cannon Street. Corner of New Brown Street.
Update: This is looking north on the corner of Cannon Street and New Brown Street. This area looks to have been damaged during the Manchester Blitz! Curiously, the bookmakers clerks are heading south away from the next location where the robbery takes place in Higgits Passage/Cromford Court!!
This scene of Cannon Street looking south is contemporary with the film having been taken in 1959. Note the large hoarding and the fence posts.( Manchester Libraries)
This photo taken during or shortly after the Second World War is looking south on Cannon Street, The building just to the left of the two cars is the " Gus Hawkins" building. Compare to the previous photo. Note the Air Raid Shelter and fencing. This area seems to have been heavily damaged during the Manchester Blitz of 1940-41
This photo taken in the early 20th Century is captioned as " New Brown Street" The entry is Back Cannon Street. Again the corner with the street lamp looks suspiciously like the " Gus Hawkins" building. ( Manchester Libraries)
These two businesses, F C Halliday & Hamburgers Gowns appear in the background shots of the Gus Hawkins sequence.They were located at the corner of Cannon Street and New Brown Street on the west side of Cannon Street. These photos are contemporary with the film, having been taken in 1959. The company of Hamburger Gowns still exists in 2008, being now situated in Lever Street.(photos via Manchester Libraries)
This view shows the business of F C Halliday in the background. The still is contemporary with the first photo above, being taken in 1959.
New Brown Street looking East. It is obvious that the "Gus Hawkins Turf Accountant" signage has been painted onto the wall of the actual business, which appears to be " Green Brothers Ltd, Converters" Does anyone have knowledge of this business and whether it still exists in 2008!
This is Cannon Street in 1959 looking North. At this time the grounds of the blitzed buildings were used as car parking. Note Hamburgers Gowns on the corner of New Brown Street, and fence posts and hoardings on the right hand side of the street. Also the tower of the Royal Exchange Building in the background. All of this area would now be part of the Arndale Centre. ( Manchester Libraries)
On Location. Martineaus House
Another great comparison shot of the Martineau house location at 131 Crompton Street, Oldham. Still very recognizable in 2008. Even the pavement looks the same!!
The house where Martineau lives with his wife is shown several times in the film. A very steep hilly location. North East Manchester or Oldham would be my bet. Interestingly Martineaus wife, played by Maxine Audley, is never seen in an exterior shot. I would therefore presume all her work was done in the studio, and she never actually filmed in Manchester. One of the few actors in the film who were not " On location"!! Update:- This location has been identified as Crompton Street, Coldhurst, Oldham looking west towards Rochdale Road and Featherstall Road North, Oldham. ( info via Susan Smith, Local Studies, Oldham)
Martineau at his front door. Where was this location? Do the houses still exist? See Above photo caption.
Martineaus house, 131 Crompton Street, in 2008. Very little change here in nearly 50 years!! The house is actually the end house of this row. A great comparison. ( photo via ukonscreen)
On Location. The Hospital
In the film Martineau visits Gus Hawkins, the bookie, in hospital after he is coshed in his house by Don Starling. Was this location a real hospital? This is the scene where the familiar face of Doris Speed, Annie Walker of Coronation Street fame, appears as a starchy hospital matron!! Update:- According to ukonscreen, This location has been identified by a John Shaw as the old entrance to The Christie Hospital, Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester. Apparently the entrance has been re-developed and a current comparison would not be possible.
This is the old hospital entrance where the hospital interior was filmed. This photo dates from 1954.
An aerial view of Christie Hospital dated 1937. The entrance to the hospital is almost dead centre, top of circle. Not on Wilmslow Road. (Manchester Libraries)
This photo shows the entrance at the time of construction in 1933. ( Manchester Libraries)
On Location. The Moors
After the robbery and the accidental murder of the bookies girl assistant, the film moves to the moors. Here the girls body is dumped and the villains swap vehicles from the Buick to an Austin Taxi Cab.
Heading out of town. No real clue to this location!! Update:- This location has been identified as West Street,Oldham, looking from the town centre down towards Middleton Road. The building behind the car is the Old Packhorse pub on Rochdale Road. Oldham Civic Centre now stands on the waste ground. Note Doncaster races sign.
Heading to Doncaster Races. Where exactly? Update:- This location has been identified as the A62 and is just on the West Yorkshire side coming out of Saddleworth, near Oldham, only a hundred yards past the Great Western pub. The road to the right is called Mount Road, and is a back road to Marsden. The building in the background was a transport cafe called the Eagles Nest, now a pub called The Carriage House. The big hill behind the pub is called Pule Hill. (Information supplied by Paul Hudson)
This is a very good comparison of the above scene. ( photo via ukonscreen)
This is a pretty good comparison photo of Pule Hill, taken a little farther back than the film still. See below for Pule Hill Quarry.
