Huuuurrrr Hurrrr. sorry for my mild brain spasms, for I have been getting back on that scribing tip today. After what seemed like an eternity this week, where i pretty undertook a full breakdown of my faculties, I’ve finally felt the desire and need to put my thoughts to paper and other porous surfaces.
But now that’s done for the day, it’s time to undertake something that has been lacking over the last week or two. Yes, it’s sunday and that means that it’s time for another slice of celluloid madness. It’s… THE SUUUUUUUUUUUNDAY CULLLLLLLT FILMMMMMMMMMM CORNEEEEEEEEEEEER (belch…).
And, for no other reason than i can, i´ve decided for the next few weeks to curate a slew of movies from the old country, the true birthplace of civilisation, Britain (yes you heard me). titled BRIT GRIT, the next few weeks will se some lovely moves from the harder side of British life, to show that it’s not all afternoons of cricket, high tea, the monarchy and incest.
To start it all off, this week a give you a true underrated classic of gritty ’50s British cinema that’s as black and hard as the cargo it carries. Ladies and gentlemen, i give to you HELL DRIVERS.
Directed in 1957 by Cy Endfield, it lifts the lift on the hard knock macho life of Ballast truck drivers. It stars Stanley Baxter as Joe “Tom” Yately. Fresh out of prison and looking to make a clean break, he takes up a job at a haulage firm, transporting gravel. It’s a tough life where speed is of the essence and one false move could cost you your truck, or even your life. When he decides to go up against the Big dog (a man nicknamed Red) for the record number of hauls in a day, the other workers decide to freeze him out. Just when he’s about to leave, his only friend in the company has a major accident, whereupon the company secretary confides in him about the corruption endemic in the company. Tom then decides to expose the company’s corrupt practices.
“Hell Drivers” is probably one of the best, grittiest examples of the genre that is the ’50s British B movie. In those days, you’d be lucky if you got a single “Damn” or “Bloody” out of the script, but the actors of the screen were men, reaaal men, who did not give a fig for things like feelings, personal grooming, or washing their hands after going to the toilet. The world they inhabit is relentlessly grim and grey, a land of cold baths, boiled meat and cabbage and incessant abuse. Laughing and joking are but alien concepts to these people.
If all this sounds an awful prospect to watch, then don´t be disheartened, for Hell Drivers is positively dripping with talent. As well as Stanley Baker, you’ve got Herbert Lom, Patrick McGoohan, William Hartnell, Gordon Jackson, Sid James, David McCallum and Sean Connery. Meanwhile the director Cy Endfield went on to make the classic film Zulu. It’s pure black gold on celluloid.
So if you want to see some really heartless classic Brit grit, then get that mug of milky weak tea, some tongue sandwiches, and settle back for some serious trucking action.