On Location. Dumping the girls body.
A still found on the internet. Murder most foul!!
The bookmakers clerk Cecily Wainwright ( Lois Dane) after she is killed by Don Sparrow while driving to the moorland location
Tawny Jakes (Joby Blanshard) dumping Cecily Wainwrights lifeless body in a roadside ditch on the moors above Oldham.
On Location. Pule Hill/Warlow Quarry
From further information the location of the quarry location may be Pule Hill Quarry or Warlow Quarry. They may be one and the same location! The quarry may have been enlarged since 1959. ( Information via Paul Hudson)
The screen capture shows Clogger Roach driving up to the quarry where the gang dump the Buick.The second photo shows the same scene in 2009. No real changes here. A great comparison. (via ukonscreen)
Dumping the Buick in the quarry. Another hard to find location!! Update:- This is the same location in 2009. Very recognizable. A sheep is standing in for the 1939 Buick!! ( via ukonscreen)
On Location. The body on the Moors
In a strange way this location foreshadows the Moors Murders that took place in the Manchester area in the early 1960s. Is it possible Ian Brady And Myra Hindley had viewed the movie. A travelling salesman, played by future Alf Garnett Warren Mitchell, sees the villains dump something by the roadside. He stops and discovers the body. He phones the police from a nearby phone box.
Real Phone box or film prop??
The moorland view in this still has been identified as Wessenden Head. This is the area in which the Moors Murders took place, and where bodies were found.
The same scene in 2009. Nothing much has changed here! ( photo via ukonscreen)
Warren Mitchell and Stanley Baker. In real life would Martineau's patrol car be the nearest police car on the scene? Update:- Apparently the scenes in the quarry were filmed in Pule Quarry, which is shown in the background in this film still. ( info via Paul Hudson)
Two interesting on location shots from the Moors scenes. First photo shows Stanley Baker & Val Guest discussing a scene. The second shows Stanley Baker, Lois Dane and various technicians setting up the scene where Martineau discovers the betting clerks body on the moor. (via The Guardian) The marks on the photos are photo editor crop lines!!
On Location. The Police Cars used in the Film
I found a very interesting site called IMCDB, International Movie Car Database. There is a page on this site dedicated to the real Manchester Police Cars used in the film. I will include the screen shots, and brief details of these cars. Fascinating stuff!! Sorry about the poor quality of the screen shots.
The opening & closing credit sequences were filmed using Manchester Police Wolseley 6/90 Mk 3 UUV 133.
Bootle Street Police Station yard. Wolseley 6/90 Mark 3 Reg UVR 612 used by Stanley Baker in the film. Light grey in colour. This is a genuine Manchester police car. This was a plain car used by CID, one of three in use at that time. Ford Zephyr Mk2 Series 2 WVU 42 operated by Manchester City Police in the background. Apparently this car was stabled at St Josephs Police Station in Longsight.
Wolseley UVR 612 again. In the background 1957 Morris JB police van.
Wolseley 6/90 Mk 3 in Oldham.
Wolseley 6/90 Mk 3 on Oldham Edge.
Bootle Street yard, Update:- These police motor bikes have been identified as Velocette LE by Tom Bancroft.
On the moors, Wolseley 6/90 UVR 612
Oldham Edge, Coin tossing game. Wolseley 6/90 Mk 3s operated by Oldham Borough Police. Regs OBU 337 and PBU 820.
On Location. The Rooftop Chase ( The Refuge Assurance Building & India House, Oxford Road area)
The exciting climax to the film takes place on the rooftops of what was then the national headquarters of The Refuge Assurance Society. This very familiar building, with its distinctive tower, is now the Palace Hotel. The Building, designed by Alfred Waterhouse, was built between 1891-95, and extended in 1910-12 and again in 1932. It became a hotel in 1996. ( image via ukonscreen) Update August 2013:- It has come to my attention recently that some of the rooftop chase was filmed on the roof of India House located at 73/75 Whitworth Street, which was adjacent but North of the Refuge Assurance building.
I received an Email recently from Kevin Monahan who was present when this scene was being filmed. Kevin says:- "Regarding the final scene on the Refuge rooftop, I can tell you I was a young lad of 16 who worked at 56 Oxford Street (Tootal, Broadhurst, Lee, Ltd). I had just left work at 5.30pm and noticed a crowd of people standing at the junction of Oxford St and Whitworth St. Two men were seen struggling on the parapet above. I think the director must have chosen this time of day to guarantee a good crowd of spectators below. It must have been about June or July. I remember it so well." Thanks Kevin for your first hand memory. I wonder how many other people remember seeing this film being shot on location in and around Manchester?
India House 2013
A recent correspondent, Deborah Watson, identified some of the rooftop scenes as having been filmed on the roof of India House. The building was at one time a warehouse, but in 1989 was converted into apartments by a housing association. Debbie provided me with some contemporary photos. See below.
Two photos of India house in 2013. The first clearly shows the Refuge building, the second was taken from the area of Oxford Road.
More Rooftop Scenes!!
I recently found these screen captures of the finale of " Hell Is A City" which took place on the roof of the then Refuge Assurance building on the corner of Oxford Road and Whitworth Street. This photo featuring Stanley Baker was shot at the side of the building adjacent to the Piccadilly to Oxford Road railway line, which can be seen below.
I am not sure of the direction of this photo.
This photo would be on the roof of the Refuge extension Building. Sgt Devrey signaling to Martineau.
Another scene from the roof chase. Probably on the Refuge roof.
Don Starling waiting to pounce on Martineau.
Stanley Baker on the roof with the new Oxford Road station in the background.
The climactic scene on the roof parapet with Whitworth Street below, and the side of the Palace Theatre.
The same scene from another angle. I think this was probably a studio interior shot. British film still. (via Ebay)
This photo shows the approximate rooftop location from a lower angle. Note" The Palace" sign, where Refuge used to be.
I found the above on location images on a the Internet. They are from a Guardian newspaper article relating to the recent 2012 release of "Hell Is A City" on DVD in the UK. The above images all relate to the rooftop chase sequence.Interesting to see Stanley Baker applying his own fake blood, apparently known as "Kensington Gore" in the trade!!
Stanley Baker. 1928-1976
Stanley Baker, the star of "Hell Is A City" was born in the South Wales mining town of Ferndale, in the Rhondda Valley, on February 28th 1928. By the time "Hell Is A City" was made in 1959, Stanley Baker was a major British film star, known for playing both villains and heroic figures. He had already appeared in some international films such as "Helen of Troy" and "Alexander The Great", but after appearing in "The Guns Of Navarone" and "Zulu" he became a much better known face to world audiences. He was also a film producer, through his company Oakhurst, and produced films like "The Italian Job" and "Robbery". Sadly, Stanley Baker, died of pneumonia after undergoing a cancer operation in 1976. It had just been made known to him that he was to be knighted for his services to film acting. He did not live to receive the honour in person. He thus became, posthumously, Sir Stanley Baker. Had he lived, one can only speculate where his career may have taken him. He was not averse to appearing on TV, or in foreign language films. In 2010 he would have been 82, and likely still acting!!
Publicity Stills. Hell Is A City"
A studio publicity still including Stanley Baker, Lois Dane, producer Michael Carrerras and Geoffrey Frederick. Everyone looks very casual. When And where was this taken? (Hammer Horror website) Second image, Stanley & Lois Dane.
Stanley Baker on the roof of The Refuge Assurance Building, Oxford Road, Manchester. This scene is from the exciting finale on the rooftops above Oxford Road.
Another shot of Stanley Baker during the rooftop chase, in colour!!
On the roof again! Was this a studio set?
On the roof one more time!!
I am not sure whether this publicity still is from " Hell Is A City"!! Stanley Baker made two films prior to " Hell Is A City" where he portrayed policemen. First "Violent Playground" in 1958, and then "Blind Date/Chance Meeting" in 1959. Stanley Baker was a very busy actor at this time, switching easily from villains to lawmen.
Another publicity still from "Hell Is A City" proving that the previous one is from the same film. The location for this photo appears to be Corporation Street.
Stanley Baker showed a keen interest in what went on behind the camera! Where was this location? Update 2013:- This location would appear to be Bootle Street Police Station.
A publicity photo of Stanley Baker from the 1950s, with a copy of his autograph. Found on a film autograph auction site.
This is the cover of the Stanley Baker biography, written shortly before his death in 1976. The photo is probably a publicity shot from the BBC TV series " How Green Was My Valley". The photo shows Stanley smoking, and ironically he died pneumonia following an operation for lung cancer! If you are interested to find out more about Stanley Baker, there is a website dedicated to his career http://www.freewebs.com/stanleybaker/index.htm
Two recent books featuring Stanley Baker. "Stanley Baker. A Life In Film" Is a slim volume detailing Baker and his film performances. Some biographical detail, but a rather disappointing read! "Zulu, With Some Guts Behind It" is a highly detailed book on the making of the film "Zulu" (1964). Well researched, and covers every aspect of the films production from initial story to finished product. Great photos!!
Stanley Baker as Inspector Martineau finds the loot hidden in the engine of an old taxi. Film still found on the Internet.
A couple of publicity stills from Hell Is A City. First is Stanley Baker, in "that" overcoat, against a Manchester roofscape. Second is a studio shot of Donald Pleasence and Billie Whitelaw, as Gus and Chloe Hawkins. All these actors were present at the Levenshulme location. Billie Whitelaw also appeared in the film " Small Hotel" ( 1957) with Levenshulme actress Dorothy Bromiley!
Another posed shot of Billie Whitelaw and John Crawford. (via Ebay)
A publicity still of Stanley Baker possibly from Hell Is A City. Stanley Also played policemen in two other films prior to " Hell Is A City". " Violent Playground" (1958) and " Blind Date" ( 1959).
Two more posed studio photos of Stanley Baker from "Hell Is A City'. ( via Ebay
These posed shots from "Hell Is A City" were taken at Elstree Studios in 1959. ( via Getty Images)
Stanley returns to Manchester. Autographing model Susan Shaw's boots at a Manchester fashion show 1970. ( Getty Images)
Stanley and some friends, possibly at a Labour Party function. LtoR :- Pat Phoenix, Stan, Jenny Lee ( a Labour Party minister), Georgia Brown and Warren Mitchell. Stanley Baker and Warren Mitchell appeared in two films together, namely "Hell Is A City" and "Innocent Bystanders" ( Getty Images)
Below another feature on Stanley Baker and Hell Is A City. ( Stanley Baker Website)
ABC Film Review Feature 1960
This two page spread appeared in the ABC Film Review sometime in 1960.( Stanley Baker website)
The Actors of "Hell Is A City"
Several of the actors in " Hell Is A City" went on to have very successful Film, Stage and TV careers. In particular Donald Pleasance and Billie Whitelaw. Others vanished off the map e.g. Sarah Branch. I will try to identify some of the actors in this section.
Donald Pleasance ( Gus Hawkins) 1919-1995
Donald Pleasance was a well known character actor whose face appeared in many films of the 1950s and 60s. Often cast in sinister roles, he became better known after appearing in "The Great Escape" in 1963. He graduated to appearing in American movies playing in many different roles, including scientists and even cowboys. He moved between movies and TV on both sides of the Atlantic. Started in films in 1954.
Donald Pleasence and the malachite green dye. Film still found on Ebay
Gus Hawkins hears the "Starling" in the attic. A posed film publicity still. ( via Ebay)
Billie Whitelaw CBE ( Chloe Hawkins) B. 1932
Billie Whitelaw a fine actress who made her start in TV and Stage before graduating to films. She never really became a "Star" but appeared in many well known films and TV shows. Was created a CBE in 1991. The second photo shows Billie Whitelaw in a studio pose for "Hell Is A City" wearing that controversial "nightie". Update:- I have recently read, January 2010, Billie Whitelaw's autobiography titled "Billie Whitelaw...Who He?" . It is a very interesting read, but makes no mention of "Hell Is A City". It mainly concentrates on her stage career, particularly her connection with the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. However she does mention her friendship with the Levenshulme actress Dorothy Bromiley, and also Donald Pleasence who was a neighbour and friend and also her co-star in "Hell Is A City".
Billie Whitelaw and Stanley Baker on the interior studio set of Errwood House.
Another publicity shot of Billie Whitelaw. (via Ebay/David Newman)
Same photo session, different pose! ( via David Newman)
Billie Whitelaw, on the Errwood House studio set.
The book cover of Billie Whitelaw's autobiography published in 1995
Yet another staged publicity photo from the German release of "Hell Is A City".
John Crawford ( Don Starling) B. 1920
John Crawford was an American actor who appeared in many supporting roles from the 1940s to the 1980s. He apparently began his career as a native dancer in the 1933 original version of King Kong. The third image is a German still from " Hetzjagd/Hell Is A City" found on Ebay.
This still of John Crawford looks like a combination of two separate images!
Joseph Tomelty ( Furnisher Steele) 1911-1995
Joseph Tomelty was born in Ireland. A familiar face in films and TV from the late 1940s to the 1960s. He was also a writer. Father of actress Frances Tomelty, who was once married to the pop singer Sting!
Maxime Audley ( Julia Martineau) 1923-1992
A German still showing Stanley Baker and Maxime Audley. This scene is from the alternative ending which appears on the recent DVD, but was never shown in the UK. (photo found on Ebay)
Maxime Audley was a familiar supporting actress in many British films and TV productions. She was still working up to her death in 1992.
Vanda Godsell ( Lucky Lusk) 1922-1990
Vanda Godsell in " A Shot In The Dark" (1964)
A very "sexy' studio pose of Vanda Godsell and Stanley Baker. Vanda looks very glamorous in this still (via Claire Gonzales)
Vanda Godsell appeared in many "gritty" roles during the 1950s and 1960s. She was still acting in the 1980s.
Charles Morgan ( Laurie Lovett) D. 2000 & Joby Blanshard ( Tawny Jakes) B 1919
Charles Morgan better known as a versatile TV actor was still acting in the late 1980s
Joby Blanshard also better known on TV, still acting in the early 1980s.
George A Cooper ( Doug Savage) B 1925
George A Cooper again better known as a TV actor, appearing in series as diverse as " No Hiding Place" (50s-60s) and "Grange Hill" 1980s. He also had supporting roles in many British Films. Still acting in 1995 The second image is from " A Night To Remember" ( 1958)
Warren Mitchell (Travelling Salesman) B. 1926
Warren Mitchell ( Travelling Salesman) is a versatile British actor. A well known face on TV, Film and Stage. Best known as the bigoted East Ender Alf Garnett in the 1960s and 70s. Still acting in 2006.
Charles Houston ( Clogger Roach) d.2006
Charles Houston ( Clogger Roach) had a fairly healthy Film and TV career, as a supporting actor, until the early 1970s. He seems to have retired from acting at that time. Seen in the leather jacket in the first image. The second image is from the film " The Lost Continent" (1968).
Peter Maddern ( Bert Darwin) 1904-1976
Peter Maddern a well known face in film and TV was born in Ipoh, Malaysia. He started his screen career on BBC TV in 1937. The BBC had begun TV broadcasting around this time, but they shut the service down during the period of the Second World War 1939-1945. A personal quote of Peters was "I'm generally cast as a baddie because I have such a miserable bloody face. Thank God I never wanted to be a star!"
A good image of Peter Madderns "miserable bloody face!" The second image from a French collector card series shows Peter Maddern as Bert Darwin in the snooker hall sequence.
Russell Napier ( Superintendant ) 1910 - 1974
Russell Napier was born in Perth Australia. He was a familiar face in British films right up to his death in 1974. Often played High Ranking police officers or Establishment types.
Russell Napier in "A Night To Remember" ( 1958) Below in " Hell Is A City" as The Superintendant.
Sarah Branch ( Silver Steele) B. 1938
Sarah Branch played the mute girl Silver in Hell Is A City. This magazine cover dates from that time when she was also seen in the Charlie Drake comedy film " Sands Of The Desert". She was present at the Manchester premiere of "Hell Is A City" at the ABC Apollo, Ardwick Green in 1960. Although she appeared to be a rising star at this time, she seemed to disappear from the scene shortly after the early 1960s! Does anyone know anything about her subsequent career? Update:- I have just found out from some recent research that Sarah Branch died in 2007. She married and gave up her acting career. More to follow! The following is the obituary for Sarah Branch. Sad but true!!
Sarah (née Branch) peacefully at Princess Alice Hospice, Esher, on 10th November, after an illness courageously borne. Former model and actress, greatly loved widow of John Grant, devoted mother of Susanna, James and Jonathan (deceased), dear sister of Molly, fondest aunt to Charles and Caroline, loving mother-in-law, and proud grandmother of Tyra. Funeral Service: Monday 19 November, 3.20p.m, Putney Vale Crematorium West Chapel, Stag Lane SW15, and afterwards at Kingston Lodge Hotel, 94 Kingston Hill. Flowers welcome. Enquiries to F W Paine 020 8942 1978.
Sarah Branch as Silver the mute girl, Silver Steele.
The above still is from German release "Hetzjagd" (via Ebay)
Another posed publicity photo of Sarah Branch.
A posed shot of Sarah Branch and John Crawford. (via Ebay)
Sarah in "Sword of Sherwood Forest" ( 1960) She played Maid Marian.
Sarah Branch with Richard GreeneSarah and Niall McGuiness.
Peter Cushing and Sarah Branch
Above, Sarah Branch with Richard Greene and Peter Cushing
Sarah and Niall McGuiness
Sarah and Peter Cushing. A British BW still. The film was in colour!
Sarah Branch and Niall McGuiness. A very "Sexy" Sarah Branch!!
All the above stills were found on German or Polish movie websites. All are from the film " The Sword Of Sherwood Forest" This film was also a Hammer Film, featuring a lot of very well known British Character actors. Was Sarah possibly under contract to Hammer? She had second star billing in this film!!
Sara in "Sands Of The Desert" (1960) She played Janet Brown
Two more scenes from "Sands Of The Desert". One from the cover of ABC Film Review, and the other showing Sarah Branch & Peter Arne.
Two more photos of Sarah Branch, One from Photoplay magazine, and the other taken at a film gala with Daniel Massey and Trevor Howard.
Geoffrey Frederick ( Detective Devery) B 1933
Geoffrey Frederick in "633 Squadron" (1963)
Geoffrey Frederick was a well known face in Film And TV between 1959 and 1985. After that he does not seem to have been involved in acting. Does anyone know what happened to him?
Lois Dane ( Cecily Wainwright) B.1941
Lois Dane ( Cecily Wainwright) the bookmakers clerk who is kidnapped and killed by the robbers. The second image shows Lois Dane, who was born in Bolton, at a recent reunion of the cast of " Captain Kronos- Vampire Killer in which she appeared in 1974. Lois appeared to have a spotty career. "Hell Is A City" was her first film appearance. She did some TV work, even appearing in "Coronation Street".
This staged shot of Lois Dane & Stanley Baker found on Ebay. Possibly taken during post-production.
Lois Dane studio shot post-production.
Dickie Owen (Bragg) B. 1929
Dickie Owen played Gus Hawkins bookies clerk, who as seen in the first photo near to the "tossing game" location, and in the second photo loading signs onto the bookies vehicle, which is a Ford Zodiac estate car. It is almost impossible to find out anything about his acting career. He appeared in a few films starring Stanley Baker, notably as Corporal Schiess of the Natal Native Contingent in "Zulu" (1964). He appeared mostly on TV but appears to have given up acting by the late 1960s The first image shows him , far right, with Lois Dane, Billie Whitelaw and Donald Pleasance.
Alister Williamson (Sam) 1918-1999
Alister Williamson, born in Sydney, Australia, was a familiar supporting actor on TV and in British Films. Still acting in the late 1980s. Photo is from "The Battle Of Britain" (1969)
John Comer (plainclothes police driver) 1924-1984
John Comer another well known face from film and TV. Born in Manchester. Best known from the early series of " Last Of The Summer Wine". The Photo is also from "The Battle Of Britain" (1969).
John Harvey (Fingerprint officer) 1911-1982
Marrianne Stone B.1922
Marrianne Stone, a very familiar face in British films from comedy "Carry Ons" to drama "Lolita". She has probably appeared in more films than most well established actors! She is listed in the cast of " Hell Is A City", but I have yet to spot her!!
Philip Bond ( Headquarters PC) B.1934
Philip Bond was again a familiar face on TV and film. He is the father of actress Samantha Bond, who appeared as a younger, sexier Miss Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films.
Doris Speed MBE (Nursing Sister) 1899- 1994
Doris Speed who later found fame as Annie Walker the landlady of the "Rovers Return" in the long running British soap "Coronation Street", had a small role in " Hell Is A City" as a Nursing Sister. She was already 61 years of age when she auditioned for the part of Annie Walker, but she was well known on Radio and Stage prior to " Corrie"!!
"Man Mountain" Bill Benny
Stanley Baker seen practicing a stunt with "?????" Who is this guy? My feeling are that he a person who was involved with nightclubs, wrestling, and the underworld!! A real Manchester character!! Any help in naming him The guy appears in several scenes usually wearing a cardigan. He is seen in the Lacey Arms and also at the coin tossing site where he speaks a few lines!!( Photo via Stanley Baker website) Update:- It has been suggested that the man is Man Mountain Bill Benny, a local wrestler and part owner of night clubs along with Dougie Flood, who was reputed to have gangland connections!! I have not been able to find any photos of Bill Benny the wrestler to confirm this!! Further update:- Bill Benny did in fact own & run the Levenshulme Sporting Club, formerly the Roller Skating Rink. He died at the early age of 44.
This is a photo of "Man Mountain" Bill Benny taken during his wrestling career. It certainly looks like the person in the photo with Stanley Baker. Stephen Mitchell says that Bill Benny died in bizarre circumstances! Does anyone have more information on Bill Benny? (photo via Stephen Mitchell)
This photo shows Bill Benny with wresting promoter Conrad Davis. When & where?
A wrestling programme featuring Bill Benny. Where was this, and when?
This photo is really amazing, and adds an Elvis Presley connection to Levenshulme!! Here we see Bill Benny visiting Hollywood and meeting Elvis & Colonel Parker. Apparently they were hoping to get Elvis to appear in England. Sadly, this never happened and Elvis was never to perform in England. See the promotional leaflet below.
Various "Hell Is A City" Posters
American & British posters for " Hell Is A City". The British #2 poster appeared in the ABC Film Review in 1959.
This image, found on Ebay, is described as a trading card. It is similar in style to two of the British cinema posters, but looks like a rough draft drawing! (via Ebay)
Two variationson the American poster seen at the beginning of this webpage. (Via Ebay)
An Italian film poster for " Hell Is A City" , the Italian title seems to translate as " Killer at the Gate/Door", seems like something got lost in the translation!! Apparently the literal translation reads " The Assassin and to the door". Those Italians, Eh!!
Yet another Italian poster! This one featuring John Crawford.
Another version of the Italian poster ( via Ebay)
It is quite amazing how many variations of poster appear for "Hell Is A City", one more variation on the Italian poster (via Ebay)
More Italian Publicity posters & lobby cards.
The film must have been quite popular in Italy judging by the amount of publicity material showing up on various Internet auction sites.
All of the above lobby cards show a montage of film stills and studio poses.
The above poster is the French language version. " Un Homme Pour Le Bagne". Translated it reads " A Man For The Treadmill" Not quite as exciting as " Hell Is A City"!! The literal translation should be " L'Enfer Est Une Ville"
Another French Poster. The same title as above. Interesting graphics!!
Yet another French Poster. Interesting graphics!
A German language poster for " Hell Is A City". "Hetzjagd" roughly translates to "Rush". Not very exciting!!
A Spanish poster titled "Inferno En La Ciudad" Roughly translated as " Inferno In The City" ( via E-bay)
A fairly crude English language poster featuring John Crawford.
This is a poster from Argentina, roughly translated as " Green Is The Evidence" ( poster via David Newman)
A Dutch poster, showing scenes from the film.
This is the box cover for a recently released UK DVD of " Hell Is A City". Note the glaring cast name errors!! Stanley Baxter! Joan Crawford and Donald Plesence!! Talk about sack the type setter!! ( Image via Amazon.Com)
Hell Is A City images still showing up in contemporary publications. This is the cover of, I think, a Swedish film magazine. The scene shows Stanley Baker and Vanda Godsell enjoying a drink in The fictional Manchester Pub, The Lacey Arms
This is a photo of the front page of the American press book for " Hell Is A City". Press books were issued to exhibitors and local newspapers to help promote movies. They contained photos, the story of the film and camera ready adverts to be used in newspapers and magazines.( photo via Ebay)
British Press and Premiere Booklet Material
A recent, August 2010, correspondent Simon Greetham has sent me copies of printed matter produced for Press release and for the Premiere of "Hell Is A City". Simon is a collector or film memorabilia and items related to Hammer Film production. He obtained a lot of this material when Hammer Films were having a "clear out"!!
The last two images use the stylized pencil type drawing used in a lot of the British posters for Hell Is A City. ( all images via Simon Greetham)
Hell Is A City the Cartoon Strip
The above cartoon strip was probably made available through a press kit to local newspapers prior to the film being shown in certain localities. (via Simon Greetham).
"Hell Is A City". The TV Series That Never Was!!
Some time after the film was released various ideas were put forward for turning the characters and stories created by Maurice Procter into a TV series. I had heard rumours about this, but I was skeptical until I received confirmation from Simon Greetham. The following pages show some of the original script outlines proposed by Michael Carreras, producer of the original film. A letter, dated 1967, from Maurice Procter, concerning these ideas. And finally a letter from Lloyd Shirley at Thames Television, dated 1972, to Michael Carreras turning down the idea! This last letter, 13 years after the original film was made, shows that the idea of a TV series was in the mind of the producers for a very long time. What a shame the idea never came to fruition. It was not until 1993 that the idea of a police series set in Manchester came about with the production of the excellent series "Cracker".
The Procter Letter
The above letter, written by Maurice Procter while he was in Gibraltar, gives criticism and ideas relating to the TV script outlines. The alterations on the scripts are Procters!
Thames TV letter from Lloyd Shirley
The above letter, dated 1972, was written by Lloyd Shirley, who may have been head of Drama productions at Thames TV. As stated in the letter he referred Michael Carreras to Peter Eckersley at Granada. Did Granada, who were based in Manchester, ever consider this idea? Peter Eckersley, a one time reporter for Granada Reports, went on to produce episodes of Coronation Street!
Various Publicity Still/Lobby Cards
The above series of film stills, found on the internet, were probably used in the still frames which appeared at the front entrances of many cinemas in the 1950s & 60s. Now highly prized by collectors. Most of these stills were probably just thrown away after the film had ended its run. It was not envisaged at the time that films such as " Hell Is a City" would eventually become cult classics in the age of VHS, DVD and computers.
A larger B/W still showing Stanley Baker and George C Cooper. ( via Claire Gonzalez)
Yet another B/W still, this time showing the end of film encounter with a Manchester prostitute. "Eh, your Martineau!" ( via Claire Gonzalez)
Another series of stills found on the Internet. Billie Whitelaw looks very sexy in what looks like a posed studio shot!
Corporation Street, Higgets Passage location Interior Gus Hawkins House.
Interior of The Lacey Arms. Police Chase after the coin-tossing sequence.
Martineau and Devrey at Police Lovett & Starling at the Billiard Hall Headquarters
"Hell Is A City" On The Buses!!
I came across a website recently called "Buses on Screen" which aims to find every film/movie in which a bus appears, no matter how briefly or how far in the distance the buses are seen. This is definitely a site for bus trivia buffs. One of the films on the site is " Hell Is A City". So Happy Bus spotting!!
On Location With "Yanks". May and July 1978.
The Film Poster for "Yanks"
After watching the location filming for "Hell Is A City" in 1959, I did not get the opportunity to watch a movie being filmed until nearly 20 years later. In the spring and summer of 1978, the great British film director John Schlesinger, came to the Manchester area to shoot location footage for his film production of "Yanks". I had the good fortune to watch filming in Stalybridge & Stockport during this time, and got to appreciate the hard work that goes into filming just a few minutes of screen time! Below are some of the photos that I took "On Set". There were no digital cameras in 1978, so I used my 35mm slide film sparingly!! As can be seen from the photos the weather was not too good in the summer of 1978. I would like to find wartime photos of "real" Yanks in Levenshulme! Any help would be most appreciated.
Stalybridge, May 1978.
American GMC 2 1/2 ton trucks waiting to enter a scene. Notice the tape on the windows of the building. An "authentic" wartime detail.
A convoy waits in the wings! Various American vehicles parked in readiness. "Buy National War Bonds"!!
1) "Got any gum Chum?" 2) John Schlesinger setting up the Marching Scene.
British military vehicles. A Morris and a Bedford. Did these appear in the finished film?
1) John Schlesinger at work. 2) Colin Welland, the scriptwriter, signing autographs.
Marching off to war!! The soldiers are real US Air Force personnel dressed as WW2 G.I.s.
"Here come the Yanks". This scene was rehearsed and repeated many times.
Willys Jeeps. No war film would be complete without Jeeps!!
Stockport Market Place, July 1978.
1) St.Mary's Church and Truck. 2) A nice "period" shot. Note sandbags and taped windows.
"Look at these army lorries our kid!!" US truck near to Mealhouse Brow. Note how the film company used a derelict site to real advantage as "bomb damage".
More period detail on Mealhouse Brow. The "bomb site" was built on some time after the filming.
Two photos taken near Mealhouse Brow. 1) waiting to shot a scene. 2) John Schlesinger instructs one of the stars, Lisa Eichhorn, on a short walking scene.
More direction from Mr. Schlesinger!! Notice all the period detail and costumes.
MPs, "snowdrops" patrolling in the Market Place.
The film "Yanks" was released in the United Kingdom at the end of 1979, over a year after the local location shooting. Before it went on General Release it had a special preview at the Davenport Cinema in Stockport, on October 18th 1979. I had entered an essay type competition in the "Stockport Express" newspaper, and I was lucky enough to win two tickets for this special preview. I went with my then wife, Mavis. See the above image. Both the director John Schlesinger and scriptwriter Colin Welland attended this preview, along with some of the extras from the film who were bussed in from as far away as Keighley, Yorkshire, which was also used a a location.
Although "Yanks" was a very entertaining film, highlighting the impact made on the people of Britain, especially the females, by the "over paid, over sexed and over here" invasion of the American forces during the period leading up to D-Day. Unfortunately, it did not become a big hit for John Schlesinger, who had scored very big in 1969 with "Midnight Cowboy". Prior to that he had been a leading light of the New Wave of British directors with such films as " A Kind Of Loving', "Billy Liar", "Darling" and "Far From The Madding Crowd". "Yanks" can still be seen on TV on a regular basis, and I think holds a place in the hearts of many people who remember the day the real "Yanks" came to town